Failed attempt on the South Ridge Route

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Trip Report
Colorado, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Sep 26, 2004
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Created On: Sep 27, 2004
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It was an unsuccesful bid this weekend, but any day spent in the mountains is a day well spent. The day began with us just missing the 6:30 bus, then the shuttle bus driver wouldn't us off at glacier gorge for whatever reason, so we had to walk the extra half mile, no big deal on the way out but on the way back not too much fun. Then my partner realized he forgot his food and I forgot my sunglasses and the beta and a watch, never a good sign, but I had studied the route and maps thoroughly before, so I wasn't too worried. We started hiking around 7:15 We made what seemed like good time to sky pond. This was my first time back in the area, but honestly I wasn't looking around at the surroundings too much, I spent more time looking up at Taylor. From this pic here of Taylor the route follows the large snowfield up and to the left almost to the very end then cuts back right and follows the snow ledges up to the rounded south ridge at the small notch. There was far less snow up there than in this pic and it looked pretty interested, lots of rock steps. But it looked doable.

After traversing a talus slope heading to the base of the snow field, we encounter a large boulder field covered with deep snow. It was very difficult navigating through this as you would go from a rock to waist deep snow, my partner really struggled with this and fell quite a bit. We covered about 300 feet and 1000 yards in what seemed to be at least an hour. Nevertheless we perserved and picked up a route through the snowfield, the snow field was covered with consistent snow that would bear your weight and you'd only sink up to about your calf. This was a welcome change. We aimed for this chute, that would give us access to the ledge that would start our first rock pitch (which you can't see in the picture because it's totally snowcovered). The chute was narrow, but looked decent around 45 degrees with just one small step. Well the bottom of the chute was totally bottomless and was not yielding upward progress. I was able to dry tool out onto the side wall of the chute and pull my self up and over the powder snow and onto the ice step. The ice here was good and I was able to get a pick in and climb it without too much trouble. Howerver, about this rock step the pick of my axe was smacking into rock, the remainder of the chute was a featureless rock slab covered in about 12 inches of snow.

Above this section didn't look any better so it became apparent that we weren't going to get up to the ledge this way, but we had spotted an alternative route. So we decided to head back down this gully and try the other way. When we got back to the bottom and traversed around, my partner looked at me and said, "I'm done". Or something to that affect, that lower boulderfield had sapped all his strength. So we stopped for a while and weighed our options, we estimated it was about 1:30 now. If we started climbing the face, it would be probably 4 hours to the summit, then another 5 hours to descend Andrews Glacier, and that's if everything went smoothly. Not wanting to intentionally submit ourselves to an epic, we decided that this route would wait another day. We found a nice little 200 foot snow chute that lead to a ridge up and to the left, and climbed that. I have to admit I was relieved to not have to tackle that climb, it just didnt' look to be in good condition.

We had greatly underestimated the time it would take to do this route, this was no 12 hour route, maybe in the summer time, but not under these circumstances. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable day and any day spent in the mountains where you walk out in one piece is a success in my book.


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Failed attempt on the South Ridge Route

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