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The Climbing Club • View topic - Wedge Mountain

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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 Post subject: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:51 am 
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Dr. Crevasse
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Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2002 11:17 am
Posts: 921
Location: Seattle
"Climb a success. Flat tire, we have." was the message that Ethan left on multiple voice mails. The drive home turned out to be the crux of this weekend's adventure, but not because of the flat tire.

Saturday morning, Ethan, Obadiah and I headed north to Canada to climb the Northeast Arete of Wedge Mountain. I had be eying this climb for quite some time. From all of the photos I'd seen, it looked like Eldorado's summit ridge, but more so for a couple of kilometers. When we got to Everett, Obadiah commented that he forgot his passport, so we headed back to Seattle. Once we picked it up, we were off again. The border crossing was very straightforward, and we headed into Vancouver. Vancouver seemed nice, but I was a little put off that the highway turns into surface streets and you're forced to crawl through the city. Once we made it through, we were on the very scenic Sea to Summit Highway, which is under construction to prepare for the 2010 Olympics at Whistler. During the drive, you're forced to change lanes at random places without warning. It kind of feels like being a marble in a track. After crawling slowly through Squamish, we made it to the trailhead and set off around 2 PM.

There's not much to say about the approach. It was mostly on a nice trail that went up. We moved at a pretty good clip and made it to the Wedgemont Lake at about 5 PM. Rarely have I done such a short approach and found such a scenic payoff. We found a tent platform and set up camp.

View of NE Arete on Wedge from camp.
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Obadiah in camp
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We lounged for quite awhile before making dinner. Then it was down to the lake for a long photo shoot. You'll have to wait for Ethan's and Obadiah's photos to see the light at the lake. It was very scenic. At this point the clouds had rolled in and were blocking the views of the nearby summits. After sunset we headed to bed with the plan of getting up at 2 AM to climbing.

When the alarms went off at 2 AM, everything was socked in above us. We were looking at the clouds and saw flashes of lightning. We decided to sleep for another hour and then look again. When we woke up at 3 AM, the sky was completely clear. We quickly ate and started around the lake to the toe of the glacier. We put on crampons and avoided the deep slush (mostly) to gain the glacier. We stayed to climbers left and did not rope up. The NE Arete often gets soloed, so we figured this would be ok.

Obadiah in the moonlight
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We kicked steps up to the col between Wedge and Weart. From here we scrambled some rock to gain the arete.

Ascending to the col
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Rock Scrambling
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James Turner
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Once on the arete proper, we followed that for a couple of kilometers to where it steepens. The route was mostly on snow, but there were some sections of 2nd and 3rd class scrambling. The snow had hardened a little bit, but was definitely not refrozen. Some of the arete was fairly narrow so significant amounts of care were required.

Wedge and the NE arete
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Scrambling on rock
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Somewhere on the arete, we found a rap anchor from a group that had bailed down a couloir on the side. Obadiah and I were quite perplexed as it looked like he and I could have moved the boulder that was slung. There were way better options nearby (plus it looked pretty easy to downclimb the couloir). We cleaned the gear.

Eventually the route steepens to 45 degrees to gain the summit ridge. Here the snow was a little softer than I'd like, but still not really difficult.

Just before the route steepens. Good view of the arete to this point.
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Ethan ascending the arete below the steep section
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Obadiah and the arete
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We topped out and walked the 100 m or so to the true summit. We hung out at the top for about an hour as we ate, admired the views, and watched the clouds roll through. Then we headed back down. The snow had softened somewhat, but the descent was still pretty straightforward.

Descending from the summit
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Rather than follow the arete all the way around, we decided to head down to a saddle, where we roped up and dropped onto the glacier. We made good time down, even with negotiating some snice covered ice patches on the glacier. It would have been nice to have a couple of screws for a running belay. But we made it down fine just the same. We spent some time admiring (read photographing) a glacial tarn.

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From there we quickly made it back to camp for food and a nap. We timed the whole thing pretty perfectly, since when we looked back at Wedge it was completely socked in. An hour and half later, we packed up and rocketed down the trail to the car (~1.5 hrs). As we descended Obadiah commented that it was nice to do a peak you feel should be well within your ability and have it be straightforward. It make you feel competent. He also commented that the approach was similar in some ways to the Colchuck Lake approach. Unfortunately the parallel continued when we found one of my tires had gone flat (just like after the Icecliff on Stuart).

We enjoyed the watermelon that Obadiah brought (what a delicious post-climb treat) then changed the tire. Ethan tried to find out where we could get a new tire in Whistler or Squamish on Sunday night, but it was not to be. So we headed south at no more than 80 km/hr (or 50 mi/hr once we crossed the border). We stopped for a delicious dinner in Squamish at a restaurant whose name eludes me at the moment. It was one of the greatest veggie burger's I've ever had.

