Edmunds Headwall Route Conditions - July 29th
Keith Young and Jim Cullem made a successful ascent of the Edmunds Headwall on July 29th.
They camped at 8,600 feet on lower Ptarmigan Ridge, in a walled bivy site which was easy to find. Look for it after you pass Observation Rock, along the spine of
Ptarmigan Ridge. From the bivy, the pair descended 900 feet of scree in a gully (near their bivi) to the snowfield above the North Mowich Glacier. Use caution here, as the rock is very loose (i.e. wear your helmet!)
From the snowfield, traverse and climb towards the Mowich Face. The team pushed across the North Mowich Glacier and a few glacier islands towards a large gendarme at the base of the Edmunds Headwall. They camped at the base of the gendarme, near 10K, which marks the upper part of the Edmunds Glacier (9 hours from camp.) The gendarme also offered some protection from rockfall off the face.
The ascent began at 3:45 a.m in an attempt to minimize rockfall issues. Note, however, that the route is protected from solar radiation until the mid to late morning. From camp, they crossed the bergschrund in a red scree gully. This involved 40 feet of climbing over loose, unprotectable rock, before ascending right into the snow and ice of the headwall.
There was rockfall on the route, so the team moved quickly from rock band to rock band which provided some shelter. The ice conditions on the face were described as GREAT: firm neve for ax placement, and sun-cupping for flat-footing and rest positions.
Up the face they went. There are some break and rest points along they way, and an eastward traverse near the bench at 12,500 feet. The team was able to use buried pickets and ice screws for protection when needed. From the top of the face to Liberty Cap, things went smoothly. The two pitched camp on the summit plateau between the top of Curtis Ridge and Columbia Crest after 18 hours of travel. The next day, they traversed onto the Emmons route and descended to Camp Schurman.
Both climbers really enjoyed the route, but agreed that it may be near the end its climbing season.
Photos and some text by Keith Young & Jim Cullem