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Old 03-17-2012, 08:03 PM   #1
mudrat
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Gothics East Face (Rainbow Slide): March 15, 2012

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PICTURES

Gothics’ Rainbow Slide/East Face has always intrigued me with its multi-tiered ledges dressed in various colors, expansive pitches especially steep and exposed at the top. The dramatic overhanging ledges at the top add considerable interest as well. ‘Nangaparbat’ mentioned a desire to climb it in combination with the South Face that we did last Saturday. Conditions usually dictate a given hike and that that desire didn’t come to pass. It wouldn’t release its hold on my imagination, however, so I emailed him Monday and we set March 15th as a target date for the ‘Rainbow’. It would likely be the last day that remotely resembled winter conditions based on the forecast which called for rain on the 16th a weekend in the 70’s.


Nangaparbat and I left the car at about 7:40 a.m. on the Lake Road…familiar territory. It was almost 40F when we started. The road was hard-packed ice interrupted by bare ground on occasion. Bare-booting became problematic at about a mile or so in. My back had been in spasm off and on all week and the slipping sideways on the ice didn’t help. Frustrated, I put on my crampons since I’d left the microspikes at home. Walking a long distance in the crampons wasn’t much more comfortable, but better than twisting without warning. Thereafter, we made good time to the lake and continued a steady pace in snowshoes to the summit of Pyramid.

The South Face was almost free of snow, a dramatic contrast to five days prior…as was the Rainbow Slide. It was impacted with snow and ice, now there was much more stone showing and the forest was dressed in green and brown now white. We stood on an overlook while descending toward the Gothics/Pyramid col and picked a couple decent lines of ascent. Once at the col, I saw the remnants of our tracks going off trail to the west. Just opposite, we plunged into the open spruce. The previously supportive under-crust wasn’t as supportive this day. We occasionally plunged to the waist, but not often enough to get tired. Our route of descent was a small slide just to the left of the large cliff face on Pyramid’s northeastern flank. The slope increased and we enjoyed a 30 minute exploration entailing a combination of walking and sliding.

Exiting on to the lowest pitch of the Rainbow Slide, we descended to the debris field. NP walked down as took pictures. After seeing it was a safe slope of wet crusty snow, I opted to butt-slide in lieu of using my legs…call me lazy. Afterward, we dropped packs and had a snack while surveying the expansive snow covered slab. NP, uttered, “Wow” over and again. I agreed. It was an impressive sight, roughly 600 feet long and almost 300 feet wide. It was obvious that we didn’t need crampons right away; even the snowshoes broke through the crust to the underlying slab. After some food, we climbed back up and entered a narrow track through the woods…the southernmost drainage area of the upper slope. Neil and I took this same path back in the summer so I knew what to expect.

The area choked into a narrow corridor through the pines. The ascent got more arduous as we broke through the snow and slid backwards on the softening snow. We reached the first steep ascent at about 3,950 feet in elevation. A ledge and nearly vertical walls to the south were buried under snow and ice. Months ago, I circumvented this via the woods, but the snowpack allowed us to walk up the slope with the aid of axes. Nearby, I heard ice fall somewhere to the north as the face shed it’s rotting winter coat. Above, the grade got steeper and I kicked steps in, finally reaching the top of the slope gasping for breath and looking for a place to change into crampons. We’d climbed almost half the slide in snowshoes…not what I’d planned.


We changed into crampons along the southwestern edge of the largest section of open anorthosite. This sits a bit above 4000 feet in elevation and is almost 800 feet wide. It’s steep face was mostly free of ice, a contrast to only five days earlier. The beautiful rock I love so much tempted me, but I didn’t have rock shoes and more importantly didn’t want to get hit with any falling ice sheets. A skirt of fresh ice debris lay at at its base, evidence of very recent activity and possibly some of what I’d heard only moments earlier. Table sized chunks of ice lay at my feet as well. My eyes followed their trail far up the face to where they once perched looking over the mountains to the east.

Above us lay the steep face of the upper slide with its imposing overhanging ledges. I couldn’t get near these over the summer, but our route this day would lead us along the snowfield under the bulk of the largest ledge. I anticipated dramatic pictures of the dominant stonework. We climbed slowly and deliberately in the ever increasing heat. Now and again we noticed a fracture line in the face of snow. It was currently stable and the line was relatively old, melted from the recent heat and consolidated by the night’s temps just below freezing. I knew the underlying slab to be fairly grown in with lichen, some small spruce and small islands of soil/moss. This surely helped to hold the snow in place better than open smooth anorthosite just below and to the north.



We traversed underneath the first exposed slab, its wet moss was finally free of ice. A glance upward seemingly threatened to push me off the mountain. The slope increased with each successive ledge until the dramatic overhang. Every so often we’d stop for pictures to enjoy the unfolding landscape. A fracture in the snow delineated the edge of one of the ledges. I realized this a bit too late when I fell through. I was only buried to my waist, but my shin hit the rounded edge of the anorthosite and slid alongside the surface to the underlying stone at its base. Only about six inches of snow covered the ledge upon which I was trying to climb. The crampons bit into the ice once on the ledge and I worked across and up.

We continued up an toward Armstrong until we switch-backed left around a knob of rock. This steep ramp of over 40 degrees led to a the crux of the climb, a ramp that climbed almost due north at about 4,400 feet in elevation. The wide expanse of the entire slide spread southeast below us. We could even trace our footsteps on the initial slab far below. The ramp was exposed and an unarrested fall would not be a good. NP climbed it first and made himself comfortable near one of the overhanging ledges. He warned me about the state poor state of the ice. It was, however, the only way to connect the lower ramp with the upper just under the summit crown.

