Crampon/ice axe climbing

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J3footballer

 
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Crampon/ice axe climbing

by J3footballer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:09 am

Hi, I'm looking for suggestions on climbs that require crampons/ice axe but not rope. So no glaciers. Preferably in Europe but I'll take suggestions for anywhere. The higher and more challenging the better.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by clmbr » Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:23 am

California, USA

Mt Shasta 14,179 feet (4321.8 m) several (non-glaciated) routes Grade I to Grade III most of the year
Mt Whitney 14,505 feet (4421.0 m) Mountaineer's Route and Main Route in winter/spring

Any of those routes can be done in one day or overnight, assuming you know what you are doing.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by rgg » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:00 am

The higher the better? My vote goes to the Andes.

There are lots of peaks over 6000 m that can be climbed without the need to cross a glacier. Challenging? Well, not from a climbing perspective. The main challenging thing about them is that they are high. And of course there is the weather factor: you can make it more challenging by climbing while there is a gale force wind pummeling the mountain.

An easy 6000-er, with often with good weather during the dry season, is Chachani (6057m). The easiest routes are a walk up (F), but usually require crampons. Higher still is Parinacota (6342m). Also a walk up (F), but a decidedly longer one, and nicer too. If you don't go too late in the season, you'll need crampons to get up there. I climbed the normal route in September 2009 and didn't (but I did on the descent, where we took a shorter, steeper route down the Bolivian side - still not very steep, mind you, just steeper). The highest, Aconcagua (6962m), may require crampons, depending on the route and its condition, and the weather is always something to be reckoned with. Haven't climbed it myself though, so I'm not speaking from personal experience.

Challenging Andean peaks over 6000 m that don't require crossing a glacier? Haven't climbed any. There are plenty of possibilities, but you have to look beyond the normal routes for that. To get an idea of what I mean, have a look at the west face of Sajama (6542m).

Image
Sajama West Face

There are two normal routes for Sajama, summiting from the left and the right, respectively. It depends on the conditions which one is the easiest, but basically they are both fairly easy (PD). I tried the NW ridge (on the left) but didn't summit because of high winds. If you climb the rocks as high as possible, there isn't all that much glacier to cross anymore to get to the summit (though this image, being taken from below, is somewhat deceiving). I wouldn't hesitate to cross that unroped: crevasse risk isn't the problem, it's the penitentes.

The reason I mention Sajama is this west face. Going up somewhere in the middle looks challenging to me. The more challenging the better, that's what you asked for, so here it is. The steepest part doesn't have a glacier. Despite that, personally I wouldn't want to climb it without a rope. Hec, I don't want to climb it at all, rope or not. Way out of my comfort zone! But if you say the more challenging the better, I say this fits the bill. I don't know if it's been climbed before, so perhaps you can make a first ascent.

Want something challenging, but higher than Sajama? Well, how about the north face of Huascaran Norte (6655m)?

Image
Huascaran Norte north face

Hard to believe, but this face has been climbed - solo! Let me know when you've climbed it, and I'll let you adopt the page for Huascaran Norte.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by J3footballer » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:21 am

Thanks for the info. Those last two look like they require rope though. Any suggestions from Europe?

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by rgg » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:03 am

J3footballer wrote:Thanks for the info. Those last two look like they require rope though. Any suggestions from Europe?


Well, you asked for high and challenging. I figured that the last two would over the top, but I really like the Andes and so I couldn't resist the temptation to post about it. I agree, for those that are actually going to climb something like this, a rope wouldn't be a bad idea - but since you wrote "looking for suggestions on climbs that require crampons/ice axe but not rope. So no glaciers", I took the liberty of interpreting this such that you would be willing to climb a route without a rope as long as it has no glaciers (and then I smuggled a bit with the glaciers on the summits - but I was serious about not roping up on the summit of Sajama, and while the glaciers on Huascaran Norte have crevasses, even near the summit, I soloed it from the other side, so it's doable - whether you find something like that an acceptable risk is a personal call).


To get back on earth: In the Alps, a couple of 4000-ers for which you'll need crampons but don't need to cross a glacier are Lagginhorn (4010m), along the west ridge (normal route, PD), and Weismiess (4023m) by the southeast ridge (PD). I've climbed Lagginhorn with a friend, and since we were not sure about the conditions we brought a rope, but we never took it out of our pack. I won't say it's impossible without crampons; perhaps it can be done if the snow is soft enough, but normally you'll need them. Oh, and be careful, people have fallen off this route. I didn't climb Weissmies myself, but a few years earlier that same friend did. I understand that it depends on the conditions whether you actually need crampons. I wouldn't go there without them.

These are examples that I'm comfortable soloing myself. If you want more challenging than this, well, the Matterhorn (4478m) comes to mind, and I'm not joking. For several reasons I don't want to solo that myself, but some people do. First of all, it's a bit harder than what I want to climb alone. An additional important consideration is that it is a crowded mountain and I don't like soloing something steep when there are people climbing above me. Too dangerous and out of my control. I rather cross a (somewhat) crevassed glacier unroped.

