2015/6/20-21 – Primus + Austera Peaks / 普賴默斯峯+奧斯特拉峯

Klawatti with Glacier Peak

All photos from this trip can be found here.

Inspiration Traverse, the one long traverse I had been putting off until this season, wasn’t exactly something I had been aspired to do in the beginning. For someone who’s still not a huge fan of snow, I knew personally it would be a huge undertaking with lots of self convincing to be remotely motivated. And, if it weren’t for Primus Peak, the thought of crossing five glaciers in a long day definitely wouldn’t have entered my mind.

First time I was on the Ice Cap was climbing Eldorado Peak in 2013. High cloud coverage in the area most of that day, so views too minimal to appreciate the hidden beauty. Luckily this time weather was on our side, albeit a bit warm for a June climb.

Partner Mark and I met by chance on my way to climb The Craggies, and four years later we finally got the chance to climb together on this trip. We made good time from car to the 6,200′ notch where we descended into Roush Creek Basin. Snow started around 6,400 halfway up the slab. Early season skiers and climbers had been through here so we were able to take advantage of their tracks through Eldorado Glacier. It started to get really warm on the glacier.

Got through lower part of Inspiration Glacier without much elevation change. At the nose of Eldorado’s east ridge by the camp, all foot traffic took a left turn and headed uphill to Eldorado. This is where we could see Inspiration Glacier spanning clear across to Klawatti Col. We roped up and followed a set of old foot tracks headed in the same direction.

From Klawatti Col, we headed north and drop partway down onto McAllister Glacier, then a short traverse to Klawatti’s north col. With some mixed climbing, we got through a notch and went onto Klawatti Glacier. Snow was getting slushy, so we stayed roped up getting through this section. As we got closer to Austera Towers, we started making a descent to eastern edge of the towers and crossed over to the north side via a scree slope. A short section of side-traversing on steep snow and we were officially on North Klawatti Glacier.

Good camping at 7,000′ on glacier, up slope from an icefall at 6,800′. After resting and setting up camp, we scoped out the route and identified a couple steep snow ramps in lower part of Primus’ south face and began walking. The climb wasn’t difficult as I had imagined. Stayed on snow in lower section then switched to rocks when talus became more exposed. Couple hundred feet below summit we moved right onto south ridge and scrambled to the top.

Summit was free of snow and clouds and relatively flat. South side of North Klawatti Glacier was going in and out of low clouds. Evening light lit up nearby ranges beautifully; Forbidden-Torment ridge line periodically changed colors with the amount of light piercing through moving clouds. Nice to see other highest 100 peaks in the area too–Snowfield, Jack, Goode, Buckner, just to name a few. Mark started heading back down to camp and I stayed behind a while longer for more photos.

Got back to to camp 40 minutes before sunset. Tomorrow we’ll get to spend longest day of the year climbing Austera Peak, then followed by the long trek out. Starry night for shooting star trails and Milky Say photos.

Next morning we packed up and left after sunrise hoping to beat warm temperatures from turning snow into slush while getting back up Klawatti Glacier. After crossing back to south side of Austera Towers, we stayed paralleled to the towers and climbed up to tapered terrain at 7,800′. Not much snow beyond that point, plus snow on upper east ridge had melted out and worked to our advantage.

Summit was hidden from view on the ridge until we passed a few spires above 8,000′. Mostly stayed on or south of ridge crest, occasionally dropped lower onto scree to get around cliffy area. Only one section to traverse around the north side on exposed class 3 slopes right before the summit gully. Loose gully and we stayed right on more solid rocks. A few 4th class mantle moves in chimney, followed by 15-20 feet class 3 scramble on exposed east face and we were on top.

Another beautiful day on the neighborhood! Loved the cascading Forbidden, Boston, and Sahale. And the daunting Klawatti Peak and Dorado Needle I was still hoping to climb this season were only two glaciers away and seemed so close. Summit was a bit tight for two to sit comfortably, we stayed long enough for photos before heading back down to glacier.

From snow we reversed the route and got back to Klawatti Col for a break. We tried climbing Klawatti Peak as well, but couldn’t find a good place to transition onto rock since moats had already formed. To no avail, an hour of route finding later we turned around and started making our way across Inspiration Glacier then down Eldorado Glacier. Climbed back up to the 6,200′ notch, down through heather and talus, then forest and back to the cars.

What an amazing trip albeit not enough time to savor the views. Probably won’t do another snowy traverse for a while, but we’ll see.

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