Fun & Alone on the Leuthold

Fun & Alone on the Leuthold

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 6, 2017
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring

What a BLAST!

i have no idea how i'm supposed to add images so click on the link below to see the full TR on our site... WHY IS THE TR FORMAT DIFFERENT?!

We've been trying for months to get on this route and the weather bit us in the ass at the last minute on both occasions. Thankfully, with (mostly awesome) weather in the forecast and nice, cold temps up high, we lucked out on this weekend. We drove up to Timberline on Saturday morning and were skinning by 5am, surprised and pleased at how few people were in the parking lot. The Palmer snowfield was a sheet of crusty ice and the wind ripped down on us all the way to Illumination Saddle. Ski crampons were a must and travel was slow- even as we traversed onto the ZigZag glacier.

We made our way into a nice, relatively wind-protected pocket next to Illumination Rock where we put on harnesses, roped up, and prepped to descend onto the Reid glacier. Previous TRs had indicated that the bergschrund was coming in and a few folks had fallen into the sucker on their way up to the Reid Headwall. We decided 'better safe than sorry' and prepped for soft snow bridges.

After a brief attempt at downhill skinning onto the glacier, we transitioned to crampons and packed our skis over to the base of the couloir, eyeing the Reid Headwall on our way over and finding frozen, solid snowbridges that made for quick travel. A couple hundred feet up Leuthold, we ditched the rope, laughed about taking all of our gear for a nice hike (again), and solo'ed our way through the choke and to its top. Aside from a 100' section of ~45° AI, the entire route was firm, sticky névé that made travel quick and easy. There was a series of melted runnels we had to climb in and out of (which were full of soft, fluffy snow!) and those were the crux of the route–at least for me since they were simply awkward. By the time we climbed out of the hourglass and were making our way toward the summit, we were in the sunshine, enjoying the views, and joking around about how crappy the skiing was going to be.

Traversing the summit ridge above the old chute was a little bit soft but still made for easy travel (it was honestly the most engaging part of the entire route). With the exception of a group of climbers cresting the top of the left variation of the Pearly Gates, we had the summit to ourselves. We down-climbed the right variation in an effort to avoid the congestion and found easy, low angle down-climbing, surprisingly given that it didn't look like anyone had been up that way earlier in the day! The descent was uneventful and marred by horrible skiing. The bergschrund at the base of the gates was beginning to open (it was maybe 1/2" wide in places) and was easy to avoid. After recent warm weather, however, that sucker is likely to present some issues for weekend south side traffic jams.


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