Welcome to the Chehalis - June 6/7 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Default Welcome to the Chehalis - June 6/7

Ever since I'd learned about it, the Chehalis had a reputation in my mind of being remote, bushy, rugged and wild. Since first seeing the photos of the peaks in this area, I knew I had to check it out. It was only a matter of time….

After learning that an extended trip into Garibaldi wasn't in the cards for my week off, Lauren and I exchanged a series of text messages:

M: "Adventure time this weekend?"
L: "Sure. What do you have in mind?"
M: "It's the Viennese-Clarke Traverse, in the Chehalis"
L: "Sounds adventurous, I'm keen!"

Not verbatim, but that's more or less how it went down.

So we set off Friday night, our first Chehalis trip. We camped at the truck, not really sleeping much due to the bugs and not having a tent….The night was long. At the first hint of sunrise, I stirred Lauren and we took off for the alpine bowl above Statlu Lake.



We meandered our way up to Statlu Lake and then to Upper Statlu. Many switchbacks made me happy, since our packs were feeling a little heavy.... It’s probably just the rope….

We got to Upper Statlu at around 10am, where we had a snooze on the beach to avoid midday heat. Which was a poor idea, since it was even hotter when we left Upper Statlu at 3pm.

From the lake, we bashed our way to debris flows which would lead us into the alpine. In the cold stream that ran through the debris, the coolest wildlife I saw all weekend were coastal tailed frogs and their tadpoles.

Some scrambling next to a waterfall got us above the impressive headwall above Upper Statlu, and from there some more rambling up slabs led us to a flat spot among boulders, trees, and creeks.

We soon realized that the VC Traverse would likely not be the best idea, given the amount of terrain to cover, the amount of snow on the ridges, and the low likelihood of an overnight refreeze. We decided to climb the E Ridge of Viennese, and traverse across to the Redoubt/Viennese col, and descend from there. We would leave our gear at our bivy, and pick it up on the way down.

Settling in for sleep at 7pm, we quickly realized that sleep would not come to us this night. Too hot to cover up from the bugs, and no breeze to blow them away, the bugs were destroying us. We opted to hike up to the ridge leading to Viennese, bivy there, carrying all our gear up and over.

We clambered up, settling in for one of the best bivies I've had in a long time. Bug free, cool breezes, and impressive views of the ranges around us, Mt Baker, Slesse, and the Cheam Range to the south, along with bits of the Fraser Valley. Nursery Peak and Grainger to the north, and views of the Old Settler, Breakenridge, and a few other spires to the east. The sun quickly set, and we both had a good night of sleep.

We had a leisurely morning at sunup, talking about the pub, and how quickly we'd climb the ridge, descend the far side, and have some delicious burgers at the Sasquatch Inn. 'Twas not to be.

The epic begins.

Our packs were now starting to feel very heavy. We geared up, and packed our belongings and started scrambling up the E Ridge. The exposure increases dramatically the higher you get. It was mostly 3rd/4th class, until the last pitch below the summit. While the climbing was never hard, we were wearing heavy packs, and the climbing was airy enough to give you pause. Exposed climbing brought us to the summit, where we quickly descended to the other side.

We found rap tat, and made a 40m rappel down to a ledge system, and pulled the rope. The knot passed easily enough cracks, but on the pull, got our ropes stuck in a crack. As I pulled, a block the size of a person moved. Spooked, and realizing we didn’t have any alternatives but to pull, we untied one of the ropes, sheltered behind a boulder and yanked the rope hard. Down came the block, and my hopes for an intact rope were low. As we fished in the rope, amazingly enough not only was it not cut, but there wasn’t any substantial damage to it. A bit razzled, we started some exposed 4th class scrambling, our packs starting to slow our progress. More exposed traversing along the ridge brought us to the Viennese/Recourse col. We found more rap tat, and made another 40m rappel down to the snow. We made a few more raps over short cliff bands separated by snow, as the alternatives would be downclimbing snow with moats below. Once clear of all major difficulties, we made it down quickly on low angle, but sloppy snow.

