Ice Route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 46.90180°N / 121.804°W
Additional Information Route Type: Ice Climb
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI1 to WI2
Sign the Climber's Log


Make the approach to Spray Park as per the "Getting There" section on the main page. Once you get to where Spray Park opens up at around 5,800 ft, you will see Observation Rock on the right (see here). In front of it and slightly to the right you will see a face or sheet of ice extending up to the right (west) shoulder of the peak. That's your route. So the idea is to bear toward this ice sheet's base. The quickest approach is to bear directly toward the sheet by going SSE across Spray Park. However, this can be damaging to the vegetation. If everyone went that way willy-nilly, pretty soon the park would be abraided with unsightly trails. If you're a small party of three or less, then perhaps you can find a way through the park that's not as destructive. Else, you might try hiking the Wonderland Trail a little farther east to where it crosses the 6,200-ft contour. At this location, the vegetation is sparser along the west fringe of a small ridge that trends north from Ob Rock. Note: If you take the trail that goes all the way up to the section of the Flett Glacier between Ob Rock and Echo Rock, this would not bear directly to the ice sheet (because the trail is too far east of the sheet and would require uneven traversing to get to). However, since you'll be coming down the Flett Glacier here anyway on the return from the summit, you could stash your non-essential climbing gear here and pick it up on the way down.. For most of the approach through or on the fringe of Spray Park you'll see the ice sheet in the distance, so farfield route finding is not an issue. Only nearfield route finding through the tufts of heather, etc. is important. Eventually, vegetation will give way to barren rock and ice slopes at around 6,200 ft. There is a lake labeled on maps at 5,583 ft (see this picture). It is probably best to pass this lake on its east to avoid the small moraine on its west. This lake is really a tarn leftover from the receding Flett Glacier. Continue climbing on rock or on the low lobe of the Flett (probably easier to climb on the glacier) to the base of the ice sheet. Dont' worry about crevasses; there are none. Just before the base of the sheet, a strip of boulder field is crossed. This boulder field separates the ice sheet from the glacier-proper. The elevation here is about 7,100 ft.

Route Description

According to Phil Fortier, the ice sheet is about 400 feet high. It's pretty featureless. There is a rock outcrop on the left half of the sheet about halfway up. It is probably best to climb to the right of this outcrop. You really don't want to get too close to the sides of the sheet because of rockfall danger. When we were there, rocks of varying sizes intermittently bounded down the sides of the sheet. As long as you're in the middle, you'll be safe.

Because it is of lower angle, the first pitch can be simulclimbed to a natural break about 20 percent of the way up. This natural break is a small horizontal crack extending from the base of the rock outcrop. It may be possible to stand in this crack for a comfortable belay. From the crack, there are then about three more featureless pitches to the upper lip of the sheet. Each belay erected here will be of the hanging nature, meaning that it is imperative you chop out nice boot ledges first, else your calves will really start burning. I didn't figure this out until my second belay. Also, for obvious reasons, it is a good idea to climb up at a slight angle to the left or right so you're not climbing directly above your belayer. The sheet progressively steepens until it is at about 50 degrees at the top. Depending on rope length, the last pitch could be very short or very long. If very long, you might find yourself so close yet so far from the top. It would suck to have to set up a hanging belay mere feet from the lip. You could try simulclimbing that last bit if this were to happen, but only do this if you've placed at least two screws.

Once above the lip on more or less flat ground (okay, it's maybe sloped at 10 degrees), pound in a picket as the snow is unlikely to take an ice screw. Belay your second(s) up using the picket as anchor. Note: I'm not sure rope teams of greater than two are a good idea for this climb. I'll leave that up to you when you get there.. From the top of the lip to the summit is the biggest drag of the whole climb. It's a drag because the last few hundred feet up the west ridge is on loose pumice. Two steps forward, one step back.

The Climbing

Here are some more pictures of the climb...

Essential Gear

50m or 60m rope (double it at your discretion)
Two ice tools or one ice tool and one heavy-duty ice axe.
Heavy-duty crampons (ice climbing crampons not mandatory but they do help)
Four to six ice screws
One picket for two people
Helmet (dinner plating ice hurts)
Eye protection (again, dinner plating ice hurts)
Warm clothing

A normal ice axe is not necessarily needed. Any icy terrain requiring use of an ice axe could probably use one of your ice tools. Save yourself the weight. You'll probably have your crampons on anyway when on firn and ice. This will improve your stability with or without a regular axe.

When to Climb

This route is not "in" as an ice climb until maybe mid-September until perhaps November or whenever the first snows inundate the area. Too early in the season and the face is merely a steep snow slog.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-1 of 1

mntnrmichael - May 31, 2005 10:16 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Early in the season when little rock is exposed the head wall can be climbed simply with an ice axe and crampons.

Viewing: 1-1 of 1



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