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Ascent of Mount Buckner on 2010-07-11

Climber: Eric Noel

Others in Party:Dennis Poulin
Ken Russell
Adam Walker
Craig Willis
Date:Sunday, July 11, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Buckner
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:9114 ft / 2777 m

Ascent Trip Report

Day one was a smooth ascent up to the Sahale Glacier camp. Lingering snow before the pass and off and on up the arm. Mostly snow near camp. Great sunny weather though a little toasty for my taste.

Day two was the ascent. Go E to where the snow drops below the cliffs of the upper edge of the rock rib. We got off of the snow onto the rock at 7100'. Easy terrain but it has a bit of exposure. Find a fairly well-worn bootpath. Descend a bit and there is some scrambling in a few places that is probably class 3. Getting around a tree was the hardest on the descent. Finally reach a steep narrow snow ramp at 6700' to the L with a solitary evergreen marking the rib on the S side of the snow finger. Descend this very carefully. We actually went a different way on the descent by dropping right into some streams and down snow covered slabs and around the base of the arm. A third option of dropping off the rock all the way on the arm looked scariest. Take the snow ramp.

Traverse across the basin on fairly easy but long terrain. Mostly snow for us. Don't get too high too early. After crossing under a rock arm, start to ascend to a gully at about 8000'. We crossed over to the right side of the gully and up a snow sleep that is fairly steep for 1000 feet. Hit the ridgeline just S of the peak. Easy blocky scrambling gets you to the summit though there is some exposure. Cornices, icy snow and weather moving in caused us to skip the other summit. The descent down the steep snow was not without some concern. Finally I got to the gully crossing and was able to get in a little glissade. The way back up was pretty much the same, no major issues. We were in a cloud up above 7000' but it was not too bad.

Overnight the wind really kicked up and we didn't get much sleep. We awoke in a cloud with even less visibility than the day before and a powerful wind. We were hit by the wind as soon as we got away from our rock shelter and once we crested the lip of snow off of camp we were almost blown over. For a few hundred feet it was quite hard to stand up in the wind. It got better as we descended and thanks to Dennis's GPS navigation we were able to get lower and find the trail. Eventually we got out of the worst of the wind and wind. It was still cold and windy the whole way and started raining in the last hour. How quickly the weather changed from summer to winter like conditions!

This is a great area and would merit a higher rating than a 7 on the Eric system but a malfunctioning camera and the change in weather dragged it down a bit. And my disappointment at poor conditions for making the alternate summit also was palpable. But I don't mind coming back.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:8114 ft / 2471 m
    Elevation Loss:8114 ft / 2471 m
    Distance:20 mi / 32.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3 w/ Steep Sno
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Sunny Summer on day 1. Sunny and then a cloud rolled in on day 2. Powerful winds and a whiteout on d
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:6914 ft / 2106 m
    Extra Loss:1400 ft / 426 m
    Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:Sahale Arm-Horseshoe Basin-SW Slopes
    Trailhead:Cascade Pass TH  3600 ft / 1097 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:6714 ft / 2045 m
    Extra Gain:1200 ft / 365 m
    Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:Sahale Arm-Horseshoe Basin-SW Slopes
    Trailhead:Cascade Pass TH  3600 ft / 1097 m



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