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Trip Report

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Participants: Nicolas Jimenez, Paul Kubik

Map of area: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php

Nicolas drove down on Friday evening from Vancouver to join me in Mazama for an early morning start. We started off at 5 AM for the 20 minute drive to the trailhead about 3 miles west of Washington Pass. There was already a car with Oregon plates parked at the TH so we had no trouble finding the large cairn that marks the start of the trail. Using headlamps for the first hour, we climbed into the basin below the south buttress on the climber's trail - a steep beaten path with loose rock.

Nicolas drove down on Friday evening from Vancouver to join me in Mazama for an early morning start. We started off at 5 AM for the 20 minute drive to the trailhead about 3 miles west of Washington Pass. There was already a car with Oregon plates parked at the TH so we had no trouble finding the large cairn that marks the start of the trail. Using headlamps for the first hour, we climbed into the basin below the south buttress on the climber's trail - a steep beaten path with loose rock.

At the top of the trail, we needed to choose between the left hand and right hand gully approaches to the climb. The two climbers from Oregon were just getting ready to leave from their bivy and after discussion with them we all decided to go up the right hand gully together to minimize rockfall hazard. The RH gully is less loose but requires a 30 foot rappel to gain the notch above the LH gully.

From the top of the RH gully it is a short walk to the notch. While setting up for the rappel, Nicolas discovered he'd left his belay and rappel device at home. Fortunately, one of the Oregon climbers remembered he had a spare and lent it to Nicolas. We rapped into the notch, which is the start of Pitch 1 in the SuperTopo guide. We heard a couple of voices below, which turned out to be a couple more climbers from Seattle who came up the LH gully. We now had representatives from all areas of the so-called Cascadia region - British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.

The pitch numbers align with the SuperTopo Washington Pass Climbing guidebook by Ian Nicolson (published 2012). Pitch 1 begins with a 5.7 move to get out of the notch. Then the rest of the pitch and pretty much all of Pitches 2, 3 and 4 are Class 2, 3 and 4, which we simul-climbed without belay. After that, most of the climbing was up short steep steps and abundant gravelly ledges. After a while, I sort of lost count which pitch we were on in relation to the SuperTopo. I was surprised when Nicolas thought we were already on Pitch 8 and the first crux was just ahead. It was only around 8:30 AM. Nicolas made short work of all the leads with me bringing up the rear.

Pitch 12 is the hard crux. SuperTopo refers to it as a box chimney with a right hand exit. Nicolas climbed the chimney about halfway before exiting onto the right hand wall in what he termed a "committing move". When I followed him up, I found the committing move to be not too hard (I wasn't leading!) but had difficulty continuing higher to exit the chimney onto the right hand face. Try as I might, the exit just wouldn't go. It felt to me to be 5.9 or 5.10. I peeled off but then found I could angle away from the line and found a much easier exit around 5.6. A bit of easy face climbing took me above the cam I fell on and was able to lean down and work it out of the crack. A bit more face climbing took me to the level of the top of the chimney. The exit from the face seemed a bit off camber. You can sort of embrace the rock, smear onto it and make a long stretch to reach easy ground or take a short step down and do a mantle with the rope at a diagonal before stepping easily off the face. I think the latter is a bit easier and the method I preferred because I was climbing in shorts.

Pitch 12 brings you to the Two Humps, which are a couple of false summits. From the top of the box chimney, a scramble on sand brings you to another notch separating the summit from the Humps. We downclimbed into the notch (Class 4). Pitch 13 is another 5.7+ exit from the notch. Again, once you commit to the one move it is over pretty quickly after that. Pitch 14 I don't recall although SuperTopo says it is 5.0. Pitch 15 is the last climbing pitch and requires a 5.7 layback for about 3 meters. Pitch 16 is just a walk up onto the summit. It took us about 31/2 hours to reach the summit from the top of the RH gully approach.

The Seattle climbers had overtaken the Portland climbers and were now at the top of Pitch 12. Nicolas was for going down the West Ridge route but after discussion with the Seattle climbers it seemed it was best to rap the south buttress although it requires 14 mostly short rappels. The west ridge is decried as being loose and exposed and is typically shunned.

There are well-defined rap stations already in place the entire length of the south buttress. I think the rapelling took almost as much time as the climbing. By the time Nicolas and I had reached the base of the climb at the lower notch (top of the LH gully) the Seattle climbers were right behind us. We all decided to rap the LH gully together which proved to be a good thing as there is loose rock in it and a lot more than the RH gully.

Altogether the south buttress is a good climb. The major criticism is the loose and sandy rock in places. The pluses are the great approach (short and sweet), great belay and rap stations, good climbing in the 5.8 range but not so hugely sustained that it is overwhelming for casual rock climbers like myself. But better climbers like Nicolas might be left wanting more.

 

 

South Buttress from Whister Mountain
South Buttress from Whistler Mountain.

Approach above RH gully
Approach above RH gully.

Nicolas uncoiling
Nicolas uncoiling.

Nicolas rappelling
Nicolas rappelling into the notch above the LH gully.

Pitches 2 and 3
Pitches 2 and 3.

Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12
Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12.

Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12
Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12.

Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12
The Portland climbers conferring about the route. Whistler Mountain on the right behind the climbers.

Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12
Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12.

Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12
Somewhere between Pitch 5 and 12.

Pitch 12
Pitch 12. Nicolas at the base of the box chimney.

Pitch 12
Pitch 12. Nicolas in the off camber move exiting off the face.

Looking down onto west ridge from the summit notch
Looking down onto west ridge from the summit notch.

After the 5.7 exit from the notch
After the 5.7 exit from the summit notch.

Seattle climbers at Two Humps
Seattle climbers at Two Humps.

Cutthroat summit with Frisco Mountain in background
Cutthroat summit with Frisco Mountain in background.

Rap anchor at top of Pitch 15
Rap anchor at top of Pitch 15.


Portland lead climber exiting Pitch 12 crux.

Rap
Rap.


Seattle climber rapping.


Pitch 1 above first notch.

Photos
Cutthroat Peak from Whistler Mountain
_Cutthroat Peak from Whistler Mountain
https://bcmc.ca/m/photos/get_image/file/fa9bc76dedc23a485210069ffa9652ce.jpg
Trip Reporter
19.09.2013 (1586 Days Ago)
Trip Report TitleCutthroat Peak South Buttress
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  •  JPorter wrote 1179 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    406 days ago looked great bravo
     
       
     
     
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