2015SEP12 Mt Triumph, Memento Mori

Skiing and mountain literature, photos, and innovative media

2015SEP12 Mt Triumph, Memento Mori

Postby E_$ » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:52 am

Rolf and I finally got our stuff together this summer and enjoyed discovering a new line on Mt Triumph. It travels directly up the east face: Memento Mori (aka, “the Tom Thomas Memorial Route”), 8 pitches, 5.9+. Approx. 10 hours on the route. The NE ridge is of course off to the right, and quite a ways left/south is a 1985 route put up by Doorish and Cudkowicz; theirs tops out on the south ridge at perhaps mid-height (?).

Our belays are thinly marked in blue:


A powerful moment en route occurred while climbing by Mr Thomas’s frayed rope hovering above our belay at the top of pitch 4. It’s been nearly 30 years since this kindred spirit passed, yet a stark reminder lingers in this spot. Affecting and sobering, even for crusty, salty types.

The route is characterized by a ton of juggy and often steep 5.8ish climbing, with many passages of 5.9, perhaps harder through the pitch 7 roof. The route primarily travels on surprisingly solid Skagit gneiss, excellent climbing rock by our standards. As with all mountain routes, there’s some loose rock, but many suspicious-looking blocks didn’t react to striking/kicking tests and were quite solid.

The route deserves more traffic than my photos indicate—an off day in that department. The tuffs of vegetation are sparse and easily gardened when (infrequently) necessary. Get on this thing! It offers solid adventure and aesthetic pushing and pulling. Below is an uncharacteristic amount of beta to encourage traffic—suggest you ignore it for maximum enjoyment.

p1 – From the glacier, 4th/low 5th slab leads to the large ledge left of a huge chimney. Possibly 3rd/4th if you want to climb directly under the chimney.

p2 – Begin just left of the crack system leading to the white roof. Climb parallel cracks then commit to leftmost crack up left ramp. 5.8+, 60m

p3 – Climb the left-facing corner, with light rock on right and darker gray rock on left. When it clamps down, move left to a thin crack on the exposed left facet of the corner. Face climb to a semi-hanging belay. 5.9, 55m

Rolf follows p3:


p4 – Continue up and slightly right to a pin belay below the end of the frayed rope hanging from the 1988 accident. The belay was exposed to some minor rockfall but options were limited. 5.8, 40m

Rolf launches p4:


p5 – The changing corners (and changing again) pitch. A piece of work, this long fun pitch moves out over the roof below, immediately exposed, and requires some route-finding attention; I was grateful for our two ropes here. Begin by traversing right and up approx. 15m, making moves over an exposed rib and crack/chimney, then wend your way straight up adjacent corners and ribs, switching and picking the easiest possible way—which will still be steep, airy, and engaging. Belay at the base of the obvious lower-angled chimney/corner system. 5.9, 60m+

p6 – Up the corner and chimney system, skirt to the left of the big roof, find a key belay that affords shelter from potential looseness on the next steep pitch. 5.8, 40m

p7 –Surmount the roofs above, including a little bit of palming/stemming in a corner, to a good ledge. A short pitch but one of my favorite leads in recent memory. 5.9+, 30m

A couple poorly lit pics of Rolf moving up p7:



p8 – Step left to a strenuous boulder move gaining another ledge, then ramble rightward up to a good finish in a brightly scarred but solid corner near the ridge crest. Hit the NE ridge where it backs off to scrambling a couple hundred feet below the summit. 5.9, 45m

While these all had their moments, pitches 5 and 7 exemplify one kind of incredibly engaging climbing that draws me to the mountains. Should’ve taken a pic of Rolf following on pitch 5, but was flat tripping on the quality and quantity of climbing.

And of course, the views of the Pickets were typically inspiring.
More pics here: https://picasaweb.google.com/ewehrly/20 ... directlink

We descended the South ridge for the complete alpine experience. Night befell us while still above the glacier, so we endured—I mean enjoyed—a shiver bivy on an exposed ridge. (Speaking of meditating on death: avoid an overnight cuddle with a skeleton.) While apparently neglected recently, this descent is actually kind of fun, and now is shored up with fresher tat.

Nice moody light show on the next morning’s descent:

Last edited by E_$ on Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
imminent whippage

Re: 2015SEP12 Mt Triumph, Memento Mori

Postby skykilo » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:49 pm

Frayed ropes belonging to ghosts, desiccated pocket glaciers and a cold cuddle-fest. Rich!
User avatar
from Santa Fe

Re: 2015SEP12 Mt Triumph, Memento Mori

Postby E_$ » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:55 pm

thanks bro. felt like a rich trip. in the tr on this site, meant to add a musical accompaniment; a good jarmusch movie and soundtrack:

imminent whippage

Re: 2015SEP12 Mt Triumph, Memento Mori

Postby DonJuanPakistan » Sat Sep 19, 2015 11:22 am

Nice one Eric!
User avatar
Trippin' travellin'.
from Seattle, Washington

Re: 2015SEP12 Mt Triumph, Memento Mori

Postby Alex » Wed Sep 30, 2015 2:01 pm

Holy! I liked the pictures, but like the story more. Nice one.

Return to Trip Reports

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest