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Sat, Sep 8 2012 - Little Matterhorn (View Original Event Details)

Coordinator(s): Jim Foster
Participants:Jim Foster, Tim Anderson, Don Arthur, Barbara Schwarz, Rick Thomas, Carly Hohf

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Write Up:
Six of us did this climb as a short backpack trip simply for the relaxation and the overnight backcountry experience. On Saturday we backpacked in the 4.5 miles to Snyder Lake, set up camp and constructed our summit packs. We headed out from Snyder Lake around 11:00 am. The first hurdle was getting to upper Snyder Lake. Everything we had been told was stay to the right - right of upper Snyder Lake and right of the falls in the headwall. It turns out the approach to the summit block was the hardest part of our climb given the beta we received. At the head of lower Snyder Lake we spotted a gulley that looked promising for gaining the upper lake terrace. We started across the rock field and up the talus slope toward it. This turned out to be a formidable obstacle and took us a fair amount of time to climb through the debris and up this very steep gulley - in some places low class V. Once onto the upper bench we began bushwhacking through the most luscious huckleberry patch I think any of us has seen. Obviously we made slow progress as we grazed on hucks as big as 1/2-inch diameter. Unbelievable! We finally broke out of the trees on the side of the basin and headed toward the now famous snow cave, which had collapsed, to stay high in the basin. Climbing through the moat of this remnant glacier was amazing with an ice wall probably 30 feet high. Through this obstacle we headed up toward a laid back cirque that looked promising for climbing. As we continued higher the rocks and ground were slick making us all a bit nervous. Finally in the rocks of this side headwall we picked our way up 4th class rock to what looked like a promising terrace that wrapped around the left wall of the cirque. This terrace in fact did take us into the main cirque but we had to cross a 24 inch outward sloping ledge with a roof, requiring us to crouch. This ledge looked down over 75 feet of almost sheer cliff. Once in the main cirque we continued up over very slick rocks and bear grass crossing two creeks chocked with rock-snot and finally topped out on the saddle between Edwards and the Little Matterhorn. After a bite of lunch we studied the summit block and could clearly see the route we were headed up. We made our way up the gentle slope and over to the first pitch of our climb, a huge dihedral that sloped up and to the right. The climb up was great with excellent rock and tons of foot and handholds. At the top of this dihedral and just before reaching the ridge we broke left on a terrace that climbed parallel with the ridge. The next pitch destination was marked by a large conifer (the second on this terrace) marking the low class V route to the top. This climb again went very well with great holds. We summited around 3:30 and enjoyed spectacular views of Sperry Glacier, Floral Park and the Avalanche Fire. Mount Cleveland in the north was snowcapped already. We headed down around 4:30, rappelling the 60 foot low class V pitch. The 100 foot rope I brought was about 20 feet short to get down to the terrace so we had to exit the rap and down climb the last 10 feet. All did great and we continued down off the summit block. The dihedral was slow going but everyone did great on this down climb. The sun had finally wrapped around the mountain helping to dry the rock we had climbed earlier. We returned almost exactly the way we came up except below the fourth class rock we made a beeline down a very long talus slope toward the bottom of the upper Snyder Lake valley with vegetation that was more navigable. We made it back to camp just before dark, spending 11.5 hours on the climb that day. The group was extremely well matched and everyone did superb even in the diciest terrain. Some comments from the climb team: Barb Schwarz says, "Thanks to Jim and Tim for leading this great climb! It was truly a team effort fueled by giant Huckleberries and supported by perfect weather conditions." Tim Anderson says, "Things I will remember about Little Matterhorn: The most interesting, difficult, and dangerous approach I have ever had; The cleanest climbing rock I have ever seen in the park; The biggest and sweetest huckleberries ever; A deer ate my sweatband." Rick Thomas says, " Thanks for the fantastic climb!"

Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Tim Anderson at Please note that we prefer to receive the photos in approximately 640x480 or 750x500 pixels - do NOT send original high-res photos. If you have a LOT of photos, please submit up to twenty of your favorites (only) for a day event, or up to forty of your favourites for a multi-day event. Thank you.

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