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"Day Fluting" by Wayne Todd in "Scree" Magazine




On June 29, 2001, Kathy Still, Steve Wilson, Doug Zellmer and I headed in under mostly cloudy skies to try Flute Peak. We made good time to the lakes and due to the high water level went south around Eagle Lake. Farther up valley, we ascended left around the beautiful and thundering water falls. We were now in new territory for Steve and Doug.

Kathy led up the Flute Glacier, her steps sinking only six inches, an advantage of the cloudy skies and cooler temperatures. Doug led up to the pass north of Allegro (5860). I diverted slightly to investigate a bright orange object that I'd seen four weeks previous. It was a NOAA weather instrument. I hauled it to the pass planning to retrieve it on the exodus. We scrambled down a gully onto the Organ Glacier, managing to not knock boulders on one another. We roped up there, as the Organ isn't as innocuous as the Flute.

At the base of Flute Peak we discussed routes and a majority vote led to a snow route running south that led to the summit ridge. From below we could see an open crevasse which looked crossable on the right side. That went fine but once across the first one a bergschrund running right to left revealed itself. We were able to sneak between the two and bypass this to the left, placing a few pickets in this section. After a brief bit of 45 degree snow climbing we topped out on the ridge.

The cloud ceiling had been lowering since we hit the Organ Glacier. As we approached the summit block it began raining slightly. We decided a rope was in order for half a pitch on the wet rock. I led up the route and soon thereafter we were all on top.

We could just make out Eagle and Ewe Peak from the summit. We found a cairn but no register so we left one. When Steve tossed the rope down for the rappel it made a pop sound, which was odd, and he commented as such. Doug heard a sizzling from his helmet and had a 'spider web' sensation on his face. I heard a sizzling sound and then realized it was my raincoat.

St. Elmo's Fire! We all suddenly became enlightened. I raised my bare hand to feel the hair raise from electricity. We were wearing helmets but now noticed eyebrows were tingling. The summit no longer seemed to be the 'happening place'. We all crouched at the rap station wanting to be next. By virtue of my sizzling raincoat I avoided the last position. All made it down safely.

From the summit we had viewed a snow slope which looked to be continuous running down the west side to the Flute Glacier. We thought this route would save time, distance, and elevation gain, although it meant leaving the NOAA box. We progressed well down the mushy 45-degree snow slope until 100 yards from the glacier where we encountered the dreaded unfilled bergschrund. I was lowered over the gap first and once on the safe side proclaimed, "it's not bad, we could just jump across (wink, wink, wink). " Even with a top rope I couldn't manage to climb the overhang back to the upper side. Steve devised a huge bollard, which was used to safely lower everyone downÉdon't figure.

Once on the flats of glacier and beyond we made excellent time with the 'open barn door' principle and arrived back at the trailhead just under 18 hours from whence we left. A classic climb was had with friends, adventure and great scenery.