Steve Eckert, of climber.org fame, recently climbed Granite peak (solo!) and found a variant on the SW Couloir route that works even better as a 3rd-class route to the summit. I'm posting this link to Steve's report with his permission.
I've known Steve remotely for years, as we consulted on my multifarious attempts on my eponymous peak in the Sierra, but we had never met in person. A few years ago when I was trying to solo Borah Peak (and got off-route and cliffed out, oops), I was headed back down the ridge and started talking to a fellow climber who was hiking up as I was headed down. I mentioned that I was from St. Louis and he asked, "you're not Alan Ritter, are you?" Turns out it was Steve...he put St. Louis and my Highpointers Club T-shirt together. So, what are the odds that a couple of guys, one from CA and one from MO, cross paths on the trail up Borah Peak on some random Friday in August??? Small world...
I'll definitely try Steve's variant on the SW Couloir route sometime in the next couple of years...
Thanks for the link! I just returned from climbing Granite this past weekend (it was my 48th!) and looking at his photo it seems we actually went up the "ramp" and not the "colouir". It wasn't too technically difficult, but there is a lot of loose rock here with a serious rockfall hazard. One of my climbing partners dislodged a massive rock that flew right past us into the void below.
The SW couloir does seem to be all the rage these days, with an increasing number of highpointers attempting this approach as a way of avoiding Class 5 terrain. But having just completed a guided ascent of Granite the old way via the FTD plateau approach on July 30 - also my 48th - I have to throw some love to this route. The Class 5 couldn't be easier and the rock is absolutely bomber on the technical part of the route. Not only is the approach superb but the climbing is a complete joy. As someone recently told me, 5.4 is really 5.fun.
I think that counts as a pretty decent July, but you couldn't throw Everest in there too? Congratulations, slacker.
I'm looking to do SW Couloir (or Ramp or whatever). 5.4 for me isn't 5.Fun. It's 5.Fall. I've been on some Class 4 with serious exposure, and i know i have no business climbing on more of that without a lot of assistance. I could go with a guide group, but i figure if i ever do Denali it will be guided, and i long ago promised myself not to pay for more than 2 guided HP climbs. (I already used one for Rainier 10 years ago when i had never been on a real mountain before.) Me and my silly rules.
By the way, if anyone ever plans a late-season (July) climb for Hood, and the conditions turn out to be past prime, consider hiking AROUND the mountain instead. I did that in late July this year, and it's a really fantastic ~3-day trail, with a few serious challenges where the old route is washed out.
Well, I will readily admit that I would have had zero chance on Granite without Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Not because the actual climbing was hard but because the route finding on summit day was way over my head. I resisted the guided thing for a long time but finally gave in and found that I really enjoyed it on all 3 HPs I just completed.
Thanks for the congrats. I missed on Hood on this trip though ... making me 0 for 2 on Oregon's HP. Might try the Cooper Spur approach next time I'm out there.
Yep ... this was brought up on another forum. I'm happy with my climb, which meets local standards of a successful summit of Rainier regardless of whether it does or doesn't meet Club "requirements." There was a big debate on this in this forum in 2004 that both you and I participated in on opposing sides. Not looking to rehash an old argument. Cheers.
I didn't ask in order to bring up an argument, and i don't remember the one from 8 years ago. I just was glad to read the details of the report (you know how i eat up this stuff) but was surprised that you were ok to stop 200' below the top of the mountain. Congrats on Southeast Crater Rim!
Thanks again and sorry for coming out on the defensive. It certainly wasn't the plan to stop at the rim; that's just how the day worked out. The funny part is that Rainier is the only mountain I've ever climbed where I got a summit certificate as well as the only HP where I didn't tag the tippy top. Ah, the irony. Anyway, my climbing isn't anywhere near relevant enough for anyone to care about but I know I'm getting close to being a 48/50 completer so I just wanted to be completely up front about where I was.
Always fun to go back and look at debates of the past.