My dad and I left the car at Big lake at about 10:00am. We took the supposed Patjens lake trail, it turned out to be kind of a bitch because the trail was very sandy and it was really hot. We kind of overestmated the diffculty of the trail and brought overnight gear bivy, stove ect. When you take that stuff with all the rock gear it can be a little heavy but makes the experence twice as great. My dad and i both climb 5.10 so the only thing that would be new to me is the exposure, it was alsome as you round that first step into the gully. The only thing that kind of ruined it was the rock. Over to the left of the main route we found better rock but harder climbing and more exposure. I would say 5.6 or less with lots of fourth and third class climbing, nothing to vertical. The rappels on the descent are wild, great views of north sister and middle.
After taking a beginner group up just a few days before, I looked forward to just following as I was doing a sanctioned Chemeketan climb with experienced climbers for the most part.
Essentially, we camped in the same spot, but had a much larger group totalling 12 people. Due to the large number, we spilt into two groups that took off an hour apart from one another. The group that I was in was going to bring up the rear and leave at 0700.
We headed off from the trailhead making incredible time as we reached the cairn marking the climber's trail nearly 15 minutes faster than what I had done the few days prior. As we moved up the climber's trail toward the North Ridge we encountered by uncle who had been dropped by the pace that the first group set. When we reached the ridge, we took a short break and were met by another Chemeketan climber that had gone the wrong way on the PCT while trying to catch us from his different campground. We continued up the ridge making still great time and we eventually met the first group at the base of the summit pinnacle.
The designated leader led the first pitch and belayed a second up. Between the two they belayed the rest of our large group up. Being all somewhat experienced climbers we scrambled the rest of the way to the top in low visibility. I stopped on the way up at my previous rappell stations to retrieve my webbing and rap rings that I had left the few days before.
After we had all summited and taken the necessary photos we made our way down. It began to rain pretty good and the once pretty good rock began to get slippery. It was a bit weird down climbing wet rock that I had rappelled off just a few days before. Needless to say, I sketched out a bit but overcame it. The joys of climbing! We all reached the base of the pinnacle safely after rappelling down the last pitch. All the while, it was really raining.
For the next couple of hours we hiked down the ridge and out to the PCT getting wetter and wetter. By the time we reached the trailhead, everyone was soaked inside due to sweat, outside due to the rain and mud.
We all met over at the shelter, enjoyed a beer and then drove home
Due to the economy being as slow as it was during the summer, I was afforded a great amount of time off this past summer. Looking for inexpensive things to do on our time off, a group of us that were white water rafting discussed doing some hiking. I suggested that we climb Mt. Washington. In my opinion it was not much more difficult than a dayhike and I advertised it as such.
I believed that the low 5th class climbing wouldn't pose any problems to anyone and I could make diaper harnesses for the ones that did not have them. In total, there would be eight of us going up, five of which had never climbed before. Two others with limited experience on rock. I definitely would have my hands full.
We all met down in the valley and drove up to the trailhead in four vehicles. Luckily it was midweek and we were able to find a campsite that would accomodate our group. We built a nice fire and I watched the younger guys drink more than I would ever consider before a climb nowadays.
The next morning we headed out from the trailhead at 0600 and moved pretty quick up the PCT. I was amazed at what good time we were making and believed that it was going to be a great day. We continued up the climbers trail eventually gaining the North ridge where most of us cached some extra food and water.
After making our way up the ridge, the trail began to get steeper and our progress began to slow quite a bit. When we reached the first gendarme that you can either skirt around the base of or go over the top of we lost our first person. Although the trail had maybe became 3rd class, the exposure was affecting him and he decided to stay where he was. The rest of the group continued on until we reached the base of the loose gully below the summit pinnacle.
This is where the trip began to get fun. A couple people in the group would not move up the gully due to fear and I was insistent that they should at least come up some more to the real climbing. Probably not the smartest thing to do. However after belaying 4 of the remaining seven up the gully we were at the base of the pinnacle.