More or less comparable in difficulty, but a very different type of climb, is the Biancograt on Piz Bernina (4049m) (I climbed that mountain from the other side - which is a bit easier but crossing glaciers is unavoidable - I was with four others, roped up). The Biancograt is long and exposed but not nearly as steep as the Matterhorn. Lots of cramponing. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind climbing that route myself one day - but not solo.

Image
Lagginhorn viewed from the face of Jägihorn - west ridge is left of center

Image
Weissmies SE ridge

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by J3footballer » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:37 am

Sweet, I appreciate your help. Yeah you know I try to walk that tight rope of a challenging climb within my capabilities, without over stepping my bounds but it's a tricky thing to do. It's more important that the climbs are doable just crampon/ice axe/no rope than it being high and challenging for safety sake. I'm definitely going to look into those first two you mentioned from the Alps though.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by rgg » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:52 am

J3footballer wrote:... I try to walk that tight rope of a challenging climb within my capabilities, without over stepping my bounds but it's a tricky thing to do.


Tell me about it. I've done that a lot myself, and no doubt I will keep doing it. As I gained more experience, I got more comfortable with it. Over the years the line has shifted, though I did step over my bounds sometimes. I've soloed routes up to the occasional AD and UIAA grade III. Relatively speaking I'm better at steep snow and ice than on rock, so, for me, an AD route with steep snow and ice is easier than an AD route that's mostly an alpine rock climb; for the latter, I want a rope and a partner. Fortunately, I just love climbing, even if it's not hard, so when I solo, I usually look for easier routes (F or PD) and easy rock climbing (UIAA grade I-II). But I make exceptions occasionally.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by J3footballer » Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:05 pm

Right on. These days it's mostly solo for me so in that sense I have to be extra careful. But I appreciate the info. I'm always looking for suggestions.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by clmbr » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:44 am

rgg wrote:. . .
Image
Weissmies SE ridge

So nice photo :D

rgg wrote:
J3footballer wrote:... I try to walk that tight rope of a challenging climb within my capabilities, without over stepping my bounds but it's a tricky thing to do.

Tell me about it. I've done that a lot myself, and no doubt I will keep doing it. As I gained more experience, I got more comfortable with it. Over the years the line has shifted, though I did step over my bounds sometimes. I've soloed routes up to the occasional AD and UIAA grade III. Relatively speaking I'm better at steep snow and ice than on rock, so, for me, an AD route with steep snow and ice is easier than an AD route that's mostly an alpine rock climb; for the latter, I want a rope and a partner. Fortunately, I just love climbing, even if it's not hard, so when I solo, I usually look for easier routes (F or PD) and easy rock climbing (UIAA grade I-II). But I make exceptions occasionally.
I like that attitude. Safety always first!

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by J3footballer » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:07 pm

Wow that's a great picture. I see that Weismies required rope though.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by rgg » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:56 pm

J3footballer wrote:Wow that's a great picture. I see that Weismies required rope though.


If you do the normal route, over the glacier, then yes, you need a rope. On the SE ridge not necessarily, but it depends on what you're comfortable with. It's UIAA grade II. As I wrote earlier, I didn't climb it but a friend of mine soloed this route. He doesn't solo anything higher than II.

Snow on the ridge can make it harder of course. With conditions like in the photo above, I totally understand that the climber is roped up; I don't think I want to solo that myself. But in good conditions there will be little or no snow on the ridge except very high up.

If you browse the summit log entries, you can read about the sort of conditions people encountered, and whether they were alone or not. Not everybody writes that information in the logs, but there are so many logs for Weissmies, You can get a pretty good idea. There are relevant log entries for Weissmiess, for the SE-ridge and for the traverse (where it's actually called the SSE ridge):

http://www.summitpost.org/weissmies/climbers-log/150231 - look for entries that mention SE ridge, traverse or Almageller
http://www.summitpost.org/weissmies-se-ridge/climbers-log/651420
http://www.summitpost.org/traverse-from-sse-ridge-to-nw-flank-sw-r/climbers-log/158690

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by J3footballer » Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:28 pm

Oh I gotcha. Have you by any chance done any climbing in Greenland, Canada or Alaska? Just some other places that have peaked my interest. Excuse the pun.

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by rgg » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:03 pm

Nope.

I don't expect that I'll ever go to Greenland. Way too expensive in so many regards. I'm not criticizing, I understand why it is, but for the amount of money needed for even a short trip to Greenland I can spend a whole summer in the mountains elsewhere.
I haven't been to Canada or Alaska, but I'm not ruling that out. I don't have concrete plans, nor any mountains that I really want to climb there. That said, I've read some interesting trip reports about Mount Logan...

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Re: Crampon/ice axe climbing

by J3footballer » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:15 pm

Right on. Yeah, I've heard similar things about Greenland. Maybe someday.


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