The rest of the drive through Canada was uneventful. We even found a time saving route through Vancouver. The excitement began again at the border crossing. We pulled in to the crossing, handed over our passports, and waited to be waved through. The guard looked at my car and asked me about my missing license plate (I had not realized). He ran the plates and they came up as stolen. He repeatedly told me about the severity of this and how we could be hauled off at gunpoint. I nodded and agreed (what more could I do). We had to pull over and go inside. After talking with another border guard, who spoke with the police, we determined that my front plate was stolen when my car was stolen during the fall. The police had never told me, and I never noticed. The guard said that it needed to be replaced immediately and that I was running risk if I was pulled over. I would be taken out of the car at gun point because this was a felony. I convinced them that I would take car of it and we were on our way. The whole thing had taken about an hour. Fortunately for them, they did not search my car. We stopped in Bellingham for gas, Gatorade and ice cream and were headed south again. I finally made it home by 1:30 AM. What a long day.

It was an awesomely fun climb in an phenomenally scenic area with great partners. I hope to make it up to BC more often, after I get new license plates.

The rest of my photos are

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"It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid." Q


Last edited by Jim Prager on Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:56 am 
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giving spoon
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:32 pm
Posts: 614
Location: Daddy
Nice alpine goodness. The boarder always seems to provide entertainment, eh?

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Somehow I find Nature knows how best to push the lazy human form from its comfortable life and knock him face down into the living of it.
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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:03 pm 
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Alpine Slogger
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:01 am
Posts: 826
Location: Too far from a summit
Your stolen car episode continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. Fantastic! The climbing looks pretty nice as well...


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:06 pm 
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The Shepherd
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 12:37 pm
Posts: 787
Location: Ravenna
Looks like a very scenic and cool climb. Sorry about the car woes though! Just a thought, I would never take the regular border crossing. The truck stop crossing is usually faster, and it puts you on a straight shot to Highway 1 so you can completely bypass going through Vancouver. Having been stuck in Vancouver going that way, I feel your pain. You can also save time by going the same way back, but make sure you take the right exit (clearly marked) or you end up going to a much further crossing unless you realize you missed it and turn around.


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:10 pm 
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giving spoon
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:32 pm
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Location: Daddy
Yes, ALWAYS take the truck crossing up to highway 1. If you take the regular route, 99 dumps you into downtown Vancouver, no where near a freeway.

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Somehow I find Nature knows how best to push the lazy human form from its comfortable life and knock him face down into the living of it.
-J. Hummel


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:25 pm 
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The 11th Essential
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Location: Boulder, CO


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:31 pm 
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giving spoon
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:32 pm
Posts: 614
Location: Daddy
That option does seem much better than just staying on 99 the whole way. I would be very surprised if it was faster than 15 though. Regardless you don't want to be taking the Peace Arch crossing, it is almost always a mess. If the truck crossing is bad you can always drive up the side to the duty free, buy something then just hop back in near the front of the line!

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Somehow I find Nature knows how best to push the lazy human form from its comfortable life and knock him face down into the living of it.
-J. Hummel


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:59 pm 
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The Shepherd
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 12:37 pm
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Location: Ravenna
Yep, gotta stop at duty free for scotch anyway, so you may as well take advantage of cutting the line :drink:


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:20 pm 
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The 11th Essential
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:28 am
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Location: Boulder, CO
This climb was stellar. I mean, what more could you ask for?


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:07 pm 
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UW Climber
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:29 am
Posts: 468
Location: Seattle
nice job guys and great photos, Ethan! I'm curious why you didn't ditch the tent and sleep in the hut? To be closer to the mountain in the morning?


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:18 pm 
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Alpine Slogger
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:01 am
Posts: 826
Location: Too far from a summit
Drool....


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:25 pm 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 6:39 pm
Posts: 1945
Location: Bashing Brush
Nice photos, Ethan. However, I was really hoping for one of your famed close-up shots of an angry border guard ordering you all out of the car. :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:28 pm 
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The 11th Essential
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Location: Boulder, CO


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:32 pm 
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UW Climber
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:29 am
Posts: 468
Location: Seattle
ah yes... I guess that's the difference between June and February... ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Wedge Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:42 pm 
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Longshanks
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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:47 pm
Posts: 927
Location: Denver
On the other hand, we might have avoided the effing mosquitoes if we'd stayed in the hut! Great TR, Jim. and Awesome photos Ethan! I'll get mine up eventually. I was sure I'd beat you though, given all the work you must have to do processing photos from Nepal!

This was a great trip with great companions. :drink:


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