Ascent of Slesse Mountain on 2014-09-13

Climber: Marlin Thorman

Others in Party:Duncan Ralph
Date:Saturday, September 13, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Slesse Mountain
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:7969 ft / 2428 m

Ascent Trip Report

September 13, 2014 Car to Car in 17 hours
Up at 2:45am and on the trail by 3am. Navigated the creek crossing by headlamp which was easy on a big log. The trail was actually in good condition. It is more of a hikers trail with long switchbacks than a straight up the mountain climbers trail. Duncan did turn up a gully by accident and we went straight up for about 5 minutes before we turned around. Headed back down and easier found the trail again. Glad it was an easy fix and that was the only route finding issue all day! Made good time up to the Memorial plaque and then Propeller carin. Passed a group bivying at the Memorial and then caught up to a group of 4 just after the Propeller carin. They had gone way to high in the dark and were backtracking. We easily found the correct notch and angled down across the slabs to reach it. Finally got to the slabs below what was left of by-pass glacier. The class 3 ramp wasn’t bad except for a couple moves in the middle. Once we hit the buttress we stopped to eat/drink and rack up for the climb. Still left the rope in the bag though. Soloed up through class 3/4 territory and up among the trees and shrubs. Reached steep ground so we broke out the rope and prepared to climb.

See Selected Climbs Vol 1 Slesse topo for a reference on pitch counts. At the top of what is marked as pitch 7 we roped up. I led out on easy 5.7 terrain for most of a rope length. Duncan said to just lead in blocks since I wasn’t placing much gear. The next pitch was fun with a short section of nice 5.8 crack climbing along with some more vegetation and walking. Our 3rd pitch was shorter but ended at the base of the headwall. We decided to save on time we would talk the 1963 variation. There were several teams riding right behind us and even some climbing alongside/through us. A team of 2 Canadians took the traverse just ahead of us. I followed them across the ledges. Where they turned up I kept going for another 100 feet before heading up. We climbed up easy 5.3 to 5.7 terrain for about 500 feet. This was a simul-climbing pitch and included the first 4 pitches of the North Side traverse. After this I gave the lead to Duncan. While we were simul-climbing we passed the Canadians. Several teams were right behind them but seemed to be a little green and going up the headwall variation. Duncan led the next pitch which was an easy 5.5 ramp. His pitch ended back on the buttress and at the top of pitch 13 on the regular route. Our next pitch (pitch 6) was up a super nice 5.8+ lieback flake. I took over the lead, and it was a really fun pitch and ended at a nice bivy ledge. We had passed a party of 2 who were just getting out of their sleeping bags at the top of our pitch 5. From here we simul climbed again. I led out through class 3/4 terrain which finally turned into low 5th. I ended this long pitch at the base of steeper rock at the top of what is marked pitch 17.

The climbing now was up the Upper Buttress and was sustained and steep. I led out on a pitch of 5.8+. I felt there was some loose rock in places. Mainly the rock just felt fragile. I don’t think it was but I climbed a little slower just to be careful. I personally felt this to be the crux pitch of the entire route. The next pitch was 5.7 and a little on the short side. The next pitch was our pitch 10 and was supposed to be the crux of the route at 5.9. It was marked as pitch 21 on the topo map. I found this pitch to be super fun, the best of the climb. The lower section had a few large flakes that didn’t look super good but were easily avoidable. There was an old rusty bolt that I would never clip. The roof was super fun and well protected. The holds were all there and the climbing was super fun. I ran out the pitch for a full rope length above. Duncan came up and wanted to lead some. I turned over the lead to him and he went up for probably half a rope length. I climbed up to him and he had ended in what is marked as an alcove on the map. There was a nice ledge just 20 feet above him passed a couple of bumps but he didn’t go up there. The Canadians passed us during his next lead but ended their pitch below where Duncan was. I took over the leading and climbed one more pitch of 5.8 climbing up the buttress crest to the summit. It was a full rope stretcher but I just wanted to get up to the top. It was beautiful and we spent 30 minutes taking in the view and eating. Most of the climbing had been in the shade and was pretty cool. I wore my Patagonia R1 the whole time and put my down jacket on during a few belays.

The Canadians arrived on top shortly after us. We decided to tag team the descent rappels. After find the “trail” on the south side we scrambled down a few minutes to the first rappel. We set our rope and let them go down to set the next rappel. After those 2 rappels we scrambled down the gully until the top of some chimneys. Then we traversed over across a couple of ribs. Found the next rappel anchors and set up. It was marked as 2 rappels but with 1 rope we got to within 15 feet of the bottom. So we just downclimbed the remainder. From here it was another traverse over a rib to a large gully that we could downclimb. That got us off the upper mountain and brought us to the start of the Crossover Ridge descent. From here we mainly followed the ridge line for awhile up and down until reaching Crossover pass. Then we traversed underneath a huge face and then over a rib and down into a gully. This gully led us down all the way to the treeline where we picked up a nice flagged trail that took us back to Memorial plaque. Once we hit the trail it was an easy 45 minutes out to the cars. Got back just as it got dark! What a day! There were at least 4 other parties of 2 that were well behind us. On our Crossover Ridge descent we could hear them climbing down on the buttress. We even saw a couple of people and none of them were anywhere near the top. I am sure there were some unplanned bivying going on tonight. I am glad for a strong partner and that we were able to complete it all in the light.

Summit Day times
2:45am - Rise and Shine
3:00am - Leave the trailhead
4:00am - Pass the memorial plaque
5:00am - Pass propeller carin
5:30am - Start up bypass ledge
6:15am - Rope up for first pitch
9:15am - Pass large bivy ledge (base of middle buttress)
2:15pm - Summit
2:45pm - Start decent
3:45pm - Veer off main decent to Crossover Ridge
7:15pm - Arrive back to memorial plaque
8:00pm - Arrive back at trailhead
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5969 ft / 1819 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5969 ft / 1819 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.5 mi / 15.3 km
    Grade/Class:Grade V, 5.9
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5969 ft / 1819 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:Northeast Buttress - Bypass
    Start Trailhead:Slesse Memorial Trailhead  2000 ft / 609 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5969 ft / 1819 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8.1 km
    Route:Crossover Descent
    End Trailhead:Slesse Memorial Trailhead  2000 ft / 609 m

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