Sherpa Peak - West Ridge

Who: Dave, Doug, Richard and Kara
When: 6/22-23, 2002

Sherpa peak's West ridge is the left hand skyline.

Doug and I were instructing a class for the boealps intermediate course, and along with our students Richard and Kara, we set out to climb Sherpa's West ridge Saturday morning.

The hike up to longs pass went quickly with the help of snow fingers allowing a direct route up. We crossed over and enjoyed fine foot glissading down the back side as we descended to Ingalls creek. Once we reached the Beverly creek junction, we started up the obvious foot path leading into the meadow. I think this might be the same foot path that comes down off of the Cascadian Couloir on Stuart. Soon we were hiking up the ridge that divides the Cascadian from the basin under Sherpa. Easy going on steep open terrain soon brought us to 5,800 ft. At this point we contoured into the snowy basin under Sherpa. We hopped onto the snow and kicked steps up to the 7,400 foot camp. Not only was camp located on a huge flat stone, but we had fresh running water! It had taken us 6.5 hours to get here (about 4,700 ft. of elevation gain from the car).

Doug, Richard, and Kara at camp.

Getting into camp at the early hour of 3:30, we sat back and watched the clouds swirl around Mt. Rainier and Adams. It was still quite warm out, and we passed the time by playing the frustrating name game "Bottachelli".

The sun sets on Sherpa and its stupendous balanced rock.

We woke up at the early hour of 4 a.m. to start the long day. We headed up a snow finger aiming for the closest notch at the base of the West ridge. It was a bit windy at the notch and quite cold. I put on all my clothes and was still shivering as Kara lead off onto the ridge.

Doug and Richard roping up in the early morning light.

We running belayed up the steep 4th class terrain, weaving around and staying on or left of the crest. We past the first tower on the left, and this lead to a small notch. From here it was easy scrambling across 2nd/3rd class ledges to the base of the SW face.

Kara scrambling up to the base of the SW face.

We looked at the steep wall ahead, looked and the description again, and wondered where the "cave" was. At the end of the ledge system there looked like a nice series of steep flakes and cracks that leads up to a chimney type feature, so Kara lead off with a fixed belay.

Kara pulls through the crux moves at the "cave".

The crux pitch (5.5) had some nice steep climbing with a perfect handcrack to reach a ledge below the chimney. Easy face/chimney climbing leads out to a ledge just below the summit ridge.

Richard tops out on the chimney.

Another short step leads to the ridge crest and a traverse to the true summit. It had taken us 2.5 hours from the base. The summit register was actually placed there by Boealps and the last entry was from friends Loren & Jens in their climb the previous September. Thus, we had made the first 2002 ascent, woohoo!

Richard makes it to the summit. Mt. Stuart looms in the background.

Kara and I hung out on the summit until Richard and Doug joined us. Descent is by rappel, and there are plentiful horns along the route with reasonably good slings. Two single rope rapps brought us down to the base of the crux pitch. From there we scrambled back across the ledges to the notch. We rapped off, but instead of making a sharply right-raversing rappel we went strait down. Once I joined Kara on the ledge, 25 meters down, we decided to lead back up and join Doug and Richard who had now rapped down and found the next station. I lead up fun but mossy pitch of fist cracks and flakes to the sketchy looking rap station. At first glance it appears to be a wad of slings strung around a handfull of small loose rocks. However the main load goes over a big and solid flake. We made a double rope rap all the way back to the notch.

Rapping back down to the notch on the West Ridge.

Descending down to camp and back to the ridge provided spectacular foot glissading. It was almost as good as if I had brought skis! The hike back up to long's pass was, as always, grueling and hot. But, after pounding trail and snow for 3.5 hours from camp, we arrived at the cars.

It seems the starter on the car is slowly losing it's battle, and a push start was required to expedite consumption of grease and milkshakes back in Cle Ellum!

[Return to Home Page]