Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Beats a Hangover

Jason and I took advantage of the New Year and the first snap of clear cold weather this winter to climb the North Face of Mt. Index North Peak on the first two days of the year.  I didn't even bother to stay up until midnight, trading my ego for sleep.  But after two days climbing with perfect weather on a big face, I knew my end of the bargain was much better than a hangover.

We got a fairly late start on the route at ~10am.  I anticipated a difficult approach but found that it couldn't be any easier.  A variable somewhat sketchy snowpack low on the route caused us some concern but conditions improved as we climbed.  There was very little ice.  Mostly snice, neve, deep unconsolidated snow, and the occasional half-inch of water ice.  The route is actually straightforward but only if you follow the topo.  The written description led us astray off unto the East Face where we were forced to climb through a short overhanging snice buldge and do a long rock traverse back into the N Face bowl.  

At the end of the first day I found myself off-route and pumping out while hanging onto some branches looking for an egress.  Eventually I slung the branches and rapped back down into the N Face bowl.  We dug a platform on the NE Rib which was about 2 inches wider than our tent's footprint and slopped away for a couple thousand feet on either side.  We stayed tied in that night.  

On day two we looked for another exit from the N Face bowl.  A shallow snice filled gully led the way to the upper gully and then the North Rib.  The North Rib felt pretty wild due to the iced over cracks and snow hidden holds given it a very alpine and definitively runout feel.  I'm glad we were able to finish this route.  It would have been a good day out at any rate, but now I know the area enough to facilitate for a speed ascent of the entire massif and I know the descent so I can come back for the West Face and know that I can get down in the dark.

The N Face of N Peak follow the line roughly
inside the R skyline and then directly upon
it for the upper third of the peak. 
Jason low on the route.

Somewhere on the E Face...ooops.

Jason following...

Still on the E Face...

The North Face Bowl

Heading for the tent, now it is quite dark

Looks like fun, right!?

Jason on the first pitch of the N Rib