Mt. Wickersham Southeast gully/valley to south ridge
Class 2+ with glacier travel
25 Miles - 13h 25m (GPX)
I'd been scheming about this peak for nearly a year - plotting on Google earth, reading through old Scree articles, and bugging Wayne Todd without mercy, yet I still didn't know quite what to expect. The obvious route seemed to be the southeast gully, but I could find little beta on it. No problem! Sometimes it's more exciting to head into the unknown.
|Wickersham hiding behind a cloud|
|Civic lifestyle! It's not quite van lifestyle, but somebody has to live it!|
Heading left onto the moraine turned out to be a much better option, and one that my feet appreciated (walking lots of miles in crampons is brutal). Once on the moraine, I quickly found a trail that the glacier guides put in. This was easy travel for a mile or so until it eventually ran out, leaving me to fend for myself.
The moraine remained good travel for quite a while, sometimes turning crevasse-y but mostly staying flat. Eventually the ice on my right mellowed out, so I figured it was a good time to strap on the crampons and cross to the correct side of the glacier.
Crossing took a while. I never came to a true dead end, but I did backtrack around some wider crevasses, which was time consuming.
At last, I finally got off the glacier, where I managed to put my boot into some deep cement mud in the process. YUCK! It felt like it added 5 pounds. Some vigorous rinsing brought the boot back down to weight, and I vowed to tread more carefully around sickening silty mud. After less than a mile along the edge of the glacier, I came to what I was waiting for - a stream flowing in from the right. I ditched my crampons and ice axe, and went up.
|Close to where I got off the glacier and stepped in heinous mud|
|Looking back down the stream|
|The Wickersham stream. Go up this.|
Going up this stream proved to be very easy. The brush stayed well back and there were never any true shwacking moments. At a clearing, I realized I had arrived at a key feature I'd observed on Google.
Ahead, the terrain got steeper and narrower, turning into more of a gorge. To my right, a scree gully seemed the obvious route around. I went up this, and once at the top, I realized how well the Google Earth scouting paid off! I was on a wide grassy bench, and it was just a matter of easy sidehilling to get back to the (now mellower) stream flow.
|Narrowing of the terrain on the upper left. Go right here in the obvious scree gully|
|Looking back down from the scree gully. Who put a golfing green in down there?!|
|On the grass bench above the scree gully (left), gorge on the right.|
|Beautiful serene views of the glacier|
|Looking down the valley. Grass bench on the left.|
|The next scree field leading to the south ridge and summit (right)|
|Looking up the south ridge.|
|Looking down the south ridge.|
|Upper part of the south ridge. Summit on left.|
|Looking north. Actual summit on the right.|
|Looking southwest from the summit|
|Actual summit block. Not good for taking photos on!|
|Ascent GPX overlaid on Google Earth. Note the glacial difficulties!|
|Well, OK - I actually did take a photo from the summit block ;)|
As I ran down the scree, I couldn't help but gleefully (and badly) sing my new favorite song -
"Now I'm scree,
Scree fallin, now I'm scree fallin."