He told me to, “Traverse it delicately…” I took his advice to heart, now wanting to go on a toboggan ride down the mountain at this point. His meaning hit home when I hit it with axe the first time. My first hit was too delicate and didn’t bite well. The second strike penetrated with a thud that resonated under my feet. The darn the thing was hollow, delaminated in part, though connected enough to support my weight…or so I hoped. I mentally prepared myself for a slip weighing my options such as the position of the spruce below and how I might work the axe if the plate let go. Gingerly, I kicked the front points of the crampons into the ice and shifted some weight to it. It seemed to hold well. A few more similar moves and the short section was beside me. I was safely back in the granular snow contemplating the southwestern view.



An overhanging tier of lichen covered stone hung over my head. Southwest, Pyramid sat like a sentinel. The majority of Gothics’ eastern face was below us. I knew winter was behind us as well. Small chunks of ice and snow continued to flake away. Soon there would be little left. We chattered, overtaken with the trill of the climb and the exposure of the upper sections. Our route worked out well. As NP pointed out, we’d climbed three things this winter, firsts for both of us: the southern Avalanche Slide, Gothics’ South face and now Gothics’ East Face. As a bonus and only four days before, he’d climbed Gothics’ North Face for the fourth time, if my memory serves.

Five minutes’ later found us relaxing on the trail just below the summit. Once at the top, the comfortable weather allowed us to sit and change gear under warm conditions. Two people came from the south just after we took off our packs. Emilie Drinkwater was one. She reported the North Face was free of ice. A few minutes later we departed company, they down True North as we down the Beaver Meadow Trail for the second time in a week. Conditions on the trail were annoying to say the least as I post-holed with snowshoes. Sliding down the steeper sections accelerated our descent, but left us quite wet. In between we did what came naturally and talked out our next set of goals for the mountains…always looking ahead but basking in the day we’d enjoyed. Once on the the road, we found it in a bad state of melt. Alternating sections of mud and granular ice led us back to the trailhead at about 6:40 p.m.


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Old 03-17-2012, 08:13 PM   #2
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Very Cool!! More great stuff
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Old 03-17-2012, 08:23 PM   #3
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Great pics as usual

Another adventure as the winters closes down,great story again.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:55 PM   #4
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Great report and pictures. It almost makes me want to try an ascent from that side...on bare, dry rock.
I'm glad you didn't end up as a chair-sized (and shaped) chunk next to one of those table sized chunks.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:54 PM   #5
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Joy to read your reports. You can feel your excitement.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:57 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone! It was nice to grab that last winter slab even though it was so warm. Looking forward to rock under my shoes again soon!
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:38 PM   #7
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Wow, Wow, Wow, this is how I felt at the base of this mountain face. I did not foresee, how the first third of the face would be a very smooth, low angle slab, .... quite wide too.

A sense of tranquility, peacefulness submerge me as we were at the foot of the Rainbow face of Gothics.

Previously, Mudrat contact me to go climb this before the end of Winter, Good idea, we both had a most memorable day.

I would characterized this side of Gothics as a face were the bottom third is vast, fairly remote and tranquil. This is followed by the middle tier comprise of couloir in the devasted original forest, that one must climb to get establish at the base of the upper third of the Rainbow face.

The last third, in my opinion is absolutly great, the architecture of this portion of mountain with its huge overlap/overhang yield a sense of magnitude to the would be climber.

One of the pleasure of climbing is to find your own way amongst nature obstacle.

Regarding this aspect we had the opportunity to find a very logical route, that leads toward the summit ridge.

We were lucky, that the snow was soft and NOT falling down on us. In much colder temperature, the route we took through the upper part of the face, would be a more serious proposal.

The sun was with us on this last part of the climb and create a superb almost incredible "winter" day.

I was glad Mudrat and I made it together.

Next winter, we should goback, perhaps earlier in the season, with hope that this time, we will be able to find a more direct way to the summit.

Thanks again Mudrat, it was another great day with you.

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Old 03-20-2012, 05:58 PM   #8
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Did I just read a trip report or an art/architecture review? Nicely spoken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nangaparbat View Post
...
A sense of tranquility, peacefulness submerge me as we were at the foot of the Rainbow face of Gothics.

I would characterized this side of Gothics as a face were the bottom third is vast, fairly remote and tranquil. This is followed by the middle tier comprise of couloir in the devasted original forest, that one must climb to get establish at the base of the upper third of the Rainbow face.

The last third, in my opinion is absolutly great, the architecture of this portion of mountain with its huge overlap/overhang yield a sense of magnitude to the would be climber.

One of the pleasure of climbing is to find your own way amongst nature obstacle.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:59 PM   #9
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Nice hike...
Troll much?
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Did I just read a trip report or an art/architecture review? Nicely spoken.
Thanks for your review, BTW the name of the mountain says its all

GOTHICS


as in Gothics cathedral, truly these man made Cathedral are truly outstanding work of humanity, although the people who work on them, well they give their life for the purpose.

Do a search on Notre-Dame-de-Paris or Amiens Cathedral, or the Strasbourg Cathedral. I have nothing to add.

Perhaps Gothics is, in my opinion the truly supreme mountain of the high peaks.
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Perhaps Gothics is, in my opinion the truly supreme mountain of the high peaks.
...and my home away from home lately!
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Nice hike...
Perhaps not as idiot, he would like us to believe.....
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