An Epic Day on Ingalls Peak

Ingalls Peak - Goat!

Mountain goat on the trail to Ingalls Peak. Photos taken June 2010. Larger version here.

Climbing Ingalls Peak via the South ridge was a long day.  Some statistics: hours awake – 23, trailhead and back – 16 hours, sandwiches eaten – 4, yawns – 14, snow steps kicked – #@!$ bunch. 

Before going any further I also need to apologize to my belayer, Mike.  For some reason, perhaps lack of sleep or focusing on leading the route I could not remember his name the entire day.  I’m normally bad with names but this time it was ridiculous.  Throughout the day I think I called him Andrew, Alfonse, The Fonz, Hey You, Stephanie,and Reba. 

I got to bed at midnight and set the alarm for 3a,stumbled out of the house and met my carpool at 4a, and then rode for two hours to arrive at the trailhead, embarking on the trail by 6:30a.  The dirt road to the trailhead was extremely rutted and had gigantic potholes, making the inside of the car seem like we were in the spin cycle of The Washing Machine From Hell. 

Ingalls Peak - Goats!
Larger version here.

After a short while we encountered patches of snow on the trail which quickly changed to all snow.  We were joined by several mountain goats who got quite close and ascended the exposed rock above the trail.  The approach required kicking steps nearly the entire way.  We got off course by ascending a steep snow gully about 150 yards up only to find out that we had found the start of the east route instead of the intended south ridge.  We down-climbed and made it to the base of the route by 11a.

Ingalls Peak - starting the route
Megan climbing the first pitch while Mike looks on. Larger version here.

The rock on Ingalls was different than most other rock in the Cascades.  It had varying levels of smoothness to the point of being slippery.  Even though our route was fairly easy, I double-checked all my foot placements before committing to anything.  A group of three scrambled up the route and cut in front of us, slowing our progress.  One of their climbers was extremely slow and should have stuck to the kiddie wall at the climbing gym.  For a long time I considered throwing the pack he’d left at the base down the steep snow slopes.

Ingalls Peak - view east

Summit view to the east. Larger version here.

The climb was four pitches to the top, following a wide crack that eventually tapers out at the end of the third pitch.  Protection up to 2.5”-3” is good to have, especially on the lower pitches.  This was the first time I used my large hex, the one that makes me feel like a Swiss cow when it clanks on my rack. 

Ingalls Peak - view west

Summit view to the west.  Larger version here.

The views at the summit were spectacular, although it was cool and blustery with gusts at least 20 mph.  We waited for the party of three to rappel off before beginning our descent. 

Ingalls Peak - steve at the top

Yours truly enjoying the summit.

Due to the traffic on the route, we didn’t get to the base until 7:30p. We got back to the trailhead around 10:30p, wearing headlamps the final hour.  After exiting the cratered road, I finally made it home around 1:30a Saturday morning and collapsed on the bed.  In the morning I had the worst bed-head ever.  I called it a reverse mullet: party in the front, business in the back.

Climbing The Tooth

The Tooth
Photo taken June 2010. Larger version here.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to be a rope lead on The Tooth, one of the signature rock climbs in the Snoqualmie Pass area.  It was the first outdoor rock climb I ever went on; although it”s an easy climb I remember getting wigged out by exposure and clomping around in rigid mountain boots, scraping the rock looking for a purchase as if I had hoofs for feet.

Scott led the trip, while Duncan, Vance, and I joined as rope leads for Jon, Robin, Nate and Errin. It was a great group of people to climb with. Although we didn”t know each other well, by the end of the day we were having a lively discussion about some recent incident about a cop arresting some naked person.

We had a bluebird day and climbing it the second time up I was much more confident. The gigantic handholds reminded me of the children”s wall at the climbing gym with big, colorful handholds shaped like elephants and donkeys. 

Unfortunately I left my camera at the base of the climb, but I was able to get this pic of my belayer,Jon,on his way down.  It was his first rock climb and it brought back fun memories of my first time out.