Monday, August 29, 2005

Mt. Custer

Dave and i did Mt. Custer Saturday via the Herbst Glacier. It's a fun route, probably goes at an alpine iii -5.4. Nothing to difficult but with some fun exposure. We were both surprised at how much smaller the glacier was this year compared to last year but we still needed crampons and an ice axe to get by the one upper section. Most of the rock is pretty decent but the rock on the first two cliff bands was excellent. The first cliff band is a very compact Red Argillite and the second rock band is very compact, excellent quality Black Diorite. Really fun scrambling and climbing. Once on the summit ridge you have to pick your way through the remaining gendarmes over to the summit block. From there you follow the ramp to the climbers left which takes you around to the south side of the summit block. From that south side pick your way carefully up to the summit. The views at the summit are stunning. The last time the summit register was signed was 2002 but the dampness is taking it's toll and it really needs to be replaced. When we descended we cheated and made two 30 m raps off the summit block back to the ramp on the south side. You can downclimb this part but because we had the gear it was a lot quicker to rap than down climb. From there we picked our way back to where we first topped out on the summit ridge. We contemplated trying to follow the ridge back to Forum Peak or descending the way we climbed. We very quickly decided that it was quicker to go down the same way we came up. 5 more intermittent raps and downclimbing had us to where we could scramble the rest of the way out. Total hieght gain is 5800' and about 15 hrs round trip. I would highly recommend this route. It was well worth the effort. Dave will have a trip report and pictures on his website shortly.



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