Posts Tagged ‘Cascade Falls’

The North Face of Lone Eagle Peak is a classic alpine rock route that had been on my radar for years. It’d probably been on Jim’s for even longer and scheduling worked out for us to attempt it. We scheduled three days as we weren’t sure how long the route would take us and wanted the option to sleep off the climbing before doing the 8 mile backpack back out.

Doug joined us for the hike in on Saturday, but wasn’t planning on attempting the climb.

8 miles from the Monarch Lake Trailhead up Cascade Creek went more quickly than expected on the easily graded trail. We took one short lunch break, but otherwise kept up a conversational pace.

As we neared the junction with the Pawnee Pass trail we finally had a view of Lone Eagle.

We found an open campsite as near the base of Lone Eagle as possible and wondered what to do with the rest of the afternoon, it was only 2pm.

Armed with the route description we scouted out the approach and identified the start of the first pitch.

Killing time turned out to be a non-issue as I wandered around Crater and Mirror Lakes enjoying the scenery.

After dinner the three of us crammed into Jim’s Hex tent for a cold night. Plentiful frost greeted us in the morning as we woke before dawn with a goal of starting our climb at 7am. Doug split off and headed toward Cherokee Peak while Jim and I went right to the start of our climb.

Jim decided to take the first pitch and found a piton part way up that confirmed we were on route.

The next couple of pitches were even easier than the start, and since it was still pretty cold I decided to climb for a while in my approach shoes. Following the first pitch would make that more reasonable than leading it, and I could do some of the easier portions with my gloves on.

Our second “pitch” was a long simul-climb across easy terrain on a broad ledge. A few spots were maybe 4th class or 5.0, but with both of us moving we combined what would have taken 3 traditional pitches and much more time.

Where the ledge system faded out I setup a belay and reeled in Jim for the remainder of the walking. The next pitch was a bit harder was was supposed to end just before a chimney pitch. Jim ended up combining these two pitches into our third.

When he went off belay I mock whined into the radio that he was getting to lead all the good stuff and I was stuck with the hiking pitches. Jim promised me the crux pitch and I decided to keep my approach shoes on while following the chimney pitch.

My next pitch was more hiking and a couple short 5.4 or easier rock walls.

At least I’d been keeping warm and now climbing easily without gloves. Jim led the next pitch, our 5th and similar to my 4th, except that he probably didn’t take the easiest line to finish and hit slightly harder (5.6?) climbing for a couple moves.

We’d reached a large grassy spot with a great view down the other side of Lone Eagle towards Crater and Mirror lakes. Jim also thought he saw Doug on top of Cherokee while belaying me up.

Unfortunately, we were also now on the windy side of the peak. Extra layers came back on as we scouted for the twin cracks that marked the crux pitch of the climb.

Jim settled into a semi-sheltered belay and stacked the rope while I dug out my climbing shoes and slipped them on.

A white sling around a large block had helped ID the start of this pitch and I climbed past it while still wearing my gloves and clipped a stuck tricam.

I needed to bare my hands to continue climbing, but would have to make a move or two then try to warm them up. At a snails pace I crawled up the climb, but at least was really enjoying the climbing itself.

After passing 4 pitons letting me know I was definitely on route and using up most of our light rack I reached the north shoulder of the peak and setup an anchor with the gear that remained on my harness to belay Jim up.

We warmed up by moving to the east, sunnier and lee, side of the peak for the final pitch.

Jim led up a left leaning chimney then over terrain with lots of options. There were some fun moves in here and climbing from 5.4-5.6 depending on the line taken.

A couple feet of our 60 meter rope remained when he hit the summit and belayed me up.

We’d reached the top at 11:30 am and were pretty happy with that pace. After packing away our climbing gear and switching back to boots and shoes we started to figure out the descent route.

Dropping off the knife-edged crest to the east we followed some easy ledges with a few cairns.

We probably didn’t find the best place to begin ascending back to the crest, but it still worked as a scramble and we picked up the normal route again.

The steep sections ended and we were left with a lot of talus and tundra walking back down to the valley.

Once we arrived back at camp and realized it wasn’t even 1:30 pm yet, we packed up and made a forced march hike out. Forced, because the last hour I felt like I’d fall asleep if I stopped.

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