Now was the time for the real climbing and the joy of getting some exposure. When I had climbed it the year before, it was low visibility, and exposure was not a factor. I got a belay and led the first pitch up-or at least what I thought was the route. After belaying two more people up, we realized that we were probably off route and found the true route. I brought up the remaining people that would come which left another at the base of the pinnacle-now we were six!
This is the point in the climb where most people typically scramble their way to the top-however four of our group of six were sketched out by the exposure and wanted to be roped the entire way. Due to the route being such a low angle< iwas forced to free climb up and down several times for four pitches to be able to get the rope back down to where they were. This took an incredible amount of time! Each pitch I would leave them in a secure spot but they thought that it was crazy. At one point, one of my buddies said I was crazy for bringing beginners up there-he was probably right.
After what seemed like forever, the last of the remaining six summited at 1600. Although they had whined and complained, I could see the joy and accomplishment in their faces. I took some personal enjoyment knowing that I had gotten them to somewhere they would have never have gone in their lives and probably would never go again.
After lots of pictures and some high fives it was time to go down. Once again, the pitches that you typically scramble up and down they wanted the security of the rope. I set up rappel stations at each spot-having to leave a lot of webbing on the mountain. I went over the technique of rappelling and I had Zancudo do a fireman belay at the base of each pitch. Once again, due to the inexperience, this took loads of time. By the time we had reached the base of the summit pinnacle the sun was setting and what had been a very warm day was getting cold.
We hurried down the ridge as fast as they could move, but the exposure on the trail made for some slow going until we reached the lower ridge. By the time we had reached our cache of food and water, it was dark. Of course, there was very little light between us. Some of them had flashlights but they quickly went dim. All I had was a Tikka which works fine on snow but in thick forest it doesn't work well. We spaced the lights out between us and made our way down the dark climbers trail. Eventually we met up with the PCT and hiked the rest of the way out-mostly in the pitch black.
By the time we reached the trailhead it was 2330. A
17-1/2 hour day-nearly 10 hours longer than what it takes a pair to do it in. Nonetheless, everyone made it down safe with great stories and pictures to tell their other friends. My lesson learned-never take that many beginners at once ever again.
This was to be the first mountain that Mike and I decided to do on our own. We had both done a couple of others with more experienced people but we thought we would give it a try. We had both been rock climbing for a while and the 5.1 rating seemed as though it would not pose too much of an obstacle.
We decided that we would take it easy and spend some additional days on the mountain eventhough we could have done it from the trailhead. We drove up from Salem in the late afternoon and put up our tent at the trailhead campsites for the night. We enjoyed some excellent food as we were car camping. The next morning we packed up our gear (which was way too much) and headed off down the trail. We had no difficulty finding the cairn that marked the climbers trail and we were soon almost to the ridge. The weather was already getting hot and we decided that this would be a great campsite that afforded some great views. Our only worry was water. We found a 5'x10' patch of dirty snow that would suffice.
We set up the tent and camp and settled in for a day of relaxation in the sun with our books. We had dinner and went to bed early.
The next morning we woke up wet. Through the night a system had come in and the fog was thick! We hadn't put on the fly due to it being as nice as it was, unfortunately leading to wet bags. We got up and ate breakfast only to have near zero visibility. We discussed our situation and decided to go ahead and move up and reassess it as we went. As we moved up it only got worse. We were forced to have to use radios to communicate where we were as we searched out the trail to the summit pinnacle. If we got more than twenty feet apart we couldn't see or hear each other.
After thinking we had summited twice on Gendarmes on the way to the summit pinnace we finally reached the notch. Having never been up there before and trying to remember what the guidebook said we got off route a couple of times and made the route much more difficult than what it was rated. We never did the 5.1 pitch at the beginning but instead a hairy traverse around a very exposed bulge. Near the top we did not move far enough east to see the easy chimney and we ended up leading a variation to the summit that I would rate at 5.6.
After enjoying our accomplishment we headed down through increasingly nasty weather. As we were trying to rappel the final pitch we weren't able to throw our rope down due to the wind. Finally we made it back to our camp, took a short break, broke camp, and hiked out to the trailhead and the biggest mosquitos I have ever seen.