| Bancroft - Fall - East Ridge - Photos
Well – this is a trip report, my first attempt at one anyway. Bancroft east ridge is the only peak I've climbed, that I deem worthy of such a report! My other peaks include Long's in summer, James in winter, Bierdstadt and some other minor peaks. Up until I decided to climb Bancroft via the east ridge, I had been itching for a more technical climb. Needless to say, this climb certainly lived up to my expectations.
Here is my route, about 7 miles round trip.
The climbing gear I brought for this climb was a standard rappel harness, belay device and extra, a few quick draws, a texas prusik, various biners, 7mm accessory cord, 10' and 6' runners, and some chalks.
The climbing gear I used was the rappel seat, the belay device and my rope! The rest of it could've been left at home.
I expected the weather to be cooler, with a chance of high winds. The gear I wore: My winter mountaineering boots (Scarpa Freney's, which are also good for hiking), An underarmor winter underlayer, utility pants, and some wool socks. The gear I brought:
I brought a fleece, a 650fill down jacket, stocking cap, gloves, gaiters, crampons, 3 liters of water, PB&J, trailmix, TP, GPS, Phone, Iodine tablets, Headlamp, Extra batteries and the 9.6mm 50M rope. I think I brought too much gear but I'm a freak when it comes to preparing for something that's been on my mind for a while.
The weather turned out to be perfect the entire day, some gusts up to probably 30 or 40mph, but nothing higher than that. I didn't even need a shell.
So I left my vehicle at 9:15am, summited at 1315. 4 hours to the summit, 3 back to the vehicle. I parked my vehicle on stuart road, and trekked the 2 miles to the base of Bancroft. The trek was easy enough but my boots (which I had only worn once before) were giving me hot spots on my heels. These later turned into blisters, which exploded during my ascent. I had sore heels the rest of the way up, and down.
Once at the base, I started along the east ridge. It's steep enough and with the gear, challenging. I didn't take any long breaks, but short pauses here and there to keep myself hydrated.
I stopped along the way to get a few photos.
The gnarly east ridge
Once at the rappel point, I noticed previous climbers had rigged up a sold anchor. I tested this while still on secure ground, to make sure it would hold. Three runners of probably 4,000lbs tensil strength each satisfied me. I slipped my rope through and down I went.
That was exhilarating. I thought I had passed the crux of the climb, but not so much.
The next part is pretty hairy. You are faced with a 40' rock wall you can attempt, or try and go to the right or the left. I chose the left. I walked around the left of this wall and was still faced with some very technical climbing. I was unroped (probably should have been roped in) and free climbed it all. There were certain points where I wouldn't have been able to make it up if I wouldn't have had boots with a stiff sole.
Some of the climbing was slow going, painful and scary. This section is very technical and if you don't have it down in your gut to commit, you shouldn't try Bancroft. Believe me, I thought about turning around more than once but I couldn't figure out how I was going to downclimb what I just climbed up, and didn't' feel like busting out the rope again!
At one point during a technical section, I placed my left forearm on an unsteady rock to gain about a foot of elevation. This was slow going and I was very exposed. The rock came loose and started to come out of its hold, thankfully I already secured my right hand to another anchor point. Some of the climbing is very loose and has a high propensity for accidents. I would not suggest this route to a beginner.
If you look close, the upper left portion of the photograph closest to the center, you can see the rappel point - designated by two runners strewn around a large rock. I didn't use these runners, but some others just behind that same boulder.
Finally I had passed the crux of the climb and things started to even out a bit. I took this opportunity to pace myself the rest of the way and take in some beautiful views.
The summit reveals itself.
The red arrow in the second photo points to the notch, where I setup rappel.
Once heading back down, I took some photographs of the east ridge I had just come up. It looks gnarly, and is gnarly.
Just to give a perspective, the red arrow points to a vehicle.
A final view
Back at the car, 6 hours 45 minutes and some change, round trip. Bancroft of course didn't leave me unscathed!
Final Note: This was an excellent introduction to more technical climbing. This is a classic mountaineers route and should be respected as such. I plan to do this route again in the winter, but can't imagine what it will be like!