Afternoon at the Northeast Cascade

Jay takes his turn up the corner.

Jay takes his turn up the corner.

A day after walking out to inspect conditions on Crane, I returned with friends for an brief afternoon run on the only feasible ice left on the mountain: the Northeast Cascade.

It wouldn’t take long, which was a good thing. We started out at 1pm, so our daylight was limited to begin with. The walk takes about fifteen minutes longer than reaching the¬†Waterfall Wall, so it was well after 2pm when we actually began climbing.

Conditions were even worse than yesterday – I’d noticed the Waterfall Wall had a top-to-bottom open cascade as we passed it – but the Northeast Cascade was still barely doable. I soloed up the easy right side, which thankfully had fat (though unbonded) ice most of the way up, with a 4′ wide strip of thick-enough¬†ice right up to vegetation.

Whacking her first ice on the way up Crane's Northeast Cascade

Whacking her first ice on the way up Crane’s Northeast Cascade

After that, it was time to bring up the crew, set a TR, and belay one of our party on her very first-ever ice climb.

To the left, the rope ends had come down, so we three “old-hands” got to take one run each on the steeper stuff. The corner was fat enough and wide enough to stem a bit and relieve some of the strain; the flat face to its left was its usual very tiring vertical, with what felt like slightly overhanging, bulging ice to top out.

Tom on his turn up the Corner of Crane's Northeast Cascade

Tom on his turn up the Corner of Crane’s Northeast Cascade

Darkness chased us off the mountain and out to home. The Big Game was soon to start, so we all dispersed quickly to either watch it or lick our wounds (a nice fat lip in my case, from a big chunk of ice).

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