Ascent of Sherpa Peak on 2015-07-11

Climber: Patty Cokus

Others in Party:Noel Howe
Date:Saturday, July 11, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sherpa Peak
    Elevation:8605 ft / 2622 m

Ascent Trip Report

Noel and Mark and I drove out Friday night to car camp and stopped in Cle Elum for dinner at the Cottage Cafe. Stayed at the last camping spot before the TH at De Roux. My first time in a bivy!

Weather I think was forecast around 20-30% rain but no t-storm. Did forecast winds in the 20's with gusts up to 28mph. Luckily that didn't come true.

Started Sat 5:15am from end of the Teanaway River Road for the Esmerelda/Longs Pass/Ingalls Creek approach. Easy to locate the climbers trail in the meadow after the Mt Stuart Cascadian Coulair approach trail. I did end up going more straight up (probably game trail or others like me) and getting us into a bit of a slide alder bushwack. Noel fixed that error by blasting through. Continued up...

On the way back we followed the trail all the way down. Fairly close to the start take a left into some woods (now marked with a stick arrow) to stay on the easy but steep trail. Eventually cross a dry creek and up some dry sandy/scree stuff to a small pass. Traverse around a bit into the boulder field basin below Sherpa. We found a fairly large creek easily even though we had carried up 3 liters of water from Ingalls Creek just in case.

About 10am or so around 6,200 - 6,300 ft we found a suitable flat space for camp, dropped gear and had a snack. Left for the peak about 11am. At this time of course fog came rolling in and obscured our view of the route. Based on Franklin Bradshaw's beta and a GPS track that Noel had we went with the far right gully approach. We also had a paragraph from Sean who had done this in 2012 who seemed to have taken the "main gully" which I assume now means either the far left or middle gully.

We had some 4th class moves that were ok on the up but didn't want to downclimb. Luckily others had similar feelings and in each spot there were slings to be seen which we backed up with new webbing as needed on the way down. Route finding was pretty good, sometimes left sub-gullies and sometimes right. Made a few cairns to help us remember on the way down.

Eventually we got up to what was more of the ridge. On a nice flat sandy ledge we harnessed up. Difficult to see with the fog but we thought here was where we chose to go left or right around the sheer light grey face. Sean's beta had said go until the climbing seems too hard, rope up for a short exposed step around move with a downward sloping slab. Belay in a little cave like thing, then scramble up a short chimney to get to just below the balanced rock.

So we got to what seemed to be that point and I decided to brave it (thanks Noel for the opportunity) and led up a short move and around to some nice ledges. The ledges were pretty flat and large for the most part but definitely dropped off (again, the fog made that difficult to see) so I was glad for the rope. Due to rock quality pro options were limited but I slung a few things and eventually ran out of rope (60m) and got 3 crappy pieces in for an anchor. Mark prusiked over and then we belayed Noel. I hadn't found the easy chimney up (nor a cave like thing) so Noel led out searching... After significant searching and a step around move (thinking perhaps we hadn't done it yet) and some sketchy climbing out of our sight Noel came back and setup an anchor on a little ledge with a tree. We figured our best option was to try going up just to the left of this. Turned out to work and we all rejoiced when Noel yelled down to say he passed a rap anchor and then eventually was up below the balanced rock!

We finally were getting some views now with the fog lifting. With our route finding delay we were running short on time (luckily lots of daylight this time of year). Noel briefly checked out the balanced rock and we all have extreme respect for Sean climbing that thing back when... Then we figured out the short downclimb and traverse to get to the final gully to the summit of Sherpa. With my exposure fear I had to take it slow but it was ok. I'm proof you can push your limits and get a little braver. Noel scrambled up the final gully (not hard but exposed) and upon reaching the slung rock at the top threw the rope down and belayed me up first. He suggested I stay on belay and traverse over to the true summit. Two gaps to cross and some slab stuff and I made it. I wasn't worried about going's always the down that is harder. It wasn't pretty but I was back over to Noel and we belayed Mark up. I took photos and signed us all in. Noel finally revealed it was his birthday and we all celebrated briefly.

6pm and time to get down. We added two carabiners to the slings since we didn't see any rap rings on our side. Had trouble pulling the rope from the summit. Noel self-belayed up (nice to share a cool trick, and useful) and saw that the rope was just twisted around itself and not stuck in a crack. He still shoved some black webbing in a crack just in case and then we were able to pull it no problem. Now 6:30pm and a long way to go down we figured there was a good chance we would be doing some in the dark. We figured we would go with the route we came up and were familiar with then, no exploring other gullies to see if they were easier.

5 rappels later (including summit rap) with the last in the dark lit by headlamp, we then proceeded down the boulder field to our 'camp'. We all had bivys so no tents to look for. Unfortunately the gps batteries died and we only knew we were within 200 feet... Eventually with a little searching we found our camp at 10:30pm...long day. Miso soup never tasted so good.... plus the Black Velvet to cheers Noel and our summit. So nice to get out with good fun friends.

Woke up to loud rockfall in the night...goats? Luckily Mark had heard it too so it wasn't just me being paranoid. Slept in, had two cups of coffee, a bit more Black Velvet and out we hiked out Sunday morning. Early dinner at Cottage Cafe (steak again for me!). What a great weekend.

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