Tooth, SW Buttress, “The Crown,” New Route
On April 6, 2005, Doug Sredinsky and I explored a new line on the west side of Snagtooth Ridge near Washington Pass. We started up the Burgundy Col trail then angled right into the Willow Creek drainage. “Silver Tooth” was named for its relation to Snagtooth Ridge, its proximity to Silver Star, and its triangular, white, granite buttress which leads to a long, crescent ridge joining the three northern-most towers of Snagtooth Ridge. We began our route on clean granite to the right of the main weakness that cleaves the buttress. The first four pitches climbed hand and finger cracks averaging 5.7-5.8 with some interesting sporty face climbing at three distinct cruxes up to 5.9+. The first three pitches were 200ft long and the fourth 50ft, leading to the top of the white triangle (“Silver Tooth”). From here, we changed gears to simul-climbing and followed an amazing 1,200-ft-long, exposed, easy fourth- to fifth-class ridge over three towers for the remaining 600 vertical feet. The route ended 300ft south of the West Buttress of Silver Star. An exhilarating scree descent returned us to the Burgundy Col trail. Our climb was done car-to-car in little over half a day. No pins, bolts or tat were required.
Grade II, 5.9+
On April 27, 2005, Sky Sjue and I climbed and skied the NE Glacier on Jack Mountain in a long (23-hour) day, car-to-car. We arrived at the Canyon Creek trailhead only to find that the bridge was washed out and the river un-fordable...damn! We had to drive three miles back down Highway 20 and start at the East Creek trailhead, which added seven miles round-trip. We hiked up the trail to the 7,200-ft saddle east of Crater Mountain and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise that lit up the south face of Jack. From the saddle we skied down and across the Jerry Glaciers and climbed to a long spur ridge that eventually led to a basin below the SE face of Jack. A long rising traverse brought us to a 7,000-ft notch on Jack’s east ridge and a steep icy descent on skis deposited us onto the lower NE glacier. We climbed the glacier, which was mostly straightforward, and reached a high point on the north ridge just below the summit rock pyramid. It was time to ski. Less than ideal conditions were found on the glacier but it was a spectacular descent on a remote side of a remote peak. Once back over the east ridge, we found hundreds of vertical feet of perfect corn before having to don skins for the long traverse back up and around Crater Mountain and the long trail back to the car.
Mount Goode, East Face, Ski Descent
On May 23-24, 2005, Sky Sjue and I climbed and skied the East Face of Mount Goode. The East Face is a couloir or face that drops steeply from the notch between Goode’s summit and the SE Peak. We hiked in 14 miles from Rainy Pass, first down Bridge Creek and then up North Fork Bridge Creek. We crossed the creek on old avalanche deposits and negotiated the lower cliff bands. I chose to climb the rock and some trees, while Sky, true to form, opted for steep bushwhacking. Neither option was much better than the other, and eventually we reached the slopes below the Goode Glacier. We bivied just below the glacier. The next morning we started early, intending to climb and ski the East Face and hike all the way out to the car. We quickly ascended the face in stellar conditions. A large wind-slab forced us to ski from the notch instead of the higher knoll to the east, but we cared little because conditions were excellent. Several thousand feet of perfect snow conditions were the highlight of our day and made the 14-mile hike back to the car much more bearable.
Mount Arriva, East Peak, North Couloir, New Route
On May 28, 2005, I soloed this route following an approach over Easy Pass. I ascended upper Fisher Creek Basin then crossed the northwest-trending divide about one-half mile northeast of Arriva’s main summit. From the divide, a straightforward high traverse led across the hidden north cirque to the pocket glacier below the North Face. “Carl’s Couloir” followed the obvious, narrow 1,000-ft gully with two short 65-degree ice bulges providing the crux. After an attention-getting mixed finish, the couloir topped out within 200 feet of the East Peak. Descent was by the standard south gullies to Silent Lakes.
Mt Maude, West Couloir, Ski Descent
On June 4, 2005, Jason and Josh Hummel and I hiked the Leroy Basin trail to the west side of Mount Maude. The 2,000-ft West Face Couloir looked thin, with sections of missing snow, but we figured we’d give it a shot. A few hundred feet up, we encountered a rocky gap in the couloir that we passed via a 15-foot, fourth-class step. From there, the summit was relatively smooth sailing. The descent began with slopes of smooth, sweet corn. As the couloir narrowed, it got steeper with funky surface snow and all sorts of weird angles. The face to our right appeared to have better skiing, but we had come to do the couloir, so we stuck with it. The crux was a six-foot drop-off at about 70 degrees followed by a steep, narrow snow finger with a gap, a rock constriction, and a direction-change to reach the wider section below. The 15-foot rocky gap seemed easier going down than up, and we eventually enjoyed easy turns back to the basin.
Robinson Mountain, North Couloir, Ski Descent
On June 15, 2005, Phil Fortier, Kam Leang and I hiked up Robinson Creek to Porcupine Camp. A short way beyond the camp, we climbed to the divide between Devils Peak and Robinson Mountain. We descended into the basin to the northeast and traversed eastward on talus for a mile or so to the eastern half of the great northwest-facing cirque of Robