Shoshoni & Apache
ft and 13,441 ft
class 5.6, ~13 miles, ~4000 ft, September 2007
(Jared, Jen, Brian Hynek, and Rebecca Cardennis)
Here For A Larger Version Of The Above Panorama
For detailed beta on the individual towers click look at Mountainproject's Description or Bill Wright's (the
guy who named the towers) fantastic trip report. The table below is
taken from Bill Wright's trip report and gives his ratings for the
individual towers. Given the multitude of ways to the tops of some of
them your mileage may vary.
If you need to
bail it looked possible to do so at the low point in the picture below
(right where you pass the bishop). Also, once you are past the bishop
if weather is threatening there is a very obvious ledge system down low
that is almost entirely 2nd class talus. The picture
below shows the line of least resistance past the Bishop in red and the
line we took in yellow. The yellow line required a good bit of
extra 4th and 5th class scrambling and would be a bad choice if storms
PHOTO COURTESY OF FORREST THORNILEY
MY TRIP REPORT
After a lousy few weeks of weather
and injuries keeping me from climbing the routes I wanted to it looked
like Labor Day weekend was going to turn out well. I had
originally been planning on hiking up Mt. Wilson but the lack of pet
sitters and the thought of another long drive to the San Juans made the
idea less attractive. I want to finish my last two peaks with San
Luis and it looks like the weather will turn soon. Since I want a
beautiful day with beaver damns, flowers, and wildlife to mark the end
of my 14er quest I figured I'd skip any more until next summer.
I tend to
troll through the alpine route pages over at Mountainproject
from time to time to see what new and interesting things are out there.
One thing that I noticed was called 'The Kasparov Travers' which
is really the ridge running between Shoshoni and Apache Peaks which is
punctuated by several interesting towers dubbed 'The Chessman' by Gerry
Roach.. The ridge and all the towers on it was named by Bill
Wright and Mark Overson who were the first (public) guys to cross the
ridge and climb all the towers on the route. I had been thinking
about doing the traverse for some time and was finally prompted by a
trip report from Forrest Thorniley
to go give it a try. My first attempt was with Jen on
August 25th and failed because of the winds. Being somewhat thick
headed I decided to try again the following weekend. As it turned
out my friend Brian Hynek and his girlfriend Rebecca also wanted to do
it so our outing turned into a foursome. We all met up aright
outside of the Brainard Lake Recreation area fee station at 4:45 in the
morning of September 2nd 2007 and headed to the Long Lake Trailhead.
The plan was to ignore most of the towers but aim for the one called
the Bishop's Scepter which was the second hardest one on the route.
The hardest one goes at 5.11 and was past our ability. We
figured that a group of four trying to climb a bunch of 4th and low
fifth class towers would take us too long and put us in danger of
storms but we did add the goal of trying to stay as close to the
ridge crest as possible to maximize the scrambling fun.
The hike up to Pawnee pass was very casual and easy as usual.
Whoever made that trail has a clear affinity for switchbacks
because you almost don't notice gaining a couple thousand vertical
feet. We cut off the trail right before the pass to avoid having
to scramble over a hump on the divide and crossed annoying talus until
we reached the divide right before Shoshoni's summit. Since I am
also somewhat of a peak bagger and these two peaks represented the last
in the area for me to climb I wanted to head over to the summit.
We all made the brief detour and were happy we did.
Shoshoni's summit was a very neat little chimney like structure
with great views of the Isabelle and Navajo snowfields.
After a brief bit of time on the summit we headed over to the start of
the traverse. I noticed Jen was getting pretty grumpy but she
tends to do this when faced with long days. Her mood always
brightens as the sun gets higher so I ignored it (actually it was
a bit funny to see how grumpy she looked and I couldn't help but laughing a bit) and we kept going.
The start of the ridge let us know that we would be scrambling for the
whole thing. We had to do a tricky little downclimb into a notch
immediately and then this was followed up by a 4th class traverse up
and over a minor bump. We all made pretty decent time to the low
point on the ridge. Brian and I would scout out different routes
until we found a good one then point the way for the girls. The
climbing stayed primarily 3rd and 4th class with the occasional fifth
class move until we reached an easy stretch which lead to the low point
of the traverse. Brian and I had been tooling around with the
idea of trying some of the towers but the far off weather let us know
we had limited time. At the low point I snapped a bunch of
pictures and headed over to the Scepter while Brian freed the Bishop.
The moves over to the Scepter (at least the way we went) required
a short but delicate bit of 5.4 traversing over about 20 feet
We arrived at the scepter and hung out while Brian down climbed the
Bishop. Apparently this was sketchy for him so I'm glad I didn't
do it because the thought of down climbing 5.5 is not appealing to me.
At first I had been planning to lead the Scepter but when I saw
the thing I changed my mind. The whole tower looks like some
giants played Jenga with rocks and as far as I could tell it would take
a whole lot less protection than I would be comfortable with.
Brian popped onto the front end and lead the tower quickly.
He then rappelled back down and Rebecca and I took turns top
roping it. As it turns out we used exactly two cams and two
slings. My twelve cam, 20 nut, 10 sling rack was not needed but
at least it got to go for a long walk. Jen wasn't very happy with
being on the ridge because of a semi-phobia she has about weather and
wanted to keep moving so declined to climb it.
From the Scepter we all headed back up to the ridge proper. We
passed the rook on the left and tried to stay as near to the top of the
route as possible but came to several dead ends that forced us to make
excursions to lower portions of the traverse. The scrambling was
fantastic and we were treated to a ton 3rd, 4th, and 5.0 class.
We continued on and stayed on narrow ledges close to the top of
the King's Pawn and the King. The trickiest move of the traverse
required a sort of smearing/mantle move to get around an exposed
corner, it was definitely a 5.4-5.5 move but after it was over a
series of narrow ledges, some blocks, a very wide ledge, and finally
talus lead to the end of the ridge. This final portion of the
traverse, the part from the King's Pawn to the end of the King was the
coolest part of the trip. It was exposed, required a good bit of
routefinding, and had great views of the whole route back to Shoshoni.
I've posted a bunch of pictures of Jen coming across this stretch
to show how big the thing was.
By the time we were done with the ridge the weather was starting to
deteriorate. It was storming over Longs peak and clouds were building
to the south. Brian and I both figured we had about an hour before the
storms really were a problem and we turned out to be dead on. We
all ran up the final class two (but very cool) ridge up to Apache's
summit. We hung out for a bit and admired all of the views on the west
of the divide but Jen was pretty insistent that we go. She didn't
believe us that the repeated lightning strikes and thunderclaps over
Longs would not make their way to us.
The hike down was pretty straightforward. Forrest had warned me
via email a few days ago that descending the couloir was terrible and
to find another route. The route we picked was the East Ledges route
and was mostly scree and talus and grass which followed a clear path to
the base of the Navajo Snowfield. There was a bit of scrambling down
wet slabs but all in all it was a painless descent. The really
annoying part was the final descent to the upper lake and I managed to
break a Leki pole on the way down (thank god I bought it at R
We took a few minutes to relax and filter water and grab a bite at the
upper lake but it was getting cold and starting to drizzle. The
path from the upper lake is quite easy and we were moving at a relaxed
pace until we entered the marshes. At this point it began to rain
and Brian and I took off (a move which irritated the girls) and
practically sprinted down to treeline. Lake Isabelle was so dry
that we cut a good bit of the return hike off by walking across its
banks. Once Brian and I were at the trees we hunkered down under
some evergreens and waited for the girls to show up. It was
beautiful but wet, cold, and miserable. When the girls caught up we all
headed down the final part of the trail and took several excursions
into the trees to look for edible mushrooms.
We got back to the truck around 5:45 which made for a 12.5 hour day.
All of us were pretty tired and headed home. Brian and
Rebecca had the luxury of a hot tub at Brian's house while Jen and I
had to settle for showers, Advil, and beer.
I feel like the curse of not getting up technical stuff might have
lifted and have tentative plans for five more technical and
semi-technical peaks over the
next month. I'll be ecstatic if I get three. All in all it
was a great trip and everyone moved pretty smoothly through the
Not Sure What Is Going On Here, We Must Have Had Vodka In The Camelback
Heading To Shoshoni
Apache And Navajo Peaks
Iriquois and Hopi
Me Looking At The Traverse
Traverse (Apache's North Ridge)
Starting The Traverse
Climbing Onto The Ridge
The Bishop's Scepter
The Black Night
Brian Mugging For The Camera
Brian Leading The Scepter
Brian Topped Out
Rebecca On The Scepter
Me On The Scepter
Climbing Towards The King's Pawn
Jen And Rebecca After The Scepter
More Of The Traverse
About Halfway Through The Traverse, Shoshoni Looks Far Away
More Pictures Of Jen Scrambling
Even More Pictures Of Jen Scrambling
Jen And Rebecca On A Tricky Section
Jen And Rebecca Coming Up The King
Ledges Leading Upwards Near The End
Shoshoni Looks Farther Away
Jen And Rebecca Coming Up The Ledges Near The Top Of The Ridge
Not Quite There Yet
Almost But Not Quite
Finally Done With The Traverse And On A cool 2nd Class Ridge To
Navajo, Dickers Peck, And A Crummy Snowfield
Nearing The Summit of Apache
I Don't Sign Them But Here Is A Picture
Brian exhibiting Extreme Caution With Loose Rocks
Coming Down Apache's East Ledges
Almost Down To The Trees
Jen And Rebecca At The Upper Lake
A Pretty Stream
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