The fried Honey Badger and the Sherpa –or ”…no parking spots?”
Sherpa Peak (8605', p405')
East Ridge scramble route
August 27-28, 2011
Weather: Scorching hot sun (90s)
Sun: rise 6:21, set 8:00p
Maps/trails: USGS Mount Stuart, NFT 1394, 1390, 1229 and 1215
Should I wait
A beautiful weekend, well maybe a little hot for my liking. I’d just finished a very long day trip of Clark and Luahna with an overnight park in case it was longer than expected. Then the unexpected bushwack on the White River trail… Ugh. I was ready for a rest. But the weather was prime and it was Saturday morning. A little late in the morning but still a nice day. Contacted Andy, he planned to be do Sherpa on Sunday. I had thought of a trip up Chiwawa River area then Sherpa on Sunday, but the thirst for the alpine was greater than my energy and miles left in my legs.
Into Leavenworth with the Wildfire still burning in Tumwater Canyon. Weird seeing flames along the road. Breakfast and shopping for more food, a nice cruise to the Teanaway, then on the dusty gravel potholed road (9737) found myself in rush hour traffic and campers everywhere. A new clear cut area with people cutting the timber stacked for removal by the loggers next to signs that said “no cutting”. Then further on the ok to cut wood area. Bummer to see the large timber already cut for lumber to be cut into firewood. What a waste of the large trees. And the smaller to be scrapped logs so close.
Through the dust I arrived at the Beverley parking lot. Cars strewn from a quarter mile before. I’m paying the price for a late start.
Walking with the hoards
Re-packed and on the trail at 9:55 (c4274’). The hike up went well even with the repetition of the same trail –again… Passed several groups on the way up. I felt like I was people watching. 50min (1.4m, c5322’) a right onto Long Pass Tr #1228. Being late morning I’d hoped for cooler, but the heat of the day was looking to start rising above my fun threshold. Now up with no shade. Rocks and passing more people. The trail to Ingalls like looked like a Congo line. So many trips seeing no-one (or almost no-one) and this sight of crowds was making this a very odd feeling trip. In less than an hour and a half, I was at Longs Pass (2.5m, c6235’). Looking north to Sherpa and Stuart I saw no snow to encounter. I lightened my pack by stashing crampons and ice ax. For the first time all year I was not needing them.
Mt Stuart Upper pitches of Stuart
Ridge east of Stuart Argonaut
Looking toward Not Hinkhouse
Long Pass 360 interactive panorama
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Down the snake trail
A snack break and time to view my route, then I dropped down the serpentine trail again passing more people negotiating the loose top portion.
Long Pass trail –north side
Past a camp option at c5535 and c5120 (no water). And in the shade at Ingalls Creek at c4940’, about 1300’ below Longs Pass (3.6m, 2h24min, 12:28p). The cool creek was inviting and I took the opportunity to refill on water (5L) and soak the feet. Ah, coolness : ). Time to go and darn the pack felt heavy. After seeing the dryness on Longs Pass and having no idea of any water options past the creek I wanted to be prepared.
No creek crossing issues with it being so low and a north of the creek. It was hot and I wasn’t feeling in any hurry.
I found Ingalls Creek trail (FST1215). East bound I passed several campsites with cities of tents. In .2 miles from gaining the trail the first trail up (left), full camp site on the right. Another .1 miles another large camp and the second trail going up (north). I recognized this one as the one I used for descent of the Mt Stuart West Ridge in 08’. Another .35 miles the woods open to a large field. Flat space for two tents on the left and 50’ before the Beverly Turnpike Trail FST1391 (on right) (from TH, 4.4m, c4864, 3h19m, 1:14p).
Flowers are out The path up into the meadow –time to gain elevation
Looking up the opening, Sherpa could be seen in the waverley hot of the day.
View from Ingalls creek of Sherpa
I’d soon found that the temps had vastly surpassed my heat threshold. I was to feel like a slug on hot pavement. And the joys gaining altitude with 5L of water! Ugh. That’s FIVE, not one half Liters... The trail seems obvious heading up the meadow. Then it peters out. Ha! Missed something. On the way up at a fallen tree (9” log) with the path in the middle of it, the trail veers left into the trees. In the shade of the trees the dry trail switches up. Still hot I moved from shade spot to shade spot. Resting from the heat on a log I heard voices above. Soon, I met a nice couple that had made an attempt on Cascadian Couloir with their dog. The dog wasn’t looking to be doing well. They’d had a late start turning back from Ingalls Trails to come up the Beverly turnpike due to dog restrictions. Nice of them to follow the rules. Whereas I’d passed so many dogs and owners on the way in and out that found the rules don’t apply to them. Honestly, I saw more dogs in the “no dog” areas than I’ve ever seen on Dogs allowed trails.
