Monday, April 25, 2011

Mount Olympus: Great Chimney Climb and "Ski" Descent

Mission accomplished.  Lars got scared.  Earlier in the week the patriarch of our family of skiers, the Samurai, wanted to climb and ski the Great Chimney on Mount Olympus.  His run of bad luck was extended as we never even found the entrance.  It's a line he's wanted to do all year so I feel bad poaching it without him.  Sorry Jared.  

The Great Chimney as seen from the Neff's trail head on April 24, 2010
For Lars' second and last day in town, we wanted to up the ante from yesterday's adventure on the Pfeiff and this seemed like the perfect outing given the mediocre weather forecast.  Up with the birds at 7:00, we started hiking on dirt around 8:30.  Found snow 15 minutes later and skinned up a debris choked couloir until the Great Chimney came into view.  The lower couloir (below the chimney itself) was icy, runneled, and fairly steep at 45-50+ degrees.  But, the chimney was almost completely filled in with a mix of snow, ice, and snice.  JD and I soloed the short 40 foot pitch and then brought Lars up.  
Looking up the Great Chimney

JD eagerly getting started

Fun, unnecessary stemming
After gaining the upper hanging couloir, we were surprised to see how continuously steep it was.  An initial reading with the inclinometer read 58 degrees on the double fall line.  Hmmmmm.... Just the kind of slope that inspires confidence in icy conditions over an icy chimney.  

We quickly booted up doing our best Ueli Steck impersonations in the firm snow
At the top of the hanging couloir, we were hoping to climb a final bit of rock/ice to gain the summit ridge but were turned back by the polished rock coated with an illusion of ice.

The final slab before the summit ridge
 Now for the scary part...

We put our skis on and timidly debated whether or not we should just go for it.  Repeated slope measurements came in at 57, 58, 61, and 62 degrees, getting steeper near the top.  Realizing that this slope rarely sees the sun and wasn't likely to soften any time soon, we lost some style points by making tentative turns for a rope length belayed off a single knife blade.  

Once off the rope, I side slipped the sustained icy 57-58 degree pitch until able to pull off skier's right and clip into a small tree.  I tried to get the other guys to ride the below pictured spine because I thought the pictures would be nice.  They declined.  

Urban Alpinism at it's finest
 Lars took the easy way and side stepped down to the tree of safety.
Lars, about to become a father for the second time...that he knows about. 
Psyched not to have fallen off the mountain and into someone's yard in Olympus Cove, we rapped 25 meters down the chimney and found that we had a whole new perspective on slope angles.  The lower couloir which had previously seemed steep, now looked comparatively flat.  

JD avoiding the runnel and patches of ice
Escaping from the lower couloir, the snow turned to corn, and then to an isothermic mess, and then to mud.  Grateful to have made it up and down in the best style we were capable of today, we rushed off to give thanks at church and then a scrumptious Easter dinner.

Lars got his fix for awhile but plans to be back next month....


  1. The "easy way down" gives me goosebumps and a B9.5

    -Great Weekend

  2. That's it. You're prodigal and disowned.

  3. But I said I was sorry. If I return penitent to the family will you throw a party and kill the fatted calf? At least you'll be able to find it now.