Damien and I originally planned to climb Vesper Peak on Saturday via the Ragged Edge and then Sperry via the Standard scramble on Sunday since there was the potential of rain. We began walking down the Sunrise Mine Trail were surprised by how many other technical climbers were also on their way to climb Ragged Edge and also True Grit, the two newest routes on Vesper. I had climbed Vesper via the North Face two years ago and didn’t see a single either party doing a technical route on the peak. Damien had climbed the peak via the North Face as well along with about 5 scramble ascents. Not once was there another party. However, we discovered that since the new guidebook came out things have changed. The guidebook describes the Ragged Edge (5.7) and True Grit (5.8) and climbers were flocking to the North side of Vesper to get their chance to climb the new routes.

I think we sensed that things might be a bit of a circus on the mountain after we crossed the final big creek in the forest and began the switchback up to the Writz Basin. I’ve never seen so many folks carting ropes in one area other than WA Pass. The trail is in descent shape with carins marking the way through the talus fields. It’s generally a rough trail though with big steps, rocks and roots to navigate. The climb to the top of steep Headlee Pass was glorious per the usual, but seemed to contain less loose rock from when I visited last. From the top of the pass at 4800ft the trail drops a bit before traversing across a scree field and finally to the outlet creek of Vesper lake at the head a basin. We crossed the creek and set up camp on the ridge. Everyone else seemed to camp on the lake giving us lots of solitude and some excellent views as well!

We didn’t linger at camp. Instead we geared up and followed the scramble trail up Vesper to the treeline. Then we traversed right and crossed slabs until we reached the small notch that grants access to the North Face Ledges. We could already see lots of people on the routes from that vantage point and we began to question if it was smart to begin in the afternoon with so many folks on the route. It is 6 pitches with no bail points, not exactly the idea circumstance of climbing our first high commitment route at 5.7. Things just weren’t sitting well with us, but we scrambled over the narrow ledges to the base of True Grit to get a closer look and make a final assessment. It turned out that we decided that the technical routes on Vesper were a circus and since a team of three had just started Ragged Edge behind about 5 other teams, we would be waiting a long time and we risked running out of daylight. We didn’t want to take that chance on a committing route, so we made the difficult decision to turn back and climb up the standard scramble route as kind of a consolation prize. The route basically starts at the treeline and climbs slabs and some block straight up to the summit. The rock is very solid and grippy with many route variations depending on have technical you’d like the moves to get. There was no snow on the rocks. We made it to the top pretty quickly and were afforded grand views of Big Four, Pugh, Sperry….the entire Mountain Loop summit group. We descended the climbing route back to camp and got to bed early in preparation for Sperry.

At first light Damien and I crossed over the outlet creek and traversed the talus along the bank of the right side of Vesper Lake. The going isn’t very difficult n the rock with the one obstance being getting around this huge slab on the far side. The solution is to simple go higher and cross over the top. Once on the other side of the lake and at the base of the headwall leading up to the Sperry-Vesper saddle we began to make our way upward on the rock and grassy ledges. We scrambled up more on the middle/right side of the headwall which led us to some interesting low class five moves on the slabs to gain the top of the headwall (exit marked by orange ribbon). For a much safer option (which we used on the way down), ascend on the far left of the headwall.

From there is an obvious trail on the right (some carins also provide markers) leading up the ridge to the upper talus field of Sperry. Here is where things start getting tricky. There is short, angle grassy slope just above the talus on the far right. Head to tho slope until the entrance to the most far left gulley hidden in the trees becomes visible. Carins will help guide the way. From there follow the steep trail, which can be brushy at times (veggie belays), through the pine trees and upward. The tree can make things a bit like a maze. If you get dead ended turn back and look for correct trail. You will always be able to fit through the trees without too much effort. We managed to get turned around quite a lot but did find our way to the upper boulders and scrambled easily to the summit. The descent is simply the reverse. No snow on this route either.

We packed up camp and headed out. There was heavy mist that came and went throughout the day, but no rain. One this was clear though… the air not how a crisp feel to it. Fall is coming and soon the snow with return!

 

 

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