Monday, February 3, 2014

Rogan's Gully (Groundhog Day) Trip Report

We got up at 5am to meet Liam at the Cascade Falls parking lot for 7. It was -19 when we got there... By the time we had finished faffing at the cars, the sky was beginning to brighten and headlamps were not necessary for the rest of the day.
Gearing up in the dark
Feeling a bit dazed after getting up so early. It was REALLY cold!
After crossing the airstrip, we immediately came to a junction in the trail (right at the avalanche sign). We decided to go right towards cascade falls and then follow a much less used track that headed in the approximate direction of Rogan's Gully. This turned out to be a mistake. After a long trudge up the hill (very steep), we broke the treeline way above the gully. We could see footprints down below in the gully but had no good way to get there. We found out that we had walked up the descent trail that you can take if you don't want to rap back down the climb. Instead of backtracking and hiking up again, we just set up an anchor off a tree and did a 2-rope rappel into the gully.
Rappelling down into the gully
Liam took the first lead, which was a few short ice pitches separated by snowy ramps that were easy to walk up. There was lots of rock and not too much ice which made it a bit exciting! We found out later that this was not actually the first pitch of the 7 pitch route. We had rappelled into the middle of the climb and actually started on the 5th pitch. There was a belay station at the top of this pitch.
Kyle seconding the "first" pitch
I was up next to lead, but all I did was walk up a snow ramp to the bottom of what I recognized to be the final pitch from other trip reports. Kyle got to lead this one.
Belay station at the "third" (last) pitch with Kyle leading above
We were a bit disappointed about having missed a bunch of the climb. We had lunch and took some photos before rappelling down.
Topping out at the top of the last pitch
Views from the top, standing in between the 2 different finishing options
Lunch at the top (cascade mountain above)
Rappelling off the top of the route
Another look at the last pitch from below
Well, it turns out that pitch 3 and 4 were easy walking that didn't even require being roped up. Maybe it wasn't so bad that we skipped those ones!
Walking/down climbing the actual 3rd pitch
The first two pitches were actually ice. The 1st was low angle and easy to solo, but the 2nd pitch was actually really interesting. Liam lead this pitch on the left and then set up a top rope for Kyle and I to climb it up the middle. The ice was awesome and it was a really fun climb!
The real pitch 2
Getting an extra pitch in to finish off the day
 By the end of the top-roping, we were pretty tired. We walked down the gully and after a bit of bushwhacking, ended up at the trail that we should have taken in the morning! Now we know... We were back at the cars around 4:30, just in time to drive back home with all the traffic from the ski hills. Despite the cold, I had a great day and learned a bunch more about how to ice climb better!