My kingdom for a cool place to camp
Trees ended and trail got rocky c5800’. c6000’ (5.2m, 4h40m) I was close to a buttress area with a tight gulley ahead and a trickle of a stream.
Up dryness to buttress and right Over ridge and into giant boulders…
I crossed under the buttress and east up the loose scree slope to a ridge finding a cairn (54m, c6250, 2:50p). I was too high on the ridge and dropped down the east side on a scramble traverse NE off the ridge and under a buttress. Past the buttress and field of giant boulders directly toward Sherpa. Dodging forth and back through them like a maze and on the other side an oasis. I wasn’t imagining this. All dry around and here was a lush green area with flowing water 18” deep, mini falls and a small crystal clear pond (c150-200sqft). I pinched myself, could this be? Yes, pure sweetness! I celebrated with another feet soaking and not far uphill found a bivy spot on a big flat boulder (5.65m, c6315’, 5h10m, 3:05p). Laughing, that all this beautiful water and I’d bucked 5 liters up. maybe apropos give the name of the peak.
Food hung, and a small pack, with rope and pro packed, I headed direct up the slope toward the obvious Sherpa. Basically class 2 scrambling. At the buttress an option. Left for a large gulley that I heard is not so fun near the top, or right and up a steeper section and the gulley that leads to the saddle east of the summit. I chose right.
Right gulley Looking back down the route
The scrambling went to cl3 up some ledges. I marked the top with a temporary cairn. Not sure how easy it would be coming down and if it was dark…
Easy scrambling up to another small steep area. I went up and into some cl4+. Hmmm, not the way I’d like to come down.
Gulley crux Above the crux
Scenic stuff in the gulley
Now slabby areas with loose rock. I worked my way up the left side to a notch that looked down the left gulley. I’m glad I took the one I did. The left side looked very loose. The last few hundred feet to the saddle were smaller loose rock. It was still hot, real hot. I was stopping to keep from over exerting and drinking plenty of fluids.
Almost to the joining of the gulleys and looking down the gulley
Rainer and east to the Enchantments
Where’s the route
From the saddle I headed left (west) through and over large boulders up a gradual cl2 slope to a steeper section. A “chimney” in the middle had some tat (old sling material) up high.
I scrambled up the slot (cl3+) to another flatter area above. There were numerous obvious tracks in the sand. Most heading to the right. I went that way working to the NE side. Looking up the boulders looked like a stiffer scramble or climb. I dropped back down and went the left option along the SE side.
Right South option and left north side option
Up and over the ridge rock up onto a ridge to another small bowl and another close out wall. Back to cl3 nice rock using holds and little ledge footings. Maybe a cl4 move near the top. The top ended at a small ridge with rap slings –not in very good condition.
Now what? To the right on the NE side was an angled slab with exposure. Looks like what Carla and Matt’s group had done. On the left of the ridge (SE side) another exposed sloped slab led to a cl4 few steps up to a mini saddle.
Left (south) route Center Ridge route Right north side route
I went the south side (left) route, feeling a little exposed and checking each hand and foot hold carefully. At the top of this more tat.
Looking dow from chimney/slot #3 above Chimney #3 below Balanced Rock
From here cl 3 scramble up and right directly under the balancing rock.
Summit to the left and looking up as I’m under the Balanced Rock
There I stood at the balancing rock I’d seen for so many years. So cool! Just looking up I got dizzy. I had rope and pro, but every time I looked up I got vertigo. I climbed up thinking about ascending it, but backed off. Doing this solo and the day was waning. I had limited time and still wasn’t on the summit.
An old nut (not me being the old nut) close up of the Rock, ready to boulder?
The summit was due west, yet there was not an easy route to it.
Still not at the summit –how to get there?
Hmmm, now what? Leaving the Balancing Rock behind I descended carefully down the NE face on boulders. Down 50-70’ and traversed left (west) looking for an option to ascend.
