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Topic "Chephren - std route (1 of 5)" started by Jason Wilcox on Aug-07-2007

Topic: Chephren - std route (1 of 5)
Author: Jason Wilcox
Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 03:34 PM

On Sunday, Aug 5, Jess, Jo and I drove to Waterfowl Lake campground enroute to Mt Chephren. When we got to the campground, we realized that we forgot the approach description� had the route description, but we didn�t know how to get there. I thought I remembered something about a faint trail that goes down the east side of Chephren Lake, so off we set, me asking about Jess�s stove�.

�What do you mean I was supposed to bring my stove?� She says�. Uh-oh.

So we walk around the campground and find a coffee percolator, and we have lighters, so� off we go, only an hour behind schedule.

The hike to Chephren Lake is boring, but once you get to the lake, you�ll be amazed at the giant face that stands before you. After another hour and a half or so, we were done the never-ending boulder hop to the S end of Chephren Lake, looking for a spot to camp. There are a few great camping spots at the end of the lake, and there is even some dry wood around, though not a lot.

I went for a dip in the lake that evening, and we went to bed around 2200. Up at 0400 (me a little earlier), on the go at 0500 or so. We had looked at the route in the evening and you can�t see the entire snow ramp from camp. I had bad feelings that it would be melted out the way Quadra/Bident was, but I would be pleasantly surprised. The moraine approach to the snow ramp is a concentration-requiring trek, with steep firm sides � you cannot afford a slip here.

We roped up for the snow slope (cause there were a few huge holes in it for a snow slope � with a 15 foot wide shrund, I think it�s a glacier!), and I kicked steps for what seemed an eternity before we finally topped out near the Chephren/White Pyramid col. I found placements for 2 ice screws in that slope, but wished we had brought a few pickets to protect the schrund and a couple of other holes. But the snow was good and firm, so we weren�t too worried about a slip taking us down.

The East Ridge on White Pyramid looked to be in somewhat poor shape � bare ice on the N side with significant cornices on the S side. There was also a poor looking section a little over halfway up where the ice was broken up and bare rock above. We decided that with the iffy weather, we should avoid this slope and just go for Chephren and get out.

The last trudge up the scree slope from the col to the summit goes by uneventfully, and after another hour or so we were standing at the top of Chephren in more or less a full whiteout. Great. One of the best views in the Rockies huh�. Oh well, at least we made it, and I got a great laugh out of Andrew�s summit register entry! Every now and then it would open for a second and you could see down to the lake. That view in itself was mind-blowing!
5.5 hrs camp to summit � would be faster if you aren�t carrying extra ice gear for White Pyramid.

We decided that with the day getting warmer, we would descend the scramble route. Here�s where things get interesting. The scramble route was way more dangerous (IMHO) with way more route finding required. It starts off easy, with a ridge walk, then some nice knee-saving scree. Then you loose the trail (I�m guessing avalanches/melt water blur the trail a lot every spring because the rock is so loose) and eventually find it going through a cliff band in a small gully. This gully is not that difficult, but tons of loose rock comes crashing into it from above when anyone is near the top, so do this section one at a time! Then some more scree bashing and you come to a shoulder and start going down the S face. Another loose gully that sends TONS of rock showering down, regardless of how careful you are, so again, stay really close to one another and go with a small group. This is a rather tough section to stay on the trail, and we actually got off route, but managed to scramble down some stupid gully with a little luck� This brings you down to the chimney where there is a fixed rope. I went first, and I�ve never been so scared on a scramble in my life! Maybe it had something to do with the large pack I had on, but it just felt like the most awkward thing to down climb while holding the rope, and I thought it might be the last thing I ever down climbed! So I got to the bottom with (somehow) dry underwear, but tied our rope onto the fixed rope and told the girls to rap. They did, and even on rappel they thought it was awkward and sketchy. They were glad I had them rap, and I wish I had just rapped, but I figured �it�s the scramble route � how bad can it be??��

The rest of the descent went by slowly and uneventfully, except for dodging more rock fall on the wide-open steep slope. Watch your step though; there are some scree-covered slabs in there that will put you on your ass if you�re not careful! Don't ask how I know.... ;-)

The only other thing I should mention is the creek crossings on the way back to camp. There are two and they are large and violent in the afternoon. I moved some large rocks into the current so we could step across. Good luck finding them. Alternately, you could probably find reasonable water depths and slower current near the lake � the ground is more flat down there, but that would require wading and not hopping.

Thanks to the girls for a great weekend! These two tired me out Bill! ;-)

Pics at:


Jason Wilcox

Topic: Chephren - std route (2 of 5)
Author: Jp S
Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 05:27 PM

Thanks for the great TR.

I would really like to do this one sometime. Based on your TR, it sounds like I'll be taking the snow/glacier route described in selected alpine (up and down) and not the scrambler's route. I would assume then that earlier in the season would work (whereas on the scramblers route, you want to wait until later for it to be drier).

What was your time like? I've always wondered how long of a day it would be to get both Chephren and White Pyramid. (With my speed, I've always thought that doing both is out.)


Topic: Chephren - std route (3 of 5)
Author: Jason Wilcox
Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 07:24 PM

Total round-trip time was about 10 hrs. If we knew the scramble route and hadn't carried the extra gear for WP, we probably would have been 8.5 or so.
If you want to link them, try to go as light as possible - it's a freaking big mountain - even bigger than it looks. And if you want to go back down the snow ramp, I'd pick a cooler month than August. I'd go in late June/early July when the forecast is cool.

Jason Wilcox

Topic: Chephren - std route (4 of 5)
Author: Andrew Nugara
Date: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 04:40 PM

Congratulations on Chephren and Nestor's East Ridge, Jason.

The route-finding going up Chephren is fairly straightforward, but I can totally see how if you didn't come up that way, it would be really difficult to find your way down. The route does meander all over the mountain for a while.


Topic: Chephren - std route (5 of 5)
Author: Mountain Ninja
Date: Thursday, August 09, 2007 02:03 PM

Congratulations on Chephren, Jason!

Frank and I almost did Chephren the same day you climbed it, but changed our objective to Stephen, due to low clouds in the Chephren area.