One particularly good reason to live West of the Rockies is you basically within driving, even if it's a long drive, distance of probably 70% of these climbs. Not a single person has climbed all 50. Some are amazingly, terribly dangerous to the point of being near-suicidal to even attempt, such as Mount Logan via the Hummingbird Ridge. Fortunately many of these climbs are actually fairly moderate!
This was especially the case for my weekend. The intent was to get on this classic traverse from one mountain over to Forbidden Peak (also, her trip report is much, much better than mine). It's a traverse many certified guides use as practice before their exams, or ambitious climbers use to test their skills and spend a couple of days wildly exposed. In our case it turned out be a good thing weather turned south...
We knew heading in that weather would be poor in the morning but clearing up between 11am and noon. The approach went quick and we spent an hour just waiting out the weather, and things did start to clear up enough for us to go up a gully. Then this happened:
Two of my friends are in that cloud. So, uh, fuck it! We're not getting on this ridge with zero visibility and wet conditions. A very janky rappel later...
And we ended up camp early, about 4pm. We went light where nobody brought hot food so we all kind of ate burritos and sandwiches and slept on some nice rocks and got ready for the next day. Woke up at 3am to start moving at 4am except it was still cloudy as shit! Jesus! The weather forecast was off by 24 hours. By 5am though things finally cleared up and gave us an amazing sunrise.
It's a steeper snow climb leading up to a mostly decayed glacier before you actually hit the rock, it always makes me sad seeing glacial recession and some of the best features on this planet turning into snowfields, and eventually being gone for good.
There's a few ways up, and we opted for the couloir which turned into an endeavor. We had to do some mixed steep snow/wet rock climbing to get over a broken snow finger and set-up a picket belay and rope to get everyone up. That was probably one of the more time consuming and dangerous aspects of the entire day.
Quick stop for lunch on the notch and where I put on sunscreen and chapstick where none of the other three did and well, that didn't work out so well for them...we opted to start the route with hoping over a 5-foot wide chasm that you really didn't want to fall through. This is where the West Ridge starts and the rock quality is truly excellent - not very loose, dry, great belay spots, and wildly exposed up to the summit. Did the entire thing in my mountaineering boots which was nice to be able to climb that grade without rock shoes.
The climbing movement felt great, a little boulder-y and strong but not very technical except for one stretch. I could not have been happier moving freely at 8,000+ ft on the edge of the rock and having hundreds to thousands of feet of drop-off on either side. Just so, so fun!
And sunset on the way down - with our later start and some inefficiency on the way up (namely the goddamn picket belay situation, and getting off-route at one point, and the route being busy) we ended up doing two rappels in total darkness and going back down the glacier to camp in the dark. Always a good time having a bit of an epic as long as things stay safe.
The top of this ridgeline is where we were climbing.
Looking over at a mountain I climbed last year.
Looking across at a mountain I have not climbed yet and is one of the most challenging and dangerous in the state.
Slept in until 8am and took two hours back to the car. Somehow the beers I left in my buddy's truck were cold (truly a shocking experience) which was awesome. 11am beers were a great breakfast. Just a fun group of people to be out with, one minor safety incident on our other rope team on the rappels but other than that no real issues outside of inefficiency on the climb. Great first experience on a "Classic Climb"!