Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heaven's Peak ordeal

Heading for the saddle, then the top

Moments away from bagging the peak

Achieving a long-sought dream --- topping Heaven's Peak

Coming off the top
This year’s Glacier Mountaineering Society Week celebrated the 25th anniversary of the organization.
I’ve been coming to GMS Week for the past 15 years, developing wonderful friendships and learning new climbs each year.
This year I climbed Heaven’s Peak (elevation: 8,987 feet) on July 15 with climbing partners Mark Hertenstein and Byron Wallis. It was a peak I’ve had on my list of climbs for many years.
We did not do a standard route, but combined elements of the South, North and East approaches, traversing the mountain on a 17 hour day that ended with a couple of hours fighting alder thickets, devil’s club and hawthorns in darkness.
After viewing all routes I’d recommend the East route if you want a direct, relatively short approach.
We found the South route very interesting and challenging. I didn’t particularly like the last 700 feet to the top, which involved a series of steep ledges on the west face of the mountain.
Whatever you do, get an early start for this monster or you’ll have lots of wounds from the alder thickets to show for it.
Views from the top were quite interesting because the large snow fields down the northeast face are breaking up, giving the mountain face an other-worldly look.
We could have saved a lot of time by avoiding the lateral moraine and finding the better dry creek bed to the east running down the Glacier Wall.The North Route, though long (24 miles) would be the easiest approach by far because the north ridge is a simple walk up.

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