Sisyphus (Photo above)
This new route has been completed on the Goat Wall, outside Mazama, Washington. It is fully equipped with bolts for 10 pitches. Rap stations are conveniently located to allow rapping with a single 60 m rope. It lies on the buttress right of Burdo’s “Restless Native” and left of “Promised Land”. A topo is usually available on the bulletin board outside the North Cascades Mountain Guides shop next to the Mazama Store. If not, the store has some copies as does Winthrop Mountain Sports. The route is pretty well scrubbed but if you find a wire brush hanging from the first bolt please feel free to use it on the climb. The rock is superb and the climbing is of a very technical nature, sort of like steep Tuolumne slabs. However, since a couple of the dreaded Goat Wall ledges, with their choss, are crossed, helmets are advised. Despite bolts, this is definitely not a “sport” route. We did place a bolt that you can yard on through the crux if you can’t figure that out, but you must be comfortable climbing 5.10 well above the bolts. No dangerous runouts, but spacing is further than typical sport routes. We will be putting the topo on the guide service web site www.ncmountainguides.com. Enjoy.
III 5.11a or 5.10c A0
Goat Wall above Mazama has seen sporadic climbing development over the years. Easy access and incredible views of both the valley and the main range give climbs there a unique semi-alpine feel. The rock is of generally good to excellent quality but natural protection possibilities are sparse especially on the finest rock. Hence all the routes so far have been bolted.
Bryan Burdo and Pete Doorish established the outstanding climb “The Promised Land” on the lower right portion of the wall in 1989, but this route is still awaiting continuation of its two outstanding pitches all the way to the main ledge 1,000 feet up. The group effort,“Inspiration Route,” completed in 1996, has become popular, not necessarily due to continuously outstanding climbing, but because of its position on Goat Wall and its moderate level of difficulty.
Burdo also put up “Restless Native” farther up valley. This route, for which no topo yet exists, is a classic of the area. It starts just to the right of the main water mark which becomes “The Goats Beard” ice formation in winter. The lower pitches are wet in the spring. It is steep and long and goes at 5.11. Bolts are placed to allow for French freeing the crux.
Several routes of very high standard exist on the Diamond Point buttress which sits above the large treed ledge in the center of the wall. These range from 5.11-5.13. No topos exist yet. Access to this rock used to be best by driving the Goat Peak road to the cattle guard near Goat Wall overlook and finding the climbers trail. The approach is hazardous, involving spooky down climbing, loose rappeling, and some via ferrata. Now one would be much better advised to climb the Sisyphus route to the large ledge.
Vasiliki Ridge, Ares Tower, New Route
In April 2003, Mark Bunker and Colin Haley climbed what is likely a new route on Ares Tower that is parallel to, and just right of the route “Never Enough.” The route followed gullies and chimneys on generally good rock.
IV, AI3, M4
Pyramid Peak, Northeast Face “It Ain’t Over Mf’ers”, New Route
Coley Gentzel, Chris Koziarz, and Robert Rogoz completed this route in February 2003 [ed –distinct from the Ruch-Cotter Route, which starts much further right]. Start on the left side of the N. Face of Pyramid in the big snow gully. Ascend the gully for about four hundred feet (or halfway up).
P1: A shallow groove of ice/neve is the start of the route. Go up the groove for 50m (80 degrees at first) to a ledge under an overhanging wall.
P2: Go to the right, up a snow/neve ramp for 55m.
P3: Simul-climb for about 100m on snow to the fifty degree iced-up slab on the left edge of the snowfield. The pro here is bad.
P4: Go up a steep groove (about 75 degrees), traverse slightly left, pull into a small left facing corner (90 degrees) then onto some ice and angle left across a 20m snowfield (55m total).
P5: Start on 90-degree thin ice onto a little iced-up slab and onto a snow ramp.
P5 & P6: Follow the snow ramp right.
P7: Angle up and left to the final groove and the summit.
Gear: 4 knifeblades, medium Lost Arrow, cams from TCU#2 to
3.5-inch, 2 Warthogs, 1 Spectre, set of stoppers, 2 screws (10 and
Grade IV+, M4
Kangaroo Ridge Steep Ski Descents
Scott Johnston, Ottis Buzzard, Katharine Bill and Chris Clark skied the north facing couloir from near the summit of Big Kangaroo in the West Fork of Cedar Creek. Approach from the hairpin turn on Hwy 20, directly toward the summit of Big Kangaroo. Enter the couloir via notch to the south of the main summit block. Very narrow and off-fall-line skiing make the first 300 feet trickier than the 50 degrees feel. The next 700 feet are wider and less steep. This challenging and serious descent is in a very dramatic setting.
