| Bancroft East Ridge w/traverse to Parry Peak
Mountaineering has provided many different functions for me since I first started it several years ago. Sometimes it has just fulfilled my desire to complete something very physically challenging, other times it has been recreational, and most recently it has been a companion to nudge my focus away from the psychological grinding of fear, and cultivate my passion to be outdoors. There is something very therapeutic about being in the mountains for me; but actually just being outside is really really great. The mountains are something a little extra special that really help me gain perspective. This outing was one in which was purposed in all of the above.
I awoke early (about 3am) to meet my longtime friend James (Jameseroni). I love him like a brother, and we have been through so much. Rendezvous was 0345 sharp at the dino lot - As a former Marine, James is very punctual (which I appreciate), even at dark thirty. I on the other hand, was about 10 minutes late As we drove, excitement was brewing like dark-roasted coffee awakening us as we discussed our approach to the climb. We also played a couple of our favorite tunes: Electric feel by MGMT, and double rainbow songified by the Gregory Bros. The latter was my unelected soundtrack, and stuck in my head for the entire climb. If you don't know double rainbow youtube it!
James driving us up to Alice.
We arrived at the trail head a little earlier than expected. Donned, our gear, and lined up for the token trail head shot:
I was excited to try out a few new pieces of gear I got, one being a buff. For those of you that don't know what this is, it is basically a thin nylon tube that you can wear many ways. Its basically as functional as duct tape:
We set out at 0530. We hummed up the road quickly with a few gear adjustments. After getting things right, we encountered our first obstacle. We chose (wrongly) to attempt to gain the ridge a little too early. What looked to be a little shrubbery with direct access up, turned into a bushwhacking nightmare, and we also reinforced our model that its always harder than it looks. Ultimately we cut through a couple of trees that ended up turning into an impassible fortress of scrub, willow, and pine. James exercising patience as we retreat back to the road:
After making our way back to the road with soaking pants and shoes, we correctly navigated our way onto the genesis of the ridge via a snow slope:
Gaining the ridge, we crossed treeline, and realized the transformation of sub-alpine to alpine environ. This is where we decided trade the tinking of trekking poles for talus hopping. It sounds silly, but when walking with trekking poles, I picture myself as praying mantis-like insect.
Once on the ridge, we encountered some class 3 and 4 scrambling. The crux is later on the ridge where you descend into a notch and climb back out. There are numerous routes into and out of the notch, but James and I decided to rap down, and climb up the classified 5.2 wall. The rap:
James led the pitch out of the notch, placing a few pieces of protection while standing on a ledge:
After the notch, there are several class 4 areas whose ledges are dotted with wildflowers. It amazes me that such beautiful flowers can exist up in the alpine! When climbing upwards, I would reach a little ledge and be greeted by another gem whose beauty provided hospitality to my presence in a very hostile and unforgiving place. I snapped a quick picture of this one while ascending:
We paused several times to enjoy the airiness of Bancroft's east ridge. The views were stunning, and allowed us to enjoy the "Freedom of the hills".
After eating some pb&h, we continued up the remainder of the ridge. I began surveying the weather and notices some thin clouds looming. James and I had talked about traversing over to Parry peak on the drive up. It was about 9am, and I was a little angry that the weather might deteriorate and force us down before we could gain Parry peak. After some discussion about the weather we acquiesced that it might be best to head down. We soon mounted Bancroft, took a few summit photos:
After gaining the summit of Bancroft, we predicted the time it would take to traverse over to Parry and back. We decided we could probably make it, but if the clouds continued to form we would turn around. We both declared, "I want Parry", and we took it. We stripped gear, and scampered over to bag Parry like two angry honey badgers. 18 minutes later, we were on top of Parry, and it was a good feeling that we had made our original goal. We quickly turned around and went back to grab our packs to begin our decent down the gentle south slope. The trip down was pretty vanilla; talus, and more talus. We did observe some cool views of the east ridge. We could also see people across the valley speckled on the tundra of James peak. About halfway down our slope, large cumulonimbus clouds formed rapidly. By the time we reached the treeline, the clouds were darkening to the west and we were both glad that we were not still high on the mountain.
On the walk down, The pain associated with the pounding of each step is reflected nicely in my face.
All in all this was a great outing! My first alpine rap, and trad pitch. We ended our day with what is becoming a ritual feet soaking in a nearby icy stream. James and I both agree that it has to be good for your feet!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):