Head west on the north side looking down gulley #4 choke stone at summit ridge
A small cl3 gulley/chimney looked inviting. Up I went to a chock stone at its top. Plenty more rap slings. To the left a giant boulder then a gap to cross to the final summit. I dislike exposure, so was more than happy to pull out the rope and set up a self-belay from the rap anchor.
Summit ridge exposure Balanced rock from the west
I belayed myself across the tilted boulder, over the gap and dropped to a crack/ledge next to the summit. Directly below my feet I found a summit register (6:30p, 2h55 from camp, 8620’). Yippee! No more crawling around trying to find my way up.
Food, drink, and admiring the views. Have you noticed that in this area so many rock formations look like faces. Stone giants keeping an eye on the world –enchanted…
The summit reg was one of the largest for pages and names I’ve seen in a long time. I shot my customary summit panos and watched the sun start to set as I hurriedly recorded each page. Cut short by the camera battery dying I now had a good excuse to leave. Bummer… Impressive due east of me was the Balancing rock. I’d dreamt of trying to surmount it, but with the sun setting I had no time to play around. It was nearing 7pm and sunset was at 8pm, I needed to get off this pile of rocks.
East to the Enchantments (Argonaut, Colchuck, Dragontail, Enchantment and Cannon Peaks
Sherpa Peak 360 interactive panorama
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Balance Rock and Stuart (far right)
Pack loaded, I belayed myself back to the rap anchor and lowered myself down the chimney. Rope stashed I retraced my steps east to the slab that I thought Matt had used to access (mentioned earlier). It was still not inviting and I was too lazy to pull out the rope.
Getting to the ridge above the #2 chimney via the north side
I stayed about 10-20’ above the slab on cl2-3 boulders to the east mini rib. From there it was a 6-8’ lower in a double crack on the corner of the boulder leaning in place. Sweet! I was back at the junction of slopping slab on the right or left (I’d taken left). Now a down climb of solid rock to a sandy flatter pitch. Hmmm third piece of clothing I’d found –a sock. Simple back tracking down the gentle easy pitch, left over a rib and down to more easy walk. Now a fun move down the last (lowest) chimney with webbing at the top in non-usable condition. Descent was going fast.
Looking down to the east saddle
Boulder hopping to the east saddle and loose crap down the skiers left gulley. Things slowed at the little drop off more than half way down. I’d come up climbers left and went down to the left. Typical laying on the ground some old yellow tat. I just down climbed and lowered the short distance. Going up and down was nice with no one to worry about dropping rock on me or visa-versa. At the end of the gulley I found my cairn and dismembered it as I worked the final ledges to the open scramble below. This was a long day. The long day yesterday and the heat of the day were wearing on me. Back at camp (8:25p, 7.8m, 4h45min rt), I soaked my feet in the peaceful trickling stream. The sun had set and as I started to cook dinner it became dark. I wished I’d had an early pre-dawn start with more time to enjoy camp and the surroundings. The sky changed to dark and stars dominated the scene around. I leaned back, ate and enjoyed another beautiful and peaceful evening in the mountains.
Here are my rough notes from camp up:
6320, soak feet then lv camp (3:35)
7000, Base of far right (east) solid rock gulley (stay climbers right)
7200, went up left cl4-5, easier to be on far right, yel tat at top (can't see from below)
7290, Middle cl3-4, far right cl5 fun crack
7725, Middle and right gulley connect - turns sandy
8040, Sherpa East Col (5:00)
8247, go left up rocks, then cl2 sandy sloping bench to first chimney
8290, top of chimney 1, cl 4 move at top. First rap anchors with ring
footsteps go sandy cl2 ramp north. Wrong way return.
8375, go left over rocks to south side and up sandy cl2
8411, up to solid rock wall,
crack on left and right of it a cl3 chimney #2 with a cl4 move to clear it
8488, second set rap anchor with brown SMC rap ring
1. Matts ledge due level NW -cl yuk black ledge-won't pro
2. Up ridge, 3" crack grows to 8" going up 6' on left side of large flake to cl2 ledge
(best easy bet)
3. Traverse slab on south side to cl4 chimney 20' away with rap anchor at top (visible)
8527, EBC choice #3 -chimney #3, rap anchor purp/yel),two more sets of anchors due south
8543, Top of CL4 gulley, then up and right under Balanced Rock
8589, ledge north at Balanced Rock (6:00, 2h25 from camp)
8550, Drop west and then north, traverse low and north
to an airy NW view and an airy small slab goes around corner,
back up and go up cl3-4 chimney #4 on left.
