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Ascent of North Breccia Cliffs on 2018-09-21

Climber: Victor Zhou

Date:Friday, September 21, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:North Breccia Cliffs
    Location:USA-Wyoming
    Elevation:11240 ft / 3425 m

Ascent Trip Report

Followed trail up saddle west of 10,385. Gained the 10,385 summit from the rockpiles not far below the summit. Wanted to traverse directly to the next saddle to the east but after some knife edge scrambling with heavy winds, decided it was too dicey. Backtracked to a wide grassy/dirt gully and rounded the boulders to the right of the ridge/cliffs to gain the saddle. Started up the ridge proper and did some class 3/4 moves (with footholds that broke off into bolivian on said moves), only to cliff out at a very large gendarme not too far from summit plateau.

I couldn't see a reasonable way across the right side of the gendarme, and the traverse around the left to the loose dirt gullies seemed way too sketchy and steep (maybe it was a reasonable route in past years, but eroded away since). I backtracked and downclimbed back to a small saddle not too far above the main lower saddle, then slowly sidehilled downwards to pass around a line of cliffs to gain directly the bottom of the loose dirt gully. From there it was a hellish climb on the loosest, steepest terrain I've encountered in recent memory. Guess this peak made for a fine intro/warning for me when it comes to Absaroka breccia terrain.

Route upon gaining the summit plateau was decent, and on the downclimb I ended up slowly descending the gully until I was below the main 10,385 saddle, clambering upwards a bit to gain it before contouring directly down from the saddle down grassy slopes and following the drainage to find my way back to the trail.

Maybe there's a viable route closer to the ridge crest, but I'd recommend hitting the Breccia/10,385 saddle directly when you see the drainage open up (unless you really want to summit 10,385), then dropping from the saddle for the tedious loose dirt slope to the upper plateau.
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