Ascent of Eagle Lake Buttress on 2017-11-01

Climber: Jaime McCandless

Others in Party:Jason Curtis
Date:Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Eagle Lake Buttress
    Elevation:8640 ft / 2633 m

Ascent Trip Report

Some friends of ours told us about the Eagle Buttress Traverse - an exposed scramble along the ridge going NW from Eagle Lake - so we decided to give it a try. They described it as exposed easy 5th class scrambling, plus an optional pinnacle climb in the middle of the ridge with a 5.7/5.8 handcrack (for me it was fists at the bottom) and a few bolts of face climbing.

Route description:
- Follow the Eagle Lake trail up to the lake.
- Curve around to the right (North) side of the lake, then ascend the "obvious" gully - a large wide gully going up from the NW corner of the lake
- At the top of the gully, there is a summit off to the left (South), but instead turn to the right (North) and ascend a wide ridge.
- Eventually we reached a bit of a buttress, and scrambled up it to gain the narrow ridge. We put on rock shoes before this scramble and left them on the rest of the time
- We continued on the ridge for a ways. At one point fairly early-on, we went through a head-height tunnel (as our friends described). (See the waypoint I marked on the GPS track)
- From there, we tried to stay on top of the ridge as much as possible. However, sometimes we would run into a sheer drop-off and we'd have to go around to the right or left.
- Right about the middle of the ridge, we found the pinnacle. We'd brought a rope and small rack for just such a purpose. We climbed it, enjoyed the view, then rapped back down and continued scrambling the ridge.
- Eventually we ran out of steam for the ridge scrambling. It was mostly quite enjoyable, but there were some definite exposed, low-5th sections that were draining and it was getting a bit late. The good news was that it was pretty easy to get off the ridge to either side at just about any point. So somewhere around 3/4 or 4/5 of the way, we bailed to the left (South) side of the ridge, and continued with 2nd class hiking to the end of the ridge.
- From here, I believe we could have either reversed our route on the ridge, or just done some cross-country hiking following the ridge back to where we started, but instead we chose to make a larger loop around the two Velma lakes, linking together various trails.

Rack for the pinnacle climb: we brought 2 #2s, a #1, a half set of nuts, 4 alpine draws, 2 quick draws, and a cordalette. This was almost perfect for the climb, as we placed all three cams (one each of #1-3 would have been slightly better), clipped two bolts, and additionally hung a nut off a hangarless pin between the bolts on the face climb. There was a bolted anchor at the top that we rappelled from. We brought our 60m rope since that's all we had, but a 30m would definitely also work.

We wore rock shoes the entire time, and were glad to have them. The climbing wasn't too hard most of the time, but since we were additionally doing a bit of routefinding around steep sections, and since there were a few exposed low-5th moves, we were glad for the extra security. It would be doable in approach shoes as well though.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Low 5th
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Eagle Buttress Traverse
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Jaime McCandless
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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