“The Honey Badgers wander the heathered ridge”
The Triad (7520', p600')
West Ridge/South face approach to East Ridge route,
Aug 25, 2012
Franklin Bradshaw, Carla Schauble, Don Beavon, Tom Sjolseth
Weather: Cool Morning, clear skis, hot afternoon a few mares hair clouds, brisk morning cold wind
Meet the Three Dicks
I’ve known of The Triad, though not having been on my list it was pretty much a mystery. Others (including Carla) had tried it, but how to approach and climb it was a mystery. Research from CAG gave the colorful history of how it got its name (CAG2 p311). Fred’s guide had routes that were a little “beefier” than I hoped. Paul has a report of his trip on CascadeClimbers.com and links on Summitpost (Sergio has his tr of the same trip). The only other beta was from a Skagit Alpine Club group that made their second attempt on the north side. I read that Fay had summited the year before and left a register, but as usual in times of beautiful weather she was out on another great adventure like any dedicated peakbagger. Guess we’d figure it out as we go. Don and I had been planning options for other locations. A distraction from Tom and late afternoon the day before we decided the trip would be The Triad. Maybe not three guys named Dick, but three guys… The Triad. It was after 8:30p while talking to Tom that Carla found that her Chilliwack trip was cancelled. She was very bummed yet seemed happy to join our motely crew. And our luck, since Carla had been most of the way there a few years ago. Now a team of four, if nothing else it’d be a great adventure and fun.
Hi ho, Hi ho to Sibley Pass we go
Enough of the prequel. Alarm rang at 3am –dang that’s early. We hoped a somewhat early start, not knowing how long this trip would take. Easy for me to get up on trip mornings. A vibe of the coming adventure, seeing places from a new view point, and this one even better with minimal beta. ½ hour into Seattle for pickup, then another 45 to the P&R. Still dark and light starting to glow on our drive NE. Cascade River Road was pothole free and freshly chip sealed. The Sibley Creek road though is potholed… We arrived at the trailhead to find about 5 cars and a lone hiker heading out (7:10a).
We prepped and headed out, signing in behind a couple happily heading to the lookout (7:30, c3555’). The trail dips into the brushed woods, zig zagging up open woods, over a series of boardwalks to spit you out into Sibley creek basin. Now in brush across the creek (1.0m, 25min, c4320’) and a mellow ascent up the basin. The brush has had an epic growing year, with flowers, green and a few nettles here and there.
In about 45 minutes Tom caught up with the solo hiker (with external frame pack). The trail stopped the switch-backing and started the southward traverse toward the Hidden Lakes LO.
Tom waiting for us slow pokes
We passed the trail to Sibley Pass on direction from the solo hiker that he knew where the trail was (2.0m, 55min, c5390’). Another 5 minutes it was obvious he didn’t know where to go and we returned to the Sibley Pass climbers trail (obvious tread in gulley after the Hidden Lakes trail starts to traverse south and right before a few tall trees. We followed the trail alongside the remaining snow. This trail was serious about gaining altitude. Near the pass a snowmelt creek provided plenty of water. The morning was cool enough to wear gloves and I was looking forward to a little morning sunshine. We got four things topping off Sibley Pass –bright morning sunshine, stunning views, a chance to catch our breath (taken away by the stunning views) and a brisk very cold east wind (2.6m, 1h5m, c5400’).
Has To Be The Most Stunning Ridge Ever
After a break to take in the views Carla directed us to a northbound trail that went steeply up to the north then east running ridge. From the pass it looked like we’d sidehill traverse.
This ridge was WAY better (2.8m, 9:14a, c6472). Still a cold wind, but the views, OMG!!! I was floored. We tried to keep a pace, but kept stopping to just take in the sight. A sometimes narrow heather ridge with flowers, rock formations and views back to the basin NE of the Sibley creek one we came up, Marble Creek basin, Hidden Lakes area and of course the surrounding mountains. I’ve been accustomed to the Eldorado views from the southeast. Well, the view from the west is “The View”. The trail is well worn and even fresh boot prints upon it.
Just over a half mile of this “torture” brought us to an impasse (3.4m, 9:47, 2h17m, c6680’). What to do now? To our left a sloped snowfield that went east. To our right a drop/downclimb of several hundred feet of rock, small trees and heather to a traverse and a ridge.