8608, Up 40'to NE side of canon hole with rap slings and ring angled to west side.
move 5' left and around boulder to slings, self-belay from rap anchor.
traverse airy rock slabs east to summit -good place to be roped up
8620, Summit Sherpa, 8625sat, 6:30p, 2h55 from camp
Lv summit, 6:53p –sunset at 8p!
rap chimney #4 (50m) to traverse under B Rock
above Matt's ledge easy cl2 with a cl3 mantle
on ridge proper downclimb 6' crack on climbers left of flake (worn)(cl4+)
to top of Chimney #2, downclimb
scramble back to East Col, no rope needed (7:38)
a crux ledge (cl3-4) climbers left is best (7:55p)
bigger crux, climbers right yellow sling -easy cl4 downclimb, (8p)
then traverse west to other side and down
Bottom of Gulley (8:08p)
6416, Camp (8:25pm, 7.8m)
Sweet cool morning, I don’t want to leave…
No rush in the morning. I took my time to pack and followed my up track out (7:00a). Leaving the oasis, crossing through the middle of the huge boulder field, under the buttress, traversing up to the ridge top and down the loose slope to cross the dry creek to catch the climbers trail just below the gap in the buttress. Whew, that was a mouth full. It was already getting warm as I dropped down the dusty trail zig zagging the trees west of the field. At the trail intersection shortly on the left was the Turnpike Creek trail (FST1391). I went west on the Ingalls Creek trail (FST 1215). Many tents nestled at each camp spot. I crossed and headed up the Longs Pass trail (FST 1229?). Just below Longs Pass I met up with AndyD. He had planned to come in, but I thought a day later and or schedules didn’t align. He was heading to Argonaut then Sherpa. I gave him as much beta as I could and wished him well.
Now at the Pass I took another break (10:00a, c6235’). The day was still young. What to do with a short day? I dropped my pack and headed NNW on the ridge water bottle in hand following an occasional path to point 6878 (aka “Not Hinkhouse Peak, 6878’, 10:42a). The last pitch reminded me of this area. Dry, loose and not much for vegetation. Not the beauty I am used to seeing on trips. Maybe a reason I don’t do many trips this way –I like green. Below was a long line of hikers heading up toward Ingalls Pass. This area has a very different flavor that the areas I’ve visited lately. So many people and dogs. Back at Longs Pass I got my stash of crampons and ice axe and started my way down. I lost track of the count of people heading up. I must have looked great, three days out and the people coming in in their clean neat outfits. I took shelter in the shade as a group of about 18 sorority girls came up in tank tops, tight shorts and water bottles in hand. A major contrast to me with long sleeves, sun hat, full pack with ice axe, rope…
The way down from the pass seems to go on and on. A group of 10 or so taking a break at the junction to Ingalls Pass trail (FST 1390). And I passed over 40 more the rest of the way to the parking lot. I didn’t mind. I was happy, three great summits and beautiful terrain the past three days. Both trips I’d repeat just to revisit and bivy under the stars. I forget about the dust and the heat as time goes by and remember the uplifting aspects of the trips. It was nearly a quarter mile walk down the road to my dust covered car ( 5.8+m, . Now for the long hot drive home (after a soak in the creek near the trailhead. On my way out I noticed that pile of harvested timber logs that were signed “do not cut” had been totally cut and removed by firewood collectors. Sad to cut the trees for timber and even worse that the large full length logs were cut by people for firewood. Perhaps too much effort for them to take the designated left overs. Okay rant over.
A great trip to polish off a three plus big mountains in a solo weekend. I’d hoped to have an earlier start for Sherpa to get in one more trip. Driving home I was happy that I’d not. The other places would be waiting. I’ll be back for this one to do the west route.
Thank you for reading and Happy Trails,
To Camp: 5.6m, +3490/-1515vert, 5h13m
Summit bid rt: 2.2m, +/- 2310, 2h55m up, 1h32m down (4h20m camp to camp)
Out: 5.8m +2233/-4282, 4h45min
tt: 13.5m, +/-8030vert, 14h18m
Gear: 50m rope, slings, nuts (didn’t use), brain bucket… extra water
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