| Mt. Bancroft - East Ridge - Ice Trip
My brother and I climbed the East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft on Saturday, April 17. I had climbed the ridge a few summers ago, but a winter ascent sounded like fun.
We left the car at the trailhead in Alice at 8:30 am.
Snowshoes were a necessity for probably 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile just before Loch Lomond. We left our snowshoes at the Loch and headed toward the ridge, being careful to avoid any slopes with avalanche potential. In general, the route seemed to nicely avoid much avalanche danger.
Getting on the ridge itself posed a bit of routefinding challenge, but it didn't take long. The hiking here was pleasant, except where deeper snow proved annoying.
Once on the ridge, the snow was in good shape for climbing - just solid enough to get placement, but not too hard.
The snowed or sleeted almost all day.
The rappel was in good shape and we broke out the rope. Several slings were on the rock, but we still added our own, just to be sure.
The rappel wasn't too bad, but the rock on the other side was looking scary.
The rain the previous week had produced icy conditions throughout the route. Every hold was covered by a layer of slushy ice. After considering the 5.3-5.4ish moves out of the gap, I opted for a route to the right which may have been just as tough, but felt less exposed than the usual direct route. The whole pitch was probably only 40-50 feet.
After the first pitch, we gazed at the route ahead and it looked impossible. There was a short snow ridge that seemed to end in impossible cliffs. We decided to take a look anyway.
We ended up using the rope for two more slippery, exciting pitches right on the ridge crest. Thankfully, both pitches had good placements for cams and nuts.
After the technical pitches, the ridge alternated between exposed but fairly easy scrambling and narrow snow ridges:
Once in awhile, we'd get a short break of easier ground.
We came to a portion of the ridge that looked easier to bypass on the left. There was a nice snow gully that provided good access to the higher section of ridge. It was only after climbing to the top and looking back on Nolan did I realize how big the cliff appeared below.
There were more scrambly / icy sections, but they didn't seem to require a rope.
Finally, toward the top, the difficulty relented.
We reached what we thought was the summit, only to find that was still had about 200 feet of elevation to go.
The gauge clocked the wind at 50 mph on the top. It might have gusted higher at a few points. It was great to have a few bits of clear sky near the summit. We reached the summit around 4:00 pm. That ridge is long!
We went down the southeast ridge, which was very fast by comparison. Some of it was bare boulders, mixed with some was nicely packed snow for glissading.
An overview shot of the ridge, including the rappel spot.
Returning to Loch Lomond, one great snow.
We reached the car around 7:30, making it an 11 hour day. Whew! Great trip, Nolan!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):