Julie and I attempted the Southeast Ridge of Argonaut this past weekend. It is a route that only has a paragraph in the Beckey Guide. Reported good rock on a granite ridge with a difficulty of 5.6. With good knowledge of the route, and a strong party, this could be a day climb. With not much beta on the climb, we decided to make it a two-day trip. On Saturday, we hiked in and set up camp near Fourth Creek. We then went on a scouting hike to determine the approach to the climb. After hiking up a dry creek (which turned into a wet creek) we saw a ridge forming to our west. We left the creek bed and hiked up game trails to 5000'. We decided that this felt like the correct approach, and would take this path up the ridge on Sunday.
We awoke at 4:30 am Sunday and proceeded to take Saturday afternoon's path up the ridge. After about an hour, the hiking became more bushwacking and then scrambling. At some point we started roped climbing for a pitch only to realize at the top of the pitch that we appeared to be too far east. We rapped west of the ridge for some more scrambling to what appeared to be the correct ridge. Roped climbing started again, and after three pitches we could finally see the false summit (SE Spire) above us. Realizing that it was almost noon with at least 5 pitches of belayed climbing to the false summit, we made the decision to retreat.
I down climbed to a tree that started the first of five bailing rappels. The hike out below the rappels was loose rock and alpine meadows with what appeared to be dwarf (<1' tall) madrona trees. Some bushwacking through the woods got us back to the Ingall's Creek trail and then back to pack up camp and then on to the car.
It was an interesting experience, and I think there must be an easier approach to the ridge and the rock climbing is supposed to start higher up. I presume we gained the ridge too low and that was the issue.
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