Ascent of Wahpenayo Peak on 2018-09-15

Climber: Mathias Ricken

Date:Saturday, September 15, 2018
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Wahpenayo Peak
    Elevation:5557 ft / 1693 m

Ascent Trip Report

Went out to scramble Denman Peak, Lane Peak and Wapaneyo, but had to turn around because of the weather worsening before reaching Wapaneyo. Car-to-car 7 hours.
Denman Peak was easy, although I made it harder than I had to. Coming from the Plumber side, I started scrambling up on the east side of the ridge, but on the way down I discovered that the west side had an easy walk-up trail.
After Denman, I continued to Lane Peak. The trail was still good and easy to find, albeit quite slippery with mud (there were a few muddy, slippery places before Denman already). I made my way to the plateau immediately below the summit, and then followed one of the chutes up (the part of the track more to the east). The rock was good, but a few times, I had to make a pretty big step, or pull myself up without great footholds. I think had I been shorter (I'm 6' 2"), I would have been worried about not being able to downclimb this (so be tall or be a better climber than I am).
There is a pretty good tree almost at the top of that chute. After that tree, you're pretty much on the top and just have to climb over a few rock flakes to the left (west) to the summit. I think if I were to climb this again, I'd probably rappel off that tree. Going from above the tree to below the tree might not be super easy either, though, that was one of the places where I pulled myself up, so I'd want to be anchored in when dropping to below the tree, before setting up my rap.
I ended up not going down that way, though. When I was on the summit, looked down and saw what looked like an easier way down, more to the southwest of the summit. It was less steep, with more gradual steps, but also a lot of loose rock on it. I took a risk and went down a way I didn't come up, but I knew if I came to a ledge I couldn't downclimb, I could come back and come down the other way again.
I'm pretty happy with the way down, though there was a lot of weaving back and forth, from one side of the chute to the other and back, wherever it was less steep. I used the butt belay a bunch -- six points of contact. And even then there were a few places where I had awkward hangs with not many holds, where I had to try to find footholds. The loose rock wasn't too much of a problem for me.
Lane was slightly nerve racking, but a lot of fun. Coming down was a little reminiscent of Pinnacle Peak, but overall, I think Lane Peak is harder than Pinnacle.
After having come down from Lane Peak again, I followed to ridgeline to the southwest, heading for Wapenayo. Since I had to cross over the ridge to the west to reach the summit of Wapenayo, I thought I could stay high. I now think that was a mistake. I side-hilled my way over really wet brush, slipping a ton. It was so bad, I was always relieved when I reached a boulder field and got a reprieve from the slick vegetation. At times, I wish I had taken my crampons and ice axe with me.
By the time I got to a big boulder field below the notch I planned to cross, the weather was turning and dark clouds were spilling over Wapenayo. I was pretty tired from all the side-hilling, and to reach the next summit, I'd have to add about another 1.5 miles to my trip. I decided to turn around (which saved me from getting rained on, because it started to rain half an hour after I reached the car).
On the way back, I dropped lower, where it was flatter, and that was definitely the way to go. Occasionally I actually found trail, but even that trail often disappeared. I think if I were to come back for another attempt, I would roughly follow my lower, more southerly track to below the notch, then go almost straight up. But Wapenayo is probably easier to reach from the Longmire side.
Even though I didn't make it to my third peak, it was a great day in the park, with fat marmots, lots of solitude, and some awesome scrambling on Lane Peak.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Part of Trip: Denman-Lane (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Denman Peak2018-09-15 
2Lane Peak2018-09-15 
3(Attempt) Wahpenayo Peak2018-09-15 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Mathias Ricken
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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