mountain therapy….. for the most part.

Mount Slesse – Northeast Butt {Bypass Start} – BC. [5.10] 7850′

A dream climb was completed recently.

Many weeks ago, my friend Andrew and I were given a deft blow by the glacier. It laughed me off of it, taunting me as if I could cross the glacier with no crampons or ice axe. Any other partner except Andrew would’ve fumed at my ill preparedness, the saint in Andrew enjoyed the approach and the backtrack calling it another “good day in the mountains.” The pocket was gnarled. The pocket was big. We heard it crash to the valley floor, Kaboom,! Andrew was off like a dart, not wanting to wait to find out what surfing on ice felt like.

As dreamy a mountain Slesse is to me and as captivating as the lore over the years has been, I’vent been able to ever think of attempting this mountain. There are but a handful of reasons, and the biggest isn’t that the glacier guards the approach like a sentry. That too is important, as navigating broken glaciers as such can be harrowing. But the problem is finding a good partner. Here I want to describe what I mean by ‘good.’ I don’t mean 5.12 good, or strong, or extremely fast, or even proficient. TO climb such a magnificent mountain, it is of all importance that yes, the climber must be proficient, but that the climber must also be an extraordinary human, full of good graces and highly affable. It has to be this way. Looking back onto a mountain most often brings about memories of the company prior to the mountain.

As Andrew has now moved South giving up the high peaks of Alaska for the Sandy blocks of Nevada, I call up my buddy Jon Effa and the scheming begins. Having punched off Freeway in Squamish a week prior and having simuled Diedre car to car in an hour flat for fun, we thought we’d be in top ‘go’ position to make it happen. Oh… yah, PLUS THE POCKET GLACIER JUST SLID.

Starting the climbing portion at six in the morning and a giant buttress later on the summit by five, we sat staring at Baker, confused by the quality of climbing. Looking for splitters, we found none, even the perfect finger crack that I tackled ended up not being on the Topo. Long? Yes. Stuart Granite? By no means. Pulling off rocks and seeing them tumble and explode thousands of feet below was as much fun as the climbing. But then after handing the descent beta off to Jon, and letting him lead the rest of the night, we arrived to see our line from crossover pass, and right then, we saw the most beautiful profile of a mountain I have ever set sights on. The grandest, most magnificent line I’ve ever climbed. If climbing for the beauty of a line is the objective, then we succeeded marvelously!!!

The rest of the night spun past, as we raced up crossover pass before the light descended on our day. Jon, lungs fresh from Robson, couldn’t be caught. We missed finding the raps by about 20 minutes. Except… by golly, SOMEONE had spray painted the descent route. Somewhere along the way, I LEFT MY NEW ARCTERYX SHELL UP THERE!!! (Anyone want to climb the route and retrieve my shell for a slight reward? What’s half a jacket worth to you-$200 dollars?) Anyways, Jon led fantastically, as I stumbled around tripping on granite blocks and glissading under a luminous full moon to God knows where. Somehow the man found the flagging and we trundled back our way to the car making it there by 12. We had been 21 hours on the mountain. We did it in a day. My climbing community so small, I was a hero to no one but to myself. Somewhere between six to seven thousand calories, the dream was complete. The Dream is finito.

Hey, and at the end of the day, I even got a ‘good job’ from Beckey as he was the one who pioneered the route!

Ohhhhhhh Canada!!!! – A forester did the trick, but barely. *Scrape * Scrape*

We started to hike @ 4a.m. starting from where we bivied – where crossover pass meets the main trail ~ 100 feet down from memorial ledge.

Buh bye Pocket Glacier, hello years of exfoliation!!!! . More stone than you could shake a stick at!

Jon sucking in glacial melt to fill his already burgeoning cells.

A picture of the remnant pocket glacier. Not only until later did I realize that it was a potentially huge hazard. Started climbing approx 6? 6:30?

Splitter..!!!!!!!!!!! ( sort of ) ( not really )

Jon on the 10 A pitch. It was very very cold on that north side. It was the coldest part of the whole route. It was the first time I procured … “Screaming Barfies,” and it was terrible.

So Jon continued with the block lead on the next sunny pitch and I could be no happier as I thawed out on a warm grassy ledge. The rest of the temps on the route swung from t-shirt to long thermal comfort. Weather couldn’t be better.

I took this picture to depict the last water source on-route. Water-beta. Late sept after the pocket slides, there still is a sliver 100 feet above the giant bivy. 😉

This pitch was weird. You want to traverse and not go up the splitter dihedral. Splitter is relative. Compared to Squamish, which for some strange reason I thought Slesse would be of a similar rock quality. This is not true. Slesse is a granitic chosspile compared to my flawed imagination.

Looking down at the 2500 foot semi-choss buttress. I had immense amounts of fun pulling out huge blocks and seeing them down the mountain, hearing it explode on the slabs below. The things you do when you are the only people in a desolate area, many drainages from civilization. Denizens of Chilliwack being only semi-civil.I think maybe my preconceived notions of Slesse were due to the phenomenal rock quality that has been recounted to by others of Rexford et al across the valley.

Remnants of the pocket glacier below.

Baker Behind

Shuksan Behind

Summit Shot waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!!???!!?!?!?!??!?!?! 5p.m. summit time.Sporadic Trip Beta – Turn Right at Unmistakable Gendarme on Descent.
Secret to successful shots – shoot all pictures @ power hour.This is the OMG look, ” we have so much left of descending to do and so little light “

But it sure was beautiful

Then we turned back and saw Slesse from this angle. It felt like we were in the TRANGO TOWERS!!!!! ( my imagination gone astray again) But it was truly breathtaking, and seeing this line blew my mind. The flat spot on the ridge at about the same level as the mountains is the half way point of the route, where the giant bivy lies.

The descent came with all its trials and tribulations and we returned to the car at 12.00 a.m. concluding one of the longest/best days of my life!

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