Life is Good Gully
Larry Goldie and Scott Johnston skied a north facing couloir from the shoulder of Wallaby peak into the head of the Main Fork of Cedar Creek. The adjacent couloir just west had been skied 2 winters prior during the filming of an extreme snow board movie. Approach over Kangaroo pass and climb the south slopes to the prominent high notch just east of the main summit of Wallaby. The cornice has been less than 4 feet on all subsequent descents so entry is not usually a big issue. The gully is about 25 feet wide and fairly constant 45 degrees for over 500 feet. It empties into a large bowl known locally as Mushroom Bowl for the prominent mushroom shaped rock that dominates it under the South Face of Half Moon. Moderate as local steep routes go and very enjoyable. You’ll agree with the name when you make your first turns.
On February 7th-8th (2003) Forrest Murphy and I made the first winter ascent of Inspiration Peak, by its West Ridge. We left the Goodell Creek trail head very early on February 7th, and made it to a camp midway up the Terror Glacier that afternoon traveling on snowshoes. The unusually low snow pack certainly helped make the approach reasonable. On the 8th we snowshoed the rest of the way up the Terror Glacier, to the base of Inspiration’s South Face, at its far left side. From there, we climbed the south-facing gully, which was mostly steep snow, leading to the col between Inspiration Peak and The Pyramid. Halfway up this gully, we were pleased to find that a flow of water-ice came down the right side of a chockstone that otherwise comprises the crux of the route. From the Inspiration-Pyramid col, we climbed the West Ridge in three 60 meter pitches. The rock was covered in a significant layer of rime ice, which was thick enough to gingerly swing our ice tools in places. We down climbed our last pitch, and then made three single-rope rappels, from pitons and a chockstone, back to the Pyramid-Inspiration col. As the sun was now shining on our ascent gully in full force, we hurriedly down climbed most of it, but made one rappel over the chockstone, and one directly below it. We returned to our camp on the Terror Glacier, packed up and began the long hike out, reaching the car at 10 p.m.
In the excellent weather of February 6-7th, 2003, Sean Courage, Tim Matsui and I made what to our knowledge is the first winter ascent of Mt. Buckner. It seems remarkable that one of Washington’s 9,000 foot summits had yet to see a winter ascent, but we could find none on record. Our original plan to traverse Sahale Peak and climb the North Face was scuffled due to windy conditions and general lethargy, so we opted for the Southwest face, which offered some excellent skiing.
Upon reaching the top, I couldn’t remember which of the two summits was higher. Just to make sure we didn’t blow the FWA, I descended a few hundred feet down the North Face to traverse over to the East summit, which turns out to be several feet lower, according to the Beckey guide. Oh well. Extremely high winds complicated our return to camp, where a few exciting encounters with wind-slabs forced us to climb an interesting variation on water ice to regain Sahale Arm. We skied down the Arm on glare ice, saddened to find that the gale had stripped away the nice powder we had toured through on the way up, but happy to escape nonetheless.
Little Big Chief Mountain, Falcon Route, New Route
Jeff Hansell and I made this ascent on September 10, 2001. Little Big Chief Mountain is located in the seldom-visited Summit Chief Valley in the North Central Cascades. The Summit Chief Valley is a tributary to the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River Valley. The route is never really hard, but is remote and demands a variety of alpine skills.
To approach, drive the Middle Fork Valley Road to its end and hike up the valley for about 3 hours. When you get to a small steel bridge, leave the hiking trail and start hiking cross-country in a southerly direction to the entrance of the Summit Chief Valley. The objective should be clearly visible on the east side of the valley. Hike up into the Summit Chief Valley until you reach the very distinct flat gravel wash at about 4,650 feet. Great low-impact camp spots are available here.