The next part of the descent was getting down from the upper bowl. According to McLane’s guidebook, a flagged, bushy descent close to the waterfall was our best way down. Following cairns, we found our way into the trees near the waterfall. Bushy, yes, but the last part was full on B5 bushwhacking with some 5th class downclimbing! I’m assuming we were offroute here as we didn’t see any flagging. The guidebook is getting a bit dated though, so I’m not too sure. We made it down nevertheless. We made quick work of the descent to Statlu Lake, where the bush seemed thicker than on the way up. Our bare legs were getting slapped and scraped, our bags heavy, and legs tired. The warm air offered no chance of reprieve. Soaked to the bone in sweat and exhausted, we finally made it back to the truck at midnight, where a fresh change of clothes, water, and food were waiting. We were at home by 3.30 after a late night/early morning visit to Timmy’s.

What an epic.

Thick bush, bad bugs, big rugged terrain: Welcome to the Chehalis.


a few more photos:https://flic.kr/s/aHskaaNg1b
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Last edited by trail_blazer3; 06-08-2015 at 04:41 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 04:52 PM
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AWESOME
glad you such a good memorable trip for the first time in there!
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 05:51 PM
Dru
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I'm not sure why you didn't descend your ascent route back to Upper Statlu Lake and on down that way?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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AT - very memorable! Looking forward to the next time I can get up there, hopefully it's not an epic though.

Dru - Many reasons, but mainly it looked reasonable to traverse the summit to the RV col in a reasonable amount of time. In retrospect, we probably had tunnel vision on traversing the summit. You're right though, even McLane says to reverse the route.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 07:23 PM
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I didn't mean so much rap the east ridge, but even from the Viennese/Recourse col you could have trended back east through the upper bowl and then headed back down by the waterfall you scrambled up, which sounds like it was a lot better than your descent route. Of course hindsight is 20/20...
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 08:33 PM
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Unless surviving the bugs makes it extra-special to you (personally, bug bites add nothing to a trip for me), consider one of these.

Many designs and brands, cheap, light, very effective, just be careful that it has enough drape on the bottom. My first was "leaky" at the bottom without enough extra material to settle on rough ground.

Nice trip! That area does makes you work for the reward, doesn't it?
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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Our descent from the ridge could have been better... Not too sure about your description though. Do you mean continue trending east past the waterfall? Our descent was on the west side of it (more or less). We didn't have much to go off besides a promised flagged descent. If we'd had more time, we probably would have found something better.

Hindsight is definitely 20/20. Hopefully it will help next time.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 09:08 PM
Dru
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trail_blazer3 View Post
Not too sure about your description though. Do you mean continue trending east past the waterfall?
I mean that on your way up your route didn't sound very bad "a couple moves of scrambling by the waterfall" but your descent route sounds much worse "B5 bushwacking hell".

Why not take the same descent route from the upper bowl that you used for ascent to the bowl? Just the desire to try for an easier route that turned out not to be, or what?
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexcanuck View Post
Unless surviving the bugs makes it extra-special to you (personally, bug bites add nothing to a trip for me), consider one of these.

Many designs and brands, cheap, light, very effective, just be careful that it has enough drape on the bottom. My first was "leaky" at the bottom without enough extra material to settle on rough ground.

Nice trip! That area does makes you work for the reward, doesn't it?
I was definitely wanting one of these! And I'd agree, the area demands work for any reward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dru View Post
I mean that on your way up your route didn't sound very bad "a couple moves of scrambling by the waterfall" but your descent route sounds much worse "B5 bushwacking hell".

Why not take the same descent route from the upper bowl that you used for ascent to the bowl? Just the desire to try for an easier route that turned out not to be, or what?
We wanted to try for an easier descent given we were both a bit tired, and a rap down our ascent route would have likely ended in a snagged rope.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 11:04 PM
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A gripping adventure on descent.... and some really nice scenic shots.

Thanks for sharing.

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post #11 of (permalink) Old 06-09-2015, 10:36 AM
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I have to say that sounds scary just reading it. Giant boulder blocks coming down, lots of exposure...epic indeed. Glad it turned out well! I really love the waterfall looking pictures.
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