Wedgemount Lake Mountaineering

The original plan was slogging up Rainier, but the forecast for potential afternoon thunderstorms didn’t appeal to us. Seppel, Kerstin and I ended up spending some time mountaineering at the Wedgemount Lake area.

July 9

The slog up to Wedgemount lake was just like how I remember it, long and unforgiving. At least I didn’t have skis strapped to my backpack this time. Seppel pointed out that if this was Europe, we would be riding a gondola to the top. But then I guess it would be busier than it already is.

Kerstin hiking towards the hut.

Not a fast and light trip.

Lounging around on the nice wooden tent platforms

Things were looking a bit socked in above the Wedgemount glacier. This reminded me of the first time I tried to climb Wedge, and ended up sitting in the hut playing cards instead. The clouds broke occasionally, giving us a good glimpse of the route we hoped to climb tomorrow, the classic northeast arête.

July 10
It rained briefly overnight. We woke up again around 3am, and it was completely clear out. I think secretly we were all hoping that it was still miserable out, and we could sleep in. It was straightforward getting to the Wedge-Weart col.

With the full moon, we didn’t even need headlamps.

Walking on the bare ice.

Around 5:30am the alpenglow painted Wedge red. If only we woke up earlier, then we would be on the arête with the alpenglow. Imagine the photos! Bright red sleepy faces.

Roped up on the Wedgemount glacier.

A bit of scrambling along the rocky ridge and then some snow covered sections took us to the base of the upper arête.

Kerstin and the NE arete of Wedge

There were tracks heading up to here from the icefall route, but the route through the icefall didn’t look that good. I haven’t done it though. We brought along a few pickets, and used them on the exposed face above the arête.

Seppel on the upper arete.

I should bring a 1:250000 map next time, I couldn’t figure out the names of most of the peaks in the Lillooet range.

Mount James Turner. Tim and I had climbed it a few years ago. There were a few nice looking glacial lakes at the bottom of the Shudder and Shatter glacier, I’m guessing those are rarely visited in the summer.

Descending the upper arête took as long as it did to climb up. Quite the exposure up there. The snow was already getting a bit warm at this point, with some minor sluffing on the east face. It was the first time Seppel and Kerstin did something like this, but they had a pretty good time. It was nice to climb something in the Wedgmeount Lake area that wasn’t so obscure.

Scrambling parts of the lower ridge to the Wedge-Weart col

The icefall

Back at the hut, I read a log entry of two climbers either in April or May this year, who were climbing the arête. The leader fell off the upper arête when chunks of a collapsed cornice hit him. His partner managed to jump off the other side to stop his fall. I read about a similar incident in an old VOC journal too, no cornice in that case though, but a slip on ice. We lounged around our tent pad for the rest of the afternoon, and swam in the lake.

Post-climb swimming

Seppel was pretty happy.

As it was Friday there was nobody else on the route. There were two guys who did climb the west ridge via the Wedgemount glacier though. Back at camp we didn’t ask them how it was, but I imagine Matt’s description is probably correct: “a fairly tedious ascent up dry, sun-blasted slopes on a perpetual sliding treadmill.”

July 11
After sleeping in, we headed off to climb Weart, a moderate scramble up the southeast ridge. A little bit tedious hiking up all the talus and scree, but the views were pretty good along the entire route. We thought about continuing on along the ridge towards Mount Cook, but opted to head back down the same way. Looks like a nice exposed scramble.

Hiking up talus slopes

Summit of Weart

Looking back at Wedge

Hiking back to the hut

Basalt dykes

Hiking down the trail was as terrible as I remembered it to be. Definitely Type 3 fun. At least we weren’t carrying skis down though. We stopped in Whistler for food, since we forgot about the party scene that is Whistler on a Saturday night.

Are we there yet?

More photos

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