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Crampons on Banner Peak Lake Catherine Glacier?

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Crampons on Banner Peak Lake Catherine Glacier?

Postby bainhameen » Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:38 am

In mid-September, I am attempting Banner Peak via the low-angle Lake Catherine glacier on the west side. What are the prospects for encountering soft enough midday snow that would allow for kick-stepping up to the saddle without crampons? Micro-spikes are a lighter-weight option as well but not sure if they would be of much benefit.

Thanks,

b-h



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Re: Crampons on Banner Peak Lake Catherine Glacier?

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:54 pm

Actually the key to the easiest route is the little rocky ridge between the L. Catherine and the glacier--this spur is the continuation of the W ridge of Banner. I was just reminded of this by a neighbor who returned after climbing the peak last week (or thereabouts). This is also apparent in the various reports I've read over the years on summitpost and climber.org. It has been many years since I was there (1973), but I know that there is a slanting class 2 ramp that surmounts this little spur. Once atop the spur (looks to me on topo like you get on top at about 11120+ you follow it up to the base of the main peak and my recollection was that the route stayed on scree and talus (easy stuff, not unpleasant) above the glacier and below the cliff line until the easy SW slope of Banner opened up above. This route was entirely class 2 versus the frequent reports I hear of class 3 moves on the lower section. It seems to me that any sort of difficulty (ie moves exceeding class 2) encountered by folks is a result of having issues at the very bottom. The only caveat is that although the glacier is almost certainly smaller than it was in 1973, I was there in September following a drier winter than this past one, so there was no seasonal snow left on the SW facing slopes of Banner--hence I don't recall ever planting my foot in snow on this route. In contrast, there was still snow calving into the upper Ritter Lake and one key snow patch that led to a route finding error on the W face of Ritter the next day. In any case, although I pretty much avoided all snow and ice and kept the route at strictly class 2 going up Banner, there may be seasonal snow draping the scree-talus traverse section I refer to above when you go up in a few weeks.

Regarding snow conditions, if in fact you actually walk on some, mid September snow is firm rather than soft. Postholing is unlikely to be an issue, whereas tedious sun cups may be. As for kicking steps, this depends on whether the seasonal snow has melted off the glacier, if in fact you will be on it. Obviously if its blue/black ice you won't be kicking steps. On the other hand, if you do the traverse on the n. side of the glacier that I describe you'll either be on seasonal snow, that you will probably be able to kick steps in, or on scree and talus. I hope this helps.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Crampons on Banner Peak Lake Catherine Glacier?

Postby markskor » Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:27 pm

FWIW, attempted the "Catherine from 1000 Island" route (North Glacier Pass?) last year - mid July and was turned back 1/3 of the way up, primarily by my being chicken. Steep angle, no run-out, and snot-slick snow made me re-assess my solo chances. Probably could/would have done it if had company but as alone, did not like the looks of the ice - BTW, no 'pons but had ice ax.
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Re: Crampons on Banner Peak Lake Catherine Glacier?

Postby rightstar76 » Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:13 pm

Okay this is what I remember. It was August during a normal year. I went up to Lake Catherine from Thousand Island Lake. Then I traversed the south shore. There was a class 3 part to get over the hump to the glacier. I don't remember it being too difficult. Then I kick stepped my way up the glacier in zig zag fashion to the top. I didn't have crampons. After going to the summit and back, I remember boot skiing back down to the hump. It was the middle of the afternoon by that time and the snow was soft.
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Re: Crampons on Banner Peak Lake Catherine Glacier?

Postby cvr » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:26 pm

I have done Banner three times from this route; once solo and twice with very new backpackers. Each time was in mid-August of normal snow years and each time I, or the group, have had ice axes (which I would recommend for stability and potential self-arrest). I have never needed nor wanted crampons. However, the suncups were sizable pretty much the whole way up making it diffcult to slide too far.
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