Ascent to Sherpa Peak-Around 8500'; Horizontal Traverse Section on 2011-06-25

Climber: Bri Wilson

Others in Party:Sherpa Team: Karl Themer
Tyler Barton
Drew Eliott
Paul Forman

Stuart Team: Jason
Date:Saturday, June 25, 2011
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Point Reached:Sherpa Peak - Around 8500'; Horizontal Traverse Section
    Elevation:8605 ft / 2622 m

Ascent Trip Report

Went out with a team of 11 climbers to split up and climb Stuart and Sherpa. Goal was to split up and each attempt both peaks in a day, maybe 2 if time allowed. Headed out from Esmeralda basin, up and over Longs pass, and dropped to Ingalls creek; keeping left of the stream coming down from Longs pass. We crossed the Ingalls creek at an decent location 100 yards up from where the stream from Longs pass intersected. We picked up the trail about 100 yards from the creek. Heading east of the trail we passed the Cascadian couloir in on a meadow trail, and headed up a thin boot path at the Beverly Turnpike Trail junction that ended very quickly. This is a classic climbers trail sections of shitty dirt and bushes and things getting stuck to your hair/clothes. We headed east to cross a stream just below a waterfall and climbed onto a broad ridge. Snow again! We climbed the ridge until about 5900 ft then traversed east into Sherpa basin. Camped in the Sherpa basic 6300' and reached it around 130-2. Headed out for Sherpa about 530am on the 25th with a team of 5. Ascended a steep couloir unroped and transferred onto rock scramble sections. Some upper 4-low 5 sections. Route finding at this point is difficult; we used a compilation of beta. Once you reach the top area of a ridge if you look left you will see an upper 5th chimney that involves a short traverse to get to--we stayed R and set a hand line across about an 80-100foot horizontal traverse. about 1/3 to 1/2 way on the traverse there is an exposed section with a tall rock and a very thin crack. Great friction skills, a tall individual, or a very experienced climber can get through this bit fine. I attempted a pull up, slipped, and caught myself on the thin ledge below. I felt this move was not safe for me to attempted on a hand line again, turned around, traversed, and waited on the ridge for my other 4 team members to return from the summit. It took them 5 hours RT from this point. They reported the rest of the route is very sketchy and the summit (not balance rock) is a small platform. Sherpa is not a simple climb.

The entire Sherpa climb took 14 hours. The group on Stuart took 12. This meant we only each attempted one peak and headed out at around 930am on the 26th. Got back to the cars around 230pm and at lunch at mexican restaurant at 330pm. Yum yum.

Here is Karl's beta for attempting Sherpa from the basin:

From camp at 6300' we ascended the right side of the basin past cliff bands. At about 7100' we entered a steep, narrow gully. We had put in steps the evening before which helped a lot in the early morning when the snow is frozen. At about 7600' the gully splits and we went left, then at 7900' we went right and up to 8100' on the ridge, about 100' above Sherpa pass. From here we scrambled on dirt into the first pitch, a snow and ice filled corner which we climbed unroped with crampons. This would probably require a handline when the snow is gone; there is a rappel anchor at the top of this pitch. Then some easy scrambling before arriving at a short, 20' wall of low 5th class. We belayed this section, but discovered on the descent that this can be avoided by scrambling around to the left (South). After crossing a small snow field we climbed another 4th class dihedral with a handline, arriving once again at an existing anchor on the ridge proper at about 8400' at the base of the headwall below the balanced rock. From here we climbed on the North side of the ridge using three consecutive handlines to reach the summit. These handline pitches traverse a lot of extremely exposed 2nd and 3rd class terrain and I can't imagine anyone ever climbing it unroped. There was one short section of tricky snow which should melt out soon. The final pitch had some easy snow before a low 5th class chimney which took us directly to the main summit. This is not the 4th class chimney West of the summit described in the guide which is further away. Our chimney allowed for a more direct climb to the summit but involved squeezing through a tight constriction behind a chock stone. Eight hours after leaving camp we arrived at the summit. We were the first to sign the summit register in 2011. The descent took another six hours and involved traversing back over the three handlines which we had left in place, then two rappels down the 4th class pitches before plunge stepping down the approach gully. A very long and tiring day. Party size of four and lots of patience recommended on future climbs.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:7205 ft / 2195 m
    Elevation Loss:7205 ft / 2195 m
    Grade/Class:"Basic" Alpine; 3-5
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Nice, some cloud covering
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:5705 ft / 1738 m
    Extra Loss:1500 ft / 457 m
    Route:S Route
    Trailhead:Esmeralda Basin/Longs Pass Trail   4400 ft / 1341 m
    Time Up:14 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:5705 ft / 1738 m
    Extra Gain:1500 ft / 457 m
    Route:S Route
    Trailhead:Esmeralda Basin/Longs Pass Trail  4400 ft / 1341 m
    Time Down:10 Hours 30 Minutes

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