Would that ridge be a cliff on the other side or? Paul and Sergio had gone right due to ice. If we went the north snow route could we get back over the ridge to the south to do the scramble route or would we be forced onto the north face 5.8 climb route?
We dropped down to the snow and a test showed the snow perfect. Good thing since we had our now getting dull aluminum crampons. Ready to go, I stepped onto the steep pitch and made a rookie mistake tripping and trying to catch myself. Instant ditch of the ski pole, stomp the foot down, twist the ankle and instant arrest. Dang, time to not be distracted by the view. I watched as my ski pole continued its descent slowly. Luckily, it stopped only 300’ below, so down I went for some penalty elevation. Tom started a high traverse to run into glacier ice and steepness. A lower traverse kept us on snow. In places the snow was thin over the ice. Around the corner some crevasses to add contrast. At some point we needed to head up and over. Now we hit our next wall, or should I say gulley. The gulley cliffed out and would need maybe a thousand foot descent to get around. Above east was an exposed snow crossing to a rib. A study of the map showed possible way down the south side from near point 6804. We headed up, two notches ahead we went for the lower right one. A little steeper to get to the right notch that opened to a nice small upper basin. This would be another cool place to camp (4.2m, 10:47a, 3h17m, c6750).
Off the snow we found then descended carefully in tight formation down a steep loose in places gulley. Some good holds, but easy to dislodge debris.
The gulley dropped into a protected southside basin (c6400’). We dropped to c6550 and traversed loose crap clockwise east to an obvious narrow gulley in the south running ridge.
To the west I recognized the ridge face from Paul’s pictures –glad we didn’t come that way. And in the snow a single boot track going in and out. Up the gulley and onto the south facing ridge, across talus and a short patch of trail that disappeared to a short drop. Now just the regular talus/snow mixed Cascade traverse for over a quarter mile. Once around the last rib of the west peak) we had a view of the rest of our entire upper route (4.7m, 12:00p, c6464’). Simple now just heading up East on easy boot kickable snow.
There was a rock route directly under the saddle between the east and middle peaks. We went to the saddle between the Far East spire and the rock formation of the east peak (5.0m, 12:30p, c7100’).
Lost on the Rock
Up and west, solid rock with boulders, over and up past the east peak. Now what. The ridge was blocked by gendarmes and teeth. Below us looked to be a ledge that lead to a crux wall. I’d eyed that wall from the bottom of the basin and then had thought it was going to be the point to get past. We came to a stop on the ledge at that wall. Due west a dirty way possibly up to the south sloping rib. At the wall and north a slot would go up higher, but all this looked to be more cl5 not the cl3-4 advertised.
Tom went on point and explored up the slot, then around the rib, then up a slab north and west toward that rib. Loose stuff and who knows what would happen after the rib? An occasional shower of rock and a few choice words (maybe from me when a shard hit my belay hand). Finally, Tom decided that that direction was not the route. We eventually went up the north sloping cl4 slab to the ridge for a different view. I went further east and scrambled cl3 to the ridge to join Tom. Luckily I had a print out of Paul’s pictures and recognized the ridge view. I was able to place where it was taken –a guess of 10-20’ west of where I straddled the ridge. We went over Paul’s description and finally figured what they must have done. Carla took a look north behind a small gendarme to see a cl2-3 ledge. Sweet! And past it was a Cl3 (looked cl4 from where we were) slope that had a weakness on the south-side of the upper ridge Gendarme that would get us past this dang wall crux scrambling (instead of climbing into a questionable oblivion. All this poking around for a route took time. It was now 2pm as Don Belayed Tom up the slope and past the Upper Gendarme. At least we were moving again. Tom was gone out of sight and hard to hear. We just hoped this was a go.
Thirty-six minutes later I passed the gendarme as the last one up the rope. Much easier going up than it looks and enjoyable. Around the corner Tom was belaying and the others were already scrambling westward. We could see the summit only 300’ away with a snowbank on the north and cl2-3 rock on the ridge. The getting to it had some exposure and take it easy heather/rock cl3+ scrambling. More due to the potential looseness than anything else. Step, grab, step, step, step… 2:39p, 5.3m, 7520’, 4604 ascent and we were on the summit.
I stood on the nearly same height east bump 15’ from the true summit watching Tom summit and recognized the shape of a Fay Register leaning upright on the narrow peak.
So, for those that have not read Beckey’s guide about the peak name. The first ascenders all had the same name (Dick). With the three summits and all they decided to call it Three Dicks. A little suggestive they changed to The Triad keeping with the three theme (three peaks, three dicks, third name... lol).
Squeezed on the false summit we posed for pictures, then joined Tom on the true summit for more pictures.
What a vantage point! The Pickets looked so close, and the Ptarmigan Traverse and Early Winter Spire, Buckindy area and… All in our face and all recognizable and memorable from many trips. The register was soaking wet and missing a pencil. Fay left it in 2003. A Skagit Alpine group of 2 in 2003 and Paul and Sergio in 2004. That was it. Since no pencil, it is hard to tell if anyone else has summited since 2004. Such a short and rewarding trip, it is hard to believe no summiters in 8 years. But, you never know. Tom scratched our names on page one and we left his pencil. I tried getting some pages to dry in the now warm sun. Only 36 minutes on the summit didn’t give much time for drying. It’d taken longer than expected to hash out the summit route and we hoped to get back to the car before dark (one of the group didn’t bring a headlamp…), so time to get a move on.
Delays and more delays…
At the Upper Gendarme Tome found a rap station that got us down the east ridge slope to a ledge.
A 47m rope made it, a 50 would be better. At the ridge saddle above the slab I rebuilt a rap anchor on the gendarme we went north around going up. The rope was a tad short, but worked with some downclimbing (60m would have reached).
From here I explored direct down from the wall rib. It was possible on cl3-4 with the crux being the first 6’. The crux was relying on loose rocks –no thank you. We went out the known route on the ledge east, up a little spot and down around a dicey cl4 move to ledge and class fun scrambling. Snow to the left on the NE side made fast exit to the Far East saddle (0.3m, 4:22p, c7132’) and a walk then glissade due west down soft snow to the traverse point in the basin (0.7m, c6445’).
J-burg and the rising moon
From here just reversing the route to the south running ridge, through the notch, down the gulley, traverse the south small basin at c6550’ to the ugly gulley.
Heading out was going easy, now in the nice high ridge basin (1.1m, 5:05, c6750), boot stepping down the now soft snow on the west side of the 6804 point, under the glacier ice and back to the heather ridge (1.5m, 5:30p, 2h15 from summit, c6624’).
Now the delays… well, some coming up the loose gulley with everyone needing to stay VERY close. Now with the sun lowering, warming colors, front light on the surrounding peaks, beautiful ridge and sights… Only thing that would have added more a delay would be berries. Nope, no berries. Walk, walk, shutter delay, walk, shutter delay, shutter delay, shutter delay…
Comments, of no more pictures or we won’t get out of here… Got to the point of Carla taking a picture of me taking a picture of Tom taking a picture of Don taking a picture of Johannesburg, grasses and the moon…
With the sun silhouetting the distant last point on the ridge a twisted tree looked like two dinosaurs kissing. I wanted to call that point Dinosaur Love Point. Up close it just looked like a tree. I’d probably have a blast with a Rorschach test.
We took a last series of ridge pictures before descending to Sibley Pass and back down the trail to the Hidden Lake trail.
Sibley Pass trail Hidden Lake trail
The warm temps, low angle light and abundant green and flowers made for a pretty walk out. We passed a few campers heading up for the night.
Light traces through the trees a few switchbacks and a peak at the trailhead register to see over two pages of entries since we left in the morning. Mission accomplished, great hike, clean summit and we made it out while still light out (7:30, 4.3m).
Beautiful weather, jaw dropping scenery –if you haven’t been up there you should. Good adventure and fun scrambling. Thanks Don, Carla and Tom.
Thanks for reading and Happy Trails!
in 5.3m, +4604/-750vert, 7h9m
out 4.3m, -4524/+630vert, 4h25m
tt: 9.6m, +-5250, 12h10m
Gear: 47m rope, slings, brain bucket, crampons, ice ax, camera…
took light rack, but not needed except for the exploring the wrong route
Copyright 2012, FWB, all rights reserved