"Alpine" Ascent of Seneca Rocks 2013

Trip Information

Dates: 1/11/2013 - 1/13/2013

Location: Seneca Rocks, WV


Team Members: Felix Duvallet & Tyler Quinn

Trip report by Tyler Quinn

Over the weekend of January 11th, the Explorer’s Club of Pittsburgh’s Mountaineering School took a trip to West Virginia to make an alpine style ascent of Seneca Rocks. Our plan was to wake up at 1am, start the 12 mile hike by 2am carrying our climbing and bivy gear, arrive at Seneca in the morning, climb as much as possible in packs and mountaineering boots, bivouac on the rocks, rappel down on Sunday morning, and get back to Pittsburgh before dark. It was a nice little Saturday. hiking
hiking & horses   

By 1:45am, we started hiking northward. Around 4am we started fighting fatigue and the waiting for the sun to come up. At 6:45am we turned off our headlamps and harnessed our second wind for the last push. After the last bit of elevation, we hit the pipeline at 7:30am, our turn off the trail. On the pipeline, we were pleasantly greeted by grazing horses from the ranch we were travelling through. Around 8:30am we arrived at the Seneca trail head to refill our water in the stream before our climb.

 It was an unusually warm January morning, perfect climbing weather. We decided to avoid the “stairmaster” by starting our climb on the Skyline Traverse (5.3) at the base of the East Face. This climb was a great way to get comfortable climbing in mountaineering boots and full packs. From there, we made our way to the base of Le Gourmet (5.4). We followed the first pitch of this route and then climbed Front C (5.6). The moves proved to be a challenge in boots, forcing Felix to use an impressively high heel hook in mountaineering boots on lead. After these pitches, we made our way to Old Man’s Traverse Ledge to prepare for our last pitch of climbing. We decided to end the day with the Critter Crack (5.6). After a couple impressive moves, Felix topped out on this lead with the abbreviated alpine rack just about gone. Soon after, I summited the climb after a couple falls. We high fived, and made our way to the summit for a picture. skyline 

After the summit, we rappelled half way down the East Face to the Alcoa Ledge. With the afternoon climbers still on the rocks, we had to wait to set up our bivy. I took advantage of this time to take a power nap, hanging in my harness off of the bolts. By 5pm we were cooking dinner of couscous, chocolates, and tea. Using some creativity, we fit both of our bivy sacs on the four foot wide ledge as the sun set. We soon settled into our sleeping bags, hoping we didn’t roll over in our sleep!

 By 7am the next morning, we were up and brewing tea before our morning rappel. We touched down safely and were hiking out by 8:30am. Soon we were back at the campground, thankful to rest our tired legs and take our heavy packs off. It was a long, hard weekend that taught me a lot about alpine climbing. As a first timer on this trip, I learned that it isn’t always pretty or easy, but, in the end will you know why everyone comes back every year. bivy