Rugged East Ridge June 19-20
After an unsuccessful trip to Rugged two weeks ago, I decided to come back for a return trip with Casey, Laurel and Vanessa for redemption. After meeting near the N20 spur the evening of the 18th, we camped at the start of the spur to make for an early start the following morning.
Day 1 - Trip to Nathans Col
In the morning we all piled in Casey’s SUV. The road conditions of the spur were pretty rough and required high clearance 4x4 with some piling of rocks in a couple spots to get through the first 100 meters.
The trip before, I received some info from Kris Mutafov of a potential route up the north side of the ridge which we visually confirmed during our last trip. As it was foggy and lightly raining, we opted to try to drive around the other side of the ridge and see if we could find a more efficient way up. We passed the usual trailhead and drove another couple KM to the north side of the ridge gaining some much welcome elevation. After moving a few obstacles on the road, we came to a few large downed trees where we parked. Our chosen route up was very quick and much less steep than the standard bushwhack up from the south side of the ridge. We highly recommend this way for anyone look to cut some time off their approach.
Despite a couple navigational challenges, we quickly made the ridge and arrived up to Nathan’s Col around lunch. We levelled out a large snow platform for all our tents and spent the afternoon bouldering and waiting for some nice weather to arrive! By late evening we were lucky enough to get a peek at the summit and as we hoped. The fog and clouds disappeared early morning. Casey and I got up from our tents around 3:00 AM for some photography fun and then went back to bed for another couple hours.
Day 2 – Summit Day and Home
We set our alarms for 5:00 and were off to the start of the climb by 5:30. Conditions were great, and we arrived at the large mote below the east ridge in about 15 minutes. Once there we decided to rope up in two teams and climb up in two pitches using snow pickets for protection. The snow was pretty soft however we felt it was stable and safe for travel.
Above the mote we reached the chockstone notch where I belayed up our team. After a tricky and steep 15 feet of mixed snow and rock climbing, we made our way above the notch to the crest of the east ridge. From here, Laurel belayed Casey from the opposite side of the ridge crest and Casey climbed the steeper and more exposed first half of the ridge placing a few snow pickets as he went. At the top he built a solid snow anchor and belayed up the rest of the team.
We decided to solo the last remaining 10 meters up to Schiena D’Asino (Donkey’s Back). Once reaching the pinnacle we scrambled up some third/fourth class ledges to another comfortable ridge. A slightly steep and exposed 5m snowy traverse put us on some lower angle snow which we comfortably followed up to the summit scramble.
At the base of the scramble Casey and I climbed some mixed fourth and fifth class rock where Casey set up a belay station. Casey then brought up the rest of the team. We arrived at the summit at almost exactly three hours from leaving the tent. As this was my Final IQ9 Casey had decided to bring up a full apple crumble pie which we all enjoyed while taking some much-deserved summit selfies! When reading the summit registry we realized we were the first team to summit in 2021 and the last team up was in September of 2020.
After spending a good 1.5 hours on the summit we rappelled off back to the upper ridge and made our way back down to the Donkey’s Back. From below the Donkey’s back we rappelled down off two snow anchors setting some additional pickets to protect Casey for his down climb. Below the notch we rappelled down to just above the mote where we traversed carefully to a safe position. From here we glissaded back to our tents! The round trip took just shy of six hours.
After drying all our gear for a couple hours in the sun, we packed up and headed back down. Laurel impressively descended the entire snow field below Nathan’s Col in about 15 seconds and Casey attempted a high-speed boot ski which ended in a hilariously epic wipeout. After another 30 minutes of traveling down the ridge Vanessa had an unfortunate slip which resulted in a pretty big fall. Luckily, she was okay to make the rest of the trip out however she ended up putting a tensor on her knee. We took it easy on the way out and made it back to the vehicles at around 5:00 PM.
Casey completed his fourth IQ9, Laurel completed his fifth IQ9 and Vanessa got her first one!