Kautz Carryover (in a day)

Kautz Carryover (in a day)

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 23, 2017
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer

Light & Fast up the Kautz!

Notoriously optimistic about conditions, gear, and our overall fitness level, I’ve suggested a few good, and a few less-than-awesome, ideas to Andy when we’ve been prepping for an upcoming objective. After our windy, crap-skiing-filled, attempt on the Kautz last weekend, we decided to leave the skis at home and do the entire mountain in mountaineering boots. When we laid out our gear on Saturday morning, we realized that our awesome Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs would be pretttttty empty without all the extra gear inside of them/strapped to the outside. Half-jokingly, I mentioned that we could just climb the Kautz using our Dynafit Enduro 12 Running Vests.

Andy looked up at me with a half-amused, half-excited expression on his face… and we put our backpacks away. We could make do with 12 liters of pack space if we only brought 4 screws, brought our 30m rope, and started hiking out of Paradise wearing racked-up harnesses. We would be abandoning layers and reducing the amount of water we could carry but our hydration strategy going into these trips has paid dividends in keeping us comfortable. So… we went for it and, water included, our packs weighed ~14lbs, a far-cry from the previous weekend’s 30lbs+ we had (skis and ski boots are HEAVY!). 

Hiking out of Paradise with next-to-nothing on our backs, we quickly made our way up to Glacier Vista, across the lower Nisqually, and up the Wilson Gully. We were moving so much faster than we’d anticipated and, oh my god, mountaineering boots are SO comfortable! Without strong winds to fight against, we were at the base of the ice chute at 7am. The downclimb was straightforward and we pretty much ignored the fixed lines. This may be problematic later in the year when the snow beneath the rock has melted out enough to create a longer, maybe more technical?, pitch to scramble down.

We initially planned to solo the Kautz but I voted for sections of simul-climbing, moving together once we had gear in between us. It made for a more enjoyable climb for me with the risk of a catastrophic fall being mitigated for… and it was simply good practice placing screws and being fast through lead swaps. More accomplished, skilled ice climbers could probably solo the ice comfortably.It appeared that a good number of the parties up the Kautz avoided the ice entirely, skirting it to climber’s left and slogging up the suncupped snow rather than pursuing sweet kicks and sticks… as of last weekend, there is still a section of snow between the lower and upper ice section that requires a bit of firm snow slogging. 

We had no issues with soft bridges between the top of the Kautz and the summit. The crossings were clear and even flagged in some places. When we reached the summit, we had it to ourselves- the perk to being so late to arrive! The biggest issues came on the descent. We were hoping for ~5 hours from the summit back to the car but it seems like crevasses decided to play a cruel joke on climbers, forcing an incredibly circuitous route way out onto the Emmons and back with extra sections of gain and loss that were a struggle on tired legs. The final climb back UP to the cleaver gained an additional 400’. By the time we reached Muir, we were ready to be done. We ran and boot-skied back to asphalt before following the throng of day-hikers making their way back to Paradise.

More info on this trip, including GPX file & a video can be found here:


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