A super fun Alpine style day climb to the summit of Arrowsmith's West Buttress. Not often climbed as the "Main Snow Gully" route has the same approach and seems to draw more climbers. The gear placements and belays can be tricky and I encountered at least 40ft run-outs in places. The angle is vertical only for short sections (~3to 5m) and usually eases back off to about 45 deg. I didn't go to the climb with much knowledge of it and figured it was going to be all ice; I'm really glad that I brought small pins, my small rock pieces, and 2 stakes!
As per every approach to this side of Arrowsmith. Continue the same as the Main Snow Gully. Once you break out of the forest begin trending right. Upon cresting the first cirque the route will be to the right and obvious 150m long cleft in the West Buttress with a nice shining patch of blue ice at the bottom. Be warned,in my opinion the last bit of the approach is the crux if the route. The slope angle is 45 deg spot on and it is a wind-loaded North slope THAT DOES SLIDE!. Cold day early starts a must.
P1: Climb up obvious 25m of WI2 blue ice to the start of the gully proper. Continue through 2 steeper (not vertical) ice sections to a nice widening of the gully at about 55m. Belay here on 2 KBs (I put them there in early 2007 maybe still there?).
P2: Continue in the gully. As is narrows it steepens to a vertical ice step. This is the most fun climbing of the route and involves some fairly easy stemming on rock and creative tool placements. The position is stellar as you top out the vertical you'll also be finally climbing above the West Ridge and thus have some sun to warm you up!. Continue to full 60m on run-out rotten snow and ice with slope angle around 55 deg. At this point the gully essentially terminates and you are climbing in a 15m wide cleft. Belay either on left (poor rock) centre (poor ice) or Right (poor rock). I pretty much put in everything I had! Left a screw and a pin for the rap.
P3: The easy pitch! 30m to the patch of trees, and the last belay. Walk on up to the top. Didn't make this full pitch due to big storm.
Descent: I couldn't figure out how to link the top of the Butress with the Main Snow Gully Route so...Rap the route and back out the way you came.
6 x Screws should be enough. No longer that 16 cm;
6 small KBs;
3 biggest Metolius Zeros (or equivalent camalots)
small selction of wires
2 x 50cm stakes
60m Double ropes (get you down in 3 raps)
2 x tools (both hammers)
M10 crampons set up mono-point
Standard (pole, beacon, shovel ,and saw)
It gets cold in that gully and the wind is updraft throughout. Bring appropriate belay gear.
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