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Ascent of Agrihan High Point on 2018-06-02

Climber: Clint Kaul

Others in Party:Tony Cobb
Peter Frick-Wright
Ginge Fullen
Josh Gonzalez
Conner Hoagland
Greg Juhl
Reid Larson
Joe McGillian -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Gary Reckelhoff
Chuck Bickes (Stayed behind)
John Mitchler (Stayed behind)
-Joe Omar (Guide)
-Lawrence Twelfang (Guide)
-Vincent Falig (Guide)
-Inos Germi (Guide)
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, June 2, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Boat
Peak:Agrihan High Point
    Location:Northern Marianas
    Elevation:3204 ft / 976 m

Ascent Trip Report

A full trip report with images will soon be available on SummitPost. What follows is a quick summary.

23 May
Arrive in Saipan and check-in at Himawari Hotel (team hotel). Other team members arrive between 23-25 May.

24 May
Team meets with the governor of CNMI as well as the northern islands municipality mayor. The team signs the MAE (Mayoral Authorization for Entry) and learns about Agrihan and the ongoing efforts to re-populate the island. In the evening we have our team dinner hosted by locals.

25 May
Yesterday and this morning team members sight-see/tour Saipan. We also do last-minute shopping at Joeten (supermarket) and ACE Hardware. In the afternoon we load all the food/water/gear onto the Super Emerald.

26 May - Travel to Agrihan via boat
The Super Emerald - with 12 climbers and 6 local guides - leaves Saipan at 09:00AM. It takes us 24 hours to travel roughly 240 miles north. Fortunately we have bathtub calm waters.

27 May - Establish Base Camp and Find Route through Lower Forest
The Super Emerald arrives at Agrihan around 09:00AM and spends 1.5-2 hours off-loading everyone and everything. Part of the team (Ginge, JoeM, John, Gary) along with some of the locals spend the day route-finding through the lower forest. The rest of the team establishes a Base Camp around the village's old dispensary building. Once established, everyone carries water (gallon jugs) to the end of the trail. Everyone returns to the village at 15:00PM.

28 May - Push route and establish Camp 1 in Swordgrass
Team members and locals leave Base Camp between 06:00-07:00AM with the intent of carrying water and pushing the trail. We reach the end of the forest and transition into thick swordgrass around 11:00AM. While the local cutters advance, the team caches water at the transition and cleans/straightens the well-flagged trail below. The local cutters reach a ridge line around 14:30PM and establish Camp 1 (~1000 ft) around 16:00PM. Most of the climbers will return to Base Camp each night (relieve pressure on water consumption up high) while a couple along with the local cutters will sleep at these higher camps.

29 May - Establish Camp 2 below Difficulty Area D1
The next few days are a repeat performance. The climbers leave Base Camp and haul gear/water to the highest established camp. Local cutters push the route (heavy, tiring machete work) through thick swordgrass with some patches of ferns. When overcast, it isn't "too bad" but when it's sunny it's a hot, humid, miserable time hauling water/gear. By 15:00PM the local cutters establish Camp 2 (~1560 ft) which offers a great view of the first difficulty area (D1).

30 May - Find route through Ravine Complex (D1) and establish Camps 2.5 and 3
The local cutters spend several hours searching for a route through the D1 difficulty area. This involves traversing two drops (25-30 feet and 40-50 feet) where we anchored hand lines for safety. By noon we finally make it through! A rainwater collection site is established at Camp 2.5 (~1600 ft) while the cutters proceed up through ferns to Camp 3 (~1950 ft).

31 May - Establish Camp 4 (High Camp) and Reconn route to Crater Rim
We reach Camp 4 around 11:00AM and establish a large High Camp at ~2520 ft, including another rainwater collection site. The camp overlooks difficulty area D5 which turns out to be nothing. In the afternoon the local cutters proceed and find a route through minor ravines at difficulty area D6. They proceed along a gentle ridge and establish an wind-exposed camp at ~2820 ft. Since it hasn't rained, most team members spend the day bringing water up to Camp 4 in anticipation of residing there a few days as we establish a route to the highpoint.

1 June - Reach Crater Rim and Assemble at High Camp
The entire team leaves Base Camp and arrives at High Camp between 10:30AM-13:00PM. Some climbers (John, Ginge, Reid) stayed last night and go ahead in the morning to work with the cutters to reach the crater rim. The local cutters turn-around short of the crater rim and return to Base Camp. They leave the crater rim and its peaks to the climbers. Using a PeakPal app and two levels, John determines that P960 (Agrihan-East False Summit) is likely NOT the true highpoint. Ginge, Peter, Reid and Gary head off to determine whether a crater rim traverse to P952 (Agrihan-High Point) is possible. By 16:30PM they have established a Class 4 (or Class 3 via ferrata) route to P952.

2 June - Summit Day!
Not an alpine start, the teaam leaves High Camp around 06:45AM and arrives at P960 (Agrihan-East False Summit) shortly before 08:00AM. Heavy clouds lend an eerie feeling to the final Stegosaurus Ridge climb to the peak. The team celebrates on this relatively broad summit even though it is likely not the highpoint. All but two climbers decide to traverse over to P952 (Agrihan-High Point) to summit both peaks "just in case". By 14:00PM most climbers have left the crater rim and descended to Base Camp. At 17:15PM the clouds suddenly lift and Gary is able to confirm that P952 is 5-7 feet higher than P960.

3 June - Verifying P952 is the True Highpoint
Over the next couple of days a few climbers rotate through High Camp including Tony, Connor, Clint and Gary. Tony, Connor and Gary visit P952 on 3 June and spend long hours waiting for the clouds to lift. Around 14:00PM Gary has a brief opening and verifies with a Sokkia B24 survey level that P952 is higher than P960 using a back-sighting technique.

4 June - Base Camp relaxation
The 6 local cutters and most of the team members spend several days at Base Camp. It's time to relax and eat ;) The locals share freshly caught fish, smoked pork and fried bananas. People clean gear, go bouldering, beach comb, swim with the sharks, ...

5 June - Pulling the Route and Cleaning Camps
Peter and Reid climb back to P952 and help Clint and Gary pull the route. We leave an anchor on P952 and at the top of the caving ladder section. We pack up High Camp and haul out all garbage. Some climbers come up from Base Camp and help us clear Camp 2 and Camp 1. By 14:00PM everyone is off the mountain! It's not accident free though with Ginge needing sutures to close a machete wound.

6 June - Waiting for the Boat
The team was hoping for an early arrival of the boat, but the Super Emerald didn't arrive until 17:00PM. We load up everyone and weigh anchor by 18:00PM. We pass Pagan during the night and don't have a chance to visit. With rough seas (10-15 ft swells) several team members have seasickness issues.

7 June - Arrive in Saipan
We start with rough seas but by early-afternoon the seas are calming. Still, we don't arrive in Saipan until 19:00PM. Everyone is excited to be back to civilization and real food.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Class 4
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Rope, Ski Poles, Guide, Porters, Bivouac
Ascent Statistics
    Time:7 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 



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