Last spring I soloed the North Couloir of Cobb with only an ice axe and crampons. It was fun but committing. This year George and I set out to do a different route on the North Face. We were armed for speed with a big wall rack of 3 wire nuts, 3 slings, and 100 feet on 7 mm rope. What could possibly stop us?
After hiking up the Hyndman valley and getting a good look at the face, we found that our prospective route had melted away. We had mistakenly expected lots of snow on the North Face. NOT! Our route was essentially gone, so we decided to repeat the North Couloir which still appeared to have snow for much of its length. No problem with a belay and a bit of gear. Right?
WRONG! What last June was a 15 ft wide gully of styrofoam snow, was now a five foot wide, 2 inch thick water ice smear. YIKES! George and I made a pact that we would not climb anything that we could not safely downclimb. That became the case midway up the route. Ultimately, I went up on a 100+ feet ribbon of unprotected 50 degree water ice and called it quits. The penalty for falling was just too great.
We retreated, descended into the valley, and then decided heck, its only 2 oclock, we still have time to climb the West Ridge.
And that is what we did. Eventually we made the top on a beautiful day and hiked back to the trailhead before dark. It was a long, interesting day.
Cobb Peak North Face June 28, 2008. Where did all the snow go?
George in North Couloir.
George with our big wall rack.
George on the West Ridge thinking about his life and hard climbs.
Pat and George on the top of Cobb.