Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif Trip Report (#20468)

  • Signed By: Todd Passey
  • Date submitted: November 01, 2006
  • Number of People Encountered:0-10 people
  • Recommend to a Friend: Highly

We had been stuck in Vinson base camp for several days, waitinf for clear weather so wo could fly to Patriot Hill and then home. The weather was cloudy enough to prevent a safe landing, but not bad enough to keep us from climbing. Around midnight we put toghether a small amount of gear and prepared for our climb. Neither of us had brought technical gear; we were there to guide people up th Normal fouthe on Vinson (for Alpine Ascents International)not to climb steep snow and mixed ground. So, With borrowed technical tools, 30 meters of rope and a few ice screws, we set out.

On our ski to the base of the west face we discussed which of the gullies we would attempt. We both had thoughts of the unclimbed gully just left of the Banana Friendshiop gully, but shared doubts of its feasibility, given our meager rack. We decided to give it a try, but were willing to back off it it became too difficult to climb safely.

At 3 a.m. we began climbing. From the Brandscomb Glacier the route crosses a burgshrund and up a 40 to 50 degree snow slope through broken rock bands. The climbing was on perfect neve that became gradually steeper as we climbed. The angle approached 70 degrees as we entered the gully, which, higher up narrowed until it became a 10 meter chimney. we exited the chimney to a low angle slab. Once up the chimney we discussed turning back, but decided it was probably safer to keep climbing than retreat.

from the low angle slab we traversed left to a sloping ledge, which led to a snowy ridge. The crest of the ridge looked like it might offer a direct shot to the top of the face. Instead we found another 500m of 50-60 degree mixed climbing. It was a spectacular night, the clouds that had been keeping us from climbing, were slowly clearing. the sun shinning from above turned the cloud filled gully into a "Purple Haze". We reached the top of the face in the late morning and, knowing the planes were now likely to fly, we opted to forgo the last few hundred meters of straight forward climbing (which we had already done many times with clients) to the summit.

The route which we named the Purple Haze Couloir, gave 1,750m of climbing on snow and short sections of mixed up to IV 70 degree M3.

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