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Ascent of Cowlitz Chimneys on 2018-08-10

Climber: Sherrie Trecker

Others in Party:Rob Busack
Date:Friday, August 10, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cowlitz Chimneys
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:7605 ft / 2318 m

Ascent Trip Report

We set out to climb Main Cowlitz Chimney on 8/10/2018, but ended up tagging Banshee and Central Cowlitz as well. We were 14.5 hours car to car. We did not know what to expect on the climb and approach, so we brought ice axes, microspikes, approach shoes, harness, 30m 8mm rope, 3 tricams, and a half set of nuts. The snow on the approach was avoidable, making the axes and microspikes unnecessary.

We tagged Banshee first, because it is essentially on the way to Main Cowlitz. It is a straightforward and is mostly a walk on game trails. We did not even put on helmets. We did start to ascend a minor peak to the NW of Banshee before recognizing our mistake and correcting. The tundra and meadows were just so gorgeous that we had stopped paying attention to bearings and waypoints and just went up. The mistake didn't cost us much more than fantastic views and extra ridge walking.

From Banshee, we set our sights on Main Cowlitz Chimney. The Beckey guide is a lot more descriptive than the 100 Peaks guide, so we used the Beckey description combined with the 100 Peaks KML tracks and had no issues. We got to the belay tree where the 100' of 3rd class exposed scrambling starts and roped up. I placed 1 red tricam on the traverse and quickly found the next belay tree, near the cave, with 2 relatively bomber pieces of webbing and a rap ring. I quickly belayed Rob up, who then ascended the thin awkward chimney thing about 30' and brought me up, placing 2 pieces for good measure. The chimney move was the only move where I thought a rope was nice to have. It is slightly awkward and possibly low 5th class, rather than 4th. The exposed scramble really wasn't difficult. If bringing less experienced people up, I'd probably set it up as a fixed line and have them prussik the traverse so that a pendulum wouldn't occur if they did fall.

We dropped our ropes there and found the easiest way to the summit. We found a piece of tied red webbing on a horn where someone had rappelled and removed it. It was on class 2/3 terrain and we didn't think it was necessary. If it's yours and you want it back for some reason, let us know.

2 short rappels got us back to scramble terrain.

By then, it was 4 PM; we had started at 6:30 AM. We weighed our options: do we summit Central Cowlitz and extend our day even more? Or do we go down and leave it for another day? It looked so close! We decided to drop our packs at the 7000' pass, and just walk to the top with helmets on. It only took about 20 minutes to summit. We had made the right call! We got down to our packs to find a mama and baby goat within 10' of them and felt lucky that the risk we took in not hanging our packs had paid off. From there, we started our long descent back to our cars, stopping periodically for water and photos. We arrived back at the cars at 9 PM.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6205 ft / 1891 m
    Trailhead:1400 ft / 426 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
haze from nearby forest fires obstructed views at times.
Ascent Statistics
    Time:14 Hours 25 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Cowlitz Chimneys (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
3Cowlitz Chimneys2018-08-106205 ft / 1891 m
Total Trip Gain: 6205 ft / 1891 m    Total Trip Loss: 6205 ft / 1891 m



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