Johannesburg Mountain Recon via Cascade Pass / 約翰尼斯堡山偵察

  • Reading time:13 mins read
English English 繁體中文 繁體中文 简体中文 简体中文

Johannesburg Mountain Recon through Cascade Pass, a stone’s throw between Forbidden Peak and Mount Formidable. Despite the mountain’s closeness to the famous Ptarmigan Traverse, it sees a few visitors in any given year.

Johannesburg Mountain Recon in the clouds
Johannesburg Mountain Recon in the clouds

See more trip photos here.

Johannesburg Mountain Recon at a Glance

Access: Cascade Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3480′-6200′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons, rope
GPS Track: available

The Preface

I sent out a list of climbs for partners at the beginning of the season. As usual, no takers until Sue replied and wanted to climb Johannesburg Mountain. She and I had met in 2012 through the Seattle Mountaineers Basic Climbing course.

Since Sue knows more people from leading climbs, I let her pick two more. In the end, it was a team of three, including Andy. I remembered him from peakbagger.com with his impressive climbing resume. So I suggested that he start a blog called “one hike a day.”

Cascade River Valley in the mists
Cascade River Valley in the mists

See more trip photos here.

Cascade Pass Trail

It was my second time to Cascade Pass this season with eerily similar weather to the Fourth of July holiday. But we kept our fingers crossed. While in the forest, a man who had passed us earlier came back with a look of terror. Feeling disoriented, he told us about a bear encounter.

The animal didn’t walk away, but the man backed away and left the scene. We thanked him for the warning before he hurried down the trail. Later, we reached the misty pass in under four miles from the trailhead as another bear roamed the area.

The hasty bear
The hasty bear

See more trip photos here.

Cascade Pass to Mixup Notch

Together, we agreed on Doug’s Direct via Mixup Peak. But the approach was anything but direct. First, we went south to Cache Glacier and then took a sharp turn northwest to Mixup Peak’s north ridge. It was so that we could bypass the headwalls above the pass. Later, we went through steep snow and downward slabs to the access gully.

By now, much of the snow had melted, so the southeast gully was dry. Once we went above the loose rocks, the rest of the route to the 7300′ notch was obvious. Later, we slowly went through steep heather and broken ledges. The terrain eased up below the notch above the rock horn as clouds continued to sock in the area.

Looking south from the notch
Looking south from the notch

See more trip photos here.

Descending the Loose Rock Ribs

On a good day, we’d see Johannesburg Mountain from the notch, but not today. But after a snack break, we slowly made our way down the south side in the creepy mists. But glad to have two other folks around to make it feel less eerie.

Since we couldn’t see the bottom, we looked for safer terrain. Then it began to look better from the talus at 6400′. We tried to look for the buttress extending from The Triplets, but it wasn’t visible in the clouds. I couldn’t have thanked my two partners enough for climbing in the terrible weather together.

No signs of The Triplets buttress
No signs of The Triplets buttress

See more trip photos here.

Johannesburg Mountain Recon by The Triplets

Another thing about this not-so-direct Doug’s Direct route was the elevation gain and loss. After reaching the access notch at 7300′, we dropped to 5800′ t bypass the buttress from The Triplets’ south ridge. So that’s a 1500′ elevation loss we didn’t wish to forgo. Alas, it’s all part of the type 2 game!

Traversing wet heather and blueberry bushes, Sue and I used microspikes. But Andy did the same without them, and never once did I see him slip. As clouds cleared up a bit, we pinpointed the buttress and crossed the broad basin to its bottom. But not before we gobbled up lots of delicious wild blueberries.

Johannesburg Mountain Recon to Johannesburg camp
Johannesburg Mountain Recon to Johannesburg camp

See more trip photos here.

Johannesburg Mountain Recon at Johannesburg Camp

We saw the rest of the way up to the 6200′ camp from the buttress. Despite having no signs of the mountain, we could see the route at least! Climbers refer to the gap between Johannesburg Mountain and Cascade Peak “C-J Col.”. But the USGS map calls it Johannesburg Col.

We made a rising traverse through the talus as I doubted climbing the mountain. But I was ok to leave the next day to explore something else if lousy weather persisted. After reaching camp, we looked for spots to set up our tents. Judging by the nearby scat, a bear had paid a visit. Eek!

Home for the night
Home for the night

See more trip photos here.

A Rainy Night at Camp

During dinner, we discussed plans for the next day. Although we were optimistic about the weather, climbing was likely not to happen. Somehow the forecast from inReach was sunny. But wherever it was gorgeous, it sure wasn’t here! Soon, we went to eat inside our tents as it started to rain in mid-chat.

I enjoyed the sound of the overnight downpour. Meanwhile, I had difficulty falling asleep as I kept thinking about the bear scat by the camp. I wondered if bears would poop in the same place as dogs do. I went outside the tent to find a misty basin at one point.

Johannesburg Mountain Recon in the misty morning
Johannesburg Mountain Recon in the misty morning

See more trip photos here.

Johannesburg Mountain Recon on Day Two

In the morning, Andy made his rounds to our tents and suggested we retreat as the weather never improved. I was happy to leave if the weather worsened as I couldn’t imagine climbing in this climate. But even if we summitted, we wouldn’t have any views!

We packed and started walking at seven on the dot. There was plenty of time to exit the basin and down the other side of the ridge. But we needed to lose 400′ to the buttress and regain the 1500′ elevation loss. Oh, joy! The weather to the north had cleared up on the ridge.

Descending on the rib
Descending on the rib

See more trip photos here.

Outro on Johannesburg Mountain Recon

The access gully looked sketchy in reverse. So I set up a belay by the rock horn and sent Andy and Sue down onto more gentle terrain. Then I downclimbed to meet them by the heather. We avoided the scree through ledges and slabs. Later, we took a break before Cache Glacier and went north on snow.

From the 6200′ bench, it was all downhill. Soon, we crossed the broad gully to the defined trail. Before long, we were back on Cascade Pass and took a break. The 3.7-mile hike down to the trailhead went past quickly through many chats. Afterward, we met up for dinner at Mondo in Marblemount.

Tonight, I slept in the car to hike the next day.

The east view above Cascade Pass
The east view above Cascade Pass

See more trip photos here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: