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Ascent of Spectacle Buttes-North Peak on 2018-10-27

Climber: Fred Newman

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, October 27, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Spectacle Buttes-North Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:8080 ft / 2462 m

Ascent Trip Report

Left the top of S Spectacle Butte heading NNW. Encountered a sketchballs section of downclimbing on snow covered slabs, stopping to put on absolutely essential crampons in a very awkward spot. Down to 8000' until I could exit the shit slab section and traverse on safer boulders and talus to northern lobe of peak. From there dropped more or less straight NNW to snowfield, then back up to NNE ridge of N Spectacle Butte. Somewhere between the two peaks it started to snow. When I reached the ridge around 5 (now almost dark) the snow was really blowing. Toiled up the NNE ridge towards summit. Encountered a ~20-30 foot blocky class 4 gully section, sketchy upclimbing on rocks now rapidly accumulating snow. Whiteout at the top after 6.

GPS nav in sideways blinding snow to Ice Lakes, now over 6 inches of snow on the ground, once slipping on slabs and literally falling into the lake. Fortunately less than 12 inches of water where I fell in. Sometime after this point I thought to take my stupid headlamp off my stupid head. This improved my ability to see dramatically. Struggled SW back along the lower lake but now everything looked different covered by almost a foot of snow. Took a the gully S of upper lake back towards Maude-Freezer Col. Above 7200' the wind and snow conditions became quite terrible. Visibility and ability to effectively use GPS on phone (which now was inside a plastic bag) severely compromised, and some disorientation as evidenced by wandering track. Finally made it over col and down a deposition zone gully filled with thigh deep snow. Thankfully out of the wind now. Slogged down to col at ~6800' to access Leroy Basin and miraculously found the trail. So happy about that. Followed the trail down and W of Maude until I lost it in talus fields, then GPS navigated using a track of mine from a couple years prior. Made it to Leroy Basin camp around 11 or 11:30 pm.

Snow had eased a bit, but it had fallen so heavily it coated everything down to the TH. The trail (an absolute delight in dry weather) was a total car wash. Every fir tree dumped wet snow on me as I passed. Countless stretches of slide alder and other willow tortures. The trail, which is kind of a trough in many spots, had become a 2-3 inch deep slushy lake. Progress slowed to a crawl. I didn't feel quite hypothermic, but I was completely wet and too cold to stop moving. I finally reached the car at 4 am, 24 hours after I had left it. I took off everything I was wearing and turned the heat on full blast for 10 minutes. Also since I was afraid of more weather stranding me at the TH I drove down the Chiwawa river road until I didn't see any more snow on the ground before stopping to sleep.

First half of the day was great. Second half not so much. I knew beforehand that there was bad weather coming, I just figured I'd be on easy trail by the time it arrived. In this case I pushed on past the time that I should have turned around. I knew better, but I made these decisions anyway. I was carrying bivy gear, but really didn't want to use it. In retrospect I think it would not have helped because I was so soaked. Let's call it a learning experience.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Part of Trip: Meaty Icy Butts

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Carne Mountain2018-10-27 a 
2Peak 79192018-10-27 b 
3Chilly Peak2018-10-27 c 
4Ice Box2018-10-27 d 
5Spectacle Buttes2018-10-27 e 
6Spectacle Buttes-North Peak2018-10-27 f 



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