|2016-09-09||Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-09-10, By: TravelingMatt
Info: From the Elk Creek Trail, the Vestal Creek Trail skirts the far (east) end of the big beaver pond. If you pass a large boulder field you have gone too far up the Elk Creek Trail. Vestal Creek Trail is nasty with many blowdowns, but on the way down I never took my pack off, managing to either crawl under or go over every blowdown. The beginning (west end) of the 11,400' meadow has a very nasty marshy stretch, but I stayed dry by skirting 20-30 feet to the left (north) partly on large boulders. The climber's trail for both Arrow and Vestal starts opposite a small stand of trees towards the far (east) end of the meadow; see pic. The final ascent of the south face begins at a location where the cairned route ends near a narrow gully. The route generally follows along the climber's left (west) side of the gully. There are occasional cairns but any route up works; the object is to get to the gap in the summit's east ridge. Once on the east ridge, a few cairns mark a route but on the last ~50' you're on your own and many options are possible. If descending this gully after doing Wham, stay along the gully just to the right of it, then look for a small cairn some 3-400' below the upper ridge on the far right (west) side of the gully. From this cairn a climber's path should be visible.
|2016-07-03||Route: Wham Ridge
Posted On: 2016-07-05, By: eskermo
Info: Climbed Wham Ridge and descended the standard route from Molas Pass. The approach in was in great condition to the Beaver Ponds. The creek crossing had three logs across it, and this was one of the most scary parts of the whole outing. The climbers trail into the basin is still relatively easy to follow, but there are still a lot of downed trees to duck under or navigate around. Sections that were steeper that were still wet were kind of slick and muddy. I found a nice spot to set up camp a little way past the creek crossing. The hike into the basin was WET. I managed to go calf deep into mud and creeks a couple times, and by the time I reached the climbers cutoff up to Vestal/Arrow I was completely drenched. The willows into the area are very tall and thick and were covered in the night's rain, making it really sloppy in there. The climbers cutoff is pretty obvious. If you want to attempt to keep your feet dry, however, walk another 100 yards or so upstream and cross on a couple logs. The next steep push up the headwall was not much drier. The path I took up was essentially a small creek channel surrounded by more tall, drenched willows. On the way down there was another trail that was much more well defined and dry than the one directly after the bridgeless crossing. From the top of the headwall, it was an easy talus hop over to the base of Wham. I took the direct start and agree with previous comments that this is third, MAYBE easy fourth class, and nothing close to Roach's 5.3? rating. The first half of the route is pretty straightforward. Once the low angle crack ends at the far west edge of Wham, things quickly got more difficult. I tried to follow the western edge of Wham, or as close to it as I felt comfortable. While the climbing was relatively easy, the rock quality was not the bomber quartzite I had read so much about. I think I was likely a bit off route, because I had to test almost every single hold and the rock was still pretty vegetated and loose in certain sections. I met Larry (LAW) and son on the summit, who were above me on Wham the whole time. The descent, while not easy by any stretch of the imagination, was manageable and route finding wasnt quite as difficult as previous reports led me to believe. You want to follow the southeastern gully down quite a way, following cairns the entire way, and eventually trending right while looking for cairns on skiers right. From there, a traverse back west/northwest quickly brings you to the top of the Arrow/Vestal saddle. The top half of the slope below the saddle was mostly dry with a narrow finger of snow. I brought my axe but didn't feel comfortable glissading, so I opted for the dry, loose, scree descent. There were a couple lower angle sections of snow to be crossed down lower, but an axe is probably not necessary anymore. I brought climbing shoes but never needed them. I did, however, bring a second pair of approach shoes and a change of socks that I put on once I made it onto Wham. That was a life saver. A few thoughts: - Approach shoes were perfect for this climb - There was plenty of solid protection in between loose areas if you choose to bring a rope and gear. - This was the upper end of my unroped comfort level. The climbing didnt feel that difficult, but testing every single hold and having to be super cautious with loose rock had me mentally drained. - Traction for the descent at this time is not necessary. An axe could be helpful but also probably not needed at all in another week or so. - Follow the cairns on the descent! I have heard of misleading cairns up higher, but the ones I followed down the gully were pretty straightforward. - In future trips I think it would be easier and more enjoyable to start early and day trip it. The approach and deproach with a heavy pack were brutal.
|2013-09-07||Route: Wham Ridge
Posted On: 2013-09-08, By: ngoodnight
Info: Climbed the Wham yesterday (9/7). Despite hours of rain the night before, the route was in perfect (dry, good friction) condition by 7am. We protected one pitch from just above the two blocks to just above the crux slab (70m rope). I placed one nut (BD #11, I think) at the base of the crux plus 2-3 camalots in the range .5-1. The crux slab felt like 5.2, and you can keep the entire route at 4th class by staying on the ridge until just above the crux. I would expect the route to get some snow/hail over the next few days.
Posted On: 2013-09-02, By: Monster5
Info: Route is in good condition and free of snow/ice (likely to change daily). The trail starts just after the beaver ponds on the CT - follow the pond shore‘s east side south (i.e. skirt the lake left) until a solid trail starts. A bit of downfall to hop over heading into Vestal Basin. The trail split for the upper basin between Vestal and Arrow is fairly obvious at ~11450 near the end of a large meadow. Solid trail winds up the drainage. Entered the Wham via a brief class 3 gully on climber‘s right side of the toe prior to ascending grassy slopes and low angled slab up and eventually to the ridge. No need to contour all the way left around the lake. Crux pitches were solid (single move 5.4, plenty of 4th and 5.easy). We might‘ve traversed left too soon after the crux (~100ft). Not sure what the best option is here - I think ascending a couple hundred feet higher and then traversing left and up. The descent wasn‘t nearly as bad as expected. Cairned trail on the right side of the prominent SE gully and solid trail traversing to the saddle. Plenty of solid options for bypassing scree. The descent from the Arrow/Vestal saddle was a bit annoying but still a scree ski. Rack used: BD .5, 2, nut set, slings, 30 m rope. Mostly short rope style and simul with terrain belays. 30 m was plenty sufficient for the two spicier pitches with ledge belays. Naturally, the gear and protection (if any) views depends on the party‘s ability.