Prusik Peak West Ridge 2005


Boeing Alpine Club (Boealps) Intermediate Climbing Course (ICC) Alpine 2 outing – West Ridge of Prusik Peak, 06 August 2005 Instructors: John Gowan, Gary Hehn Student: Anita Schiltz

John, Anita, and I climbed Prusik Peak in one day from the car. We would have liked to have been able to spend a night closer in. But, we decided that getting a permit in the 7:45am lottery was a pretty tough gamble and that if we really wanted to climb Prusik we shouldn’t waste our time waiting at the station for a permit to materialize. We decided to go light and try to accomplish the climb in one day from the car. We did carry enough to get us through a night if necessary — I’m guessing with water and gear we were each carrying between twenty to twenty-five pounds.

Our rough time line:

  • 03:40 – left Stuart Lake trailhead by headlamp
  • 06:00 – Colchuck Lake
  • 08:00 – Asgard Pass
  • 10:00 – Prusik Pass
  • 11:00 – Started climbing
  • 14:00 – Prusik Peak summit
  • 17:00 – Perfection Lake
  • 18:00 – Asgard Pass
  • 19:30 – Colchuck Lake
  • 22:00 – Stuart Lake trailhead – that last 2.5 miles was really long!

In the interest of saving time, given our gripped schedule, we decided that John and I should do the leading. I started by performing one long running belay from the base of the climb to the base of the last half rope length pitch to the summit. This was done utilizing a Ropeman II ascender as an intermediate anchor attached to the fixed piton and an additional wedged chock at the base of the short 5.7 friction slab (flame on!). There was a bit of an issue with rope drag as our two ropes where stretched almost from the base of the climb to the last short pitch to the summit, but we believe that it saved us two precious hours doing it this way.

The base of the last short pitch is the point where Anita was questioning whether she wanted to continue to the summit. She commented on how the exposure was bothering her; the summit block did rear up from our position. We coached/cheer led her a bit and she worked herself through the minor episode. She seemed to have no problem seconding once she decided to continue.

John lead the last pitch to the summit. He continued straight up from the 10′ open book (5.7), ascending a crescentic crack just below the short narrow chimney leading to the summit. The move out of this crack we determined to be the most difficult of the climb! The crack flared open below you, making it hard to get a purchase so one had to pretty much rely on fist jams to pull oneself over and out. The difficultly was supposed to be only 5.3 above the 5.7 open book. Easier moves must have been to the right?

We accomplished the descent using two double rope rappels and one single rap. We agreed that I rappel first on all of them and keep a fireman’s watch on Anita. She had some trouble getting comfortable with the initial rappel which was a bit awkward and steep at the start, but eventually she took the “leap of faith.” The final single rap anchor was a well established set of runners strung around a large boulder and, especially in light of all the tragic incidents involving large blocks failing as rappel anchors recently, I approached it with skepticism. It seemed quite solid, but was situated on a downward sloping joint and didn’t appear to be fused to the rock below. We discussed the looks of it and decided that a thick solid flake just above it was much better. So, we moved the anchor and rapped off that.

Rap up:
Anita is fit and so did very well handling the long day that we experienced. She had some issues with her boots and had to do some taping. The last miles were pretty uncomfortable for her, but her feet were in better shape than expected the next day.

Anita had prepared a good trip itinerary prior to our outing and she actively participated in decision making. Anita is open minded, has a great attitude, and is a good team player. What a great and memorable day she, John, and I had in the Enchantments!

John’s comments:
The decision to go running belay from the start to the base of the summit pyramid most likely saved us from bivying by the trail on the way back to the cars. On the final pitch to the summit of Prusik, going straight up the crack from the 5.7 open book below made the most sense to me. Going over to the right would have resulted in a lot of rope drag.