13 milesish/5K'ish gain
Class 5 (low fifth minimum, up to 5.5ish mostly ridge proper) Pictures follow text below
Just a quick late addition to the archives, mainly for beta
Abe, Boggy, and I took advantage of a fine day to head to the Gore. It started off well as Abe forgot pants and was forced to wear Boggy's sweatpants. The Pitkin trail is dry down low and decently packed up higher - makes for quick cruisin' along an abnormally gentle Gore trail. A lucky year with no snowshoes required in December.
Time was passed discussing various mountaineering capabilities of Justice League super heroes. I think we decided on Wonder Woman and Robin possessing the best climbing traits, though Robin would be a bit of a show off with questionable preferences for the rear of the group. The others would magically find "holds" while levitating up the mountain (Superman). Storm would be an awesome partner too due to the whole weather thing and quite possibly looks. Wolverine's claws aren't at an ideal angle for ice climbing. Batman would sport Arc Teryx, Patagonia, and state of the art gear. On the plus side, if he fell off a cliff and dashed himself to pieces, a quick situps/pushups montage would have him perfectly healed and climbing pretty quickly. The Hulk would be a destructive bastard and Flash would find himself pushed over a cliff. And so forth.
We branched off at E Partner's south ridge and made our way up the slope, taking advantage of numerous scrambling opportunities. One headwall near the summit had a few interesting cracks to explore. Morning conditions were cold and cloudy with some fresh snow and hoar frost for spice. We continued on to W Partner as the sun made a timely appearance.
One rap was required near E Partner's summit, but the morning sketchiness had mostly melted off by the time we got to the crux towers. The bypass side (left/south) and ridge proper were mostly dry while the other, north side had unsupportive snow. Or at least supportive enough to catch my insulated bottle holder on a tantalizingly close, yet unreachable ledge just beneath the knife edge chimney thing. Oddly enough, I had an unusual shortness of breath heading up W Partner, despite camping above the same elevation last week. Might've been from trying to keep up with General Boggs and the Turkish Terror. Views were magnificent.
On the way down W Partner, we dropped low on the west side of the south ridge in order to bypass a few sections that were interesting climbing up. We then pieced together snow, tundra, and a bit of posthole slog to Pitkin Lake. We spread out and risked crossing the lake rather than deal with leg breakers along the margin - we heard a disconcerting sound coming from beneath us as we were crossing so we spread out a bit more and wound through the solid looking spots. A nice track took us back to the vehicles a couple hours later. Now back to pretend writing a thesis...
E Partner's S Ridge can be kept at class 3. Leaving the trail at the logical clearing before it winds its way behind a headwall towards Pitkin Lake, follow gullies or rock ribs to the ridge proper (class 2 minimum). Scramble along the ridgeline directly or using right/east side bypasses. The obvious headwall after a notch near the summit can be climbed directly (5.easy) or bypassed right (3/4?).
The first half of the Partners traverse (E>W) was class 3/4 along the ridge with a few brief, logical bypasses, mostly on the right/North. We used one rappel - might be able to bypass it to the N when dry.
The second half was low fifth. We did not use any raps, but others used them heavily in this section. We stuck mostly to the ridge or used obvious bypasses. One tricky section stands out and we almost used a rap. Instead, we downclimbed a dihedral on left prior to the drop (easier than it looks) before reascending briefly and squeezing through a narrow crack on the left side of a big boulder tower. I believe the squeeze is visible in jbchalk's report. One other canyoneering-esque downclimb through a larger crack sticks out - some may want a belay here.
W Partner's final ridge goes at class 4, utilizing a few left/W side bypasses. We descended the grassy saddle with Outpost Peak (class 2) before making our way left through the talus field and drainage down to the lake.
Full pics are in the last third of here (sorry, will get to the captions later):
Brief look at W Partner
South ridge of E Partner
South Ridge headwall
Starting the traverse
Rappel near E Partner
Canyoneering downclimb (Boggy)
A look back towards E Partner - drying nicely (Boggy)
A few stiff moves on the W Partner side of the saddle
W Partner Summit
Nice looking peak Q
Over towards Ripsaw
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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