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Ascent of Cowlitz Chimneys on 2018-07-25

Climber: John Dunlap

Date:Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cowlitz Chimneys
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:7605 ft / 2318 m

Ascent Trip Report

Julie Myer has an excellent trip report so I'll just add our observations. The traverse is much shorter and much easier than I expected. It is basically one minor climbing move, but it is exposed. I placed a single #2 stopper. Once past this move the belay tree is directly above. With a belay at the tree, any follower is effectively protected. The 15' chimney is essentially one move, to get over the chock-stone. Its very low 5th class. I'm not sure how a leader could be protected, but its easy to belay others from above. Directly above chimney is a narrow path through evergreens that is filled with loose rock. Branches, however, make effective hand-holds to climb. Ascent to ridge is all loose scree, but - as Julie says - there is a low rock ridge that is the easiest route. From the ridge you cannot see the summit. This can be confusing. What appears to be the summit is actually a "curtain wall" of a lower ridge. The ascent gully is substantially to the left. We simply followed the well established climbers trails to the gully. The lower section of the gully is more exposed than I expected - 4th class. We did a 30m rappel to get down this section quickly. Anchors are marginal but we found a good one. We found no issue on "exit gullies." I'm not even sure what others are referring to as the path to the summit was obvious and very easy. For the final descent from the top of the chimney, a 60m rope will just barely make the bottom of the cliffs (bypassing both the chimney and the traverse.) It is much better to take the rappel path towards the traverse rather than doing straight down. Straight down leaves you about 15 feet above safe ground on loose gravel/rock. A big snow moat below made this unsafe for us. Better route is directly down from belay tree. I strongly agree with Julie that this route is better for ascending than taking the traverse. We did not climb all of it, but it is low 5th class, short, easy to protect, probably faster than rigging a traverse. To get to the base of this climb, head for the "Lone Fir" but traverse left under the short cliffs under the fir. The climbing route is then obvious heading straight to the end of the traverse belay tree.
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