From camp walk to short distance to a distinct talus field that leads 900 feet up to the base of the route at a prominent left trending gully. Follow this up about 50 feet, then right to dead tree. At 5,650 feet go up (5.5) and right to another dead tree, then at 5,730 feet go up a few 5.6 moves to easier terrain. Reach sloping heather benches and follow these up to 5,850 feet. Here gain the prominent right trending ramp and follow this to the actual headwall at 6,220 feet just left of the very prominent vertical chimney. From this point, the climb is described pitch-by-pitch as follows:
Pitch 1: A right trending undercling. Full pitch. 5.8
Pitch 2: Up a steep but easy groove for 60 feet, then left onto a rib then into another groove. 5.7
Pitch 3: Follow this groove to the base of a steep headwall 5.5
Pitch 4: A short but steep headwall with good pro, then into another groove 5.9
Pitch 5: Follow groove. Lots of stemming in steep terrain. Great pro. 5.7
Pitch 6: Start in the groove, then onto easy terrain with big belay ledge. 5.7/5.8
At this point, you are at the summit height of the huge prow on your left.
Pitch 7: Easy to mid-fifth class on good rock trending slightly right to a ridge near the summit crest. 5.5
Pitch 8: Keep traversing right on great rock (exposed) and gain the summit crest. (5.7)
Pitch 9: Follow the narrow and exposed summit ridge to the top at 7225 feet. (4th class)
To descend, follow down the ridge to the south for several hundred feet. Then turn left and gain little pocket glacier. Go down pocket glacier, then keep trending left over big glacier polished slabs (very tricky when wet). Keep trending left and hit the ridge crest at 5400 feet. Here one to two steep rappels will let you back into the Summit Chief Valley. From the bottom of the rappels trend more left, follow goat ledges, then down in steep forest back to camp. IV/ 5.9 (RT).
“Whine Spire”, Gato Negro, New Route
(Route climbs dark rock face just right of the prominent Wine Spires - Silver Star notch).
Probable new route on the West Face of Silver Star, done June 21, 2001. The climb was done car to car in 17 hours. It is entirely on a separate spire that stands out from the west face and visually blends in due to being somewhat lower than the ridgeline above. We jokingly named this spire the Whine spire and in keeping with the Wine Spire route names, called this route Gato Negro.
We followed the line of weakness starting about 100/200 yards up the snow slope from a large yellow scar. Most of the pitches are very high quality with the exception of 2 and 3 which wander a bit but were necessary to avoid serious unprotected hard climbing on the obvious clean face below pitch 4. Five or six pitches contain fun 5.7-5.9 hand cracks on very good rock. All belays are at comfortable stances. The 4th pitch gives the hardest climbing in an overhanging double corner. Three other pitches proved superb 5.10 climbing. The last pitch to the top of the false summit is a perfect 5.10 splitter. One can opt out of this via a scary 5.6 traverse onto the real summit.
Descent is down the large gully to the southwest that separates the Whine spire from the main massif. Two raps take one into the gully, which leads right back to the base of the climb. Subsequent parties have reported the climb to be one of the best sustained routes in the Washington Pass area. A very strong party has done the route car to car in 12 hours.
Grade IV 5.10+
-Larry Goldie and Scott Johnston
Gilbert Mountain, East Ridge of the North Peak, New Route
In September 2000 I soloed this route. Approach was made by cutting off from the North Lake trail about one-half mile before the lake. Climbing is on the ridge crest to the summit. II, F4. (Note: Cascade Alpine Guide 3, 2nd Ed. contains an error regarding my climb on Gilbert Mountain on October 8, 1994. It incorrectly describes my route as the North Ridge of the North Peak. Instead, the North Ridge of the main summit was climbed.)
Mike Preiss solo climbed this face on sight, without bolts or pins, self-belaying the harder pitches in July 1999. A variation was reported in the March 2004 issue of Rock & Ice which is a fully bolted sport route that climbed the upper face straight on. The middle third of the original solo and variation are approximately the same line. On the original solo, a traverse in from the trees to a large shelf bypassed the 4-5 pitch lower third of the bolted variation. On the upper third, Mike climbed a nice chimney/corner on the left then finished 4-5 pitches on a rock rib (5.8); exiting the face 40-50 feet left of the highest point. The original solo bivied once on the face.
III, 5.8 minimum
North Gardner Mountain, Northeast Couloir, New Route and Ski Descent
In the late 1990s, in spring, Sprague Ackley and Brian Povolny climbed and skied a narrow couloir on the NE face of North Gardner Mountain, which had no previous known ascent. This face has several gullies, and Povolny reported that they tackled “the most compelling one.” The pair flew by helicopter into the area, which lies just outside the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, spent several days climbing and skiing the local peaks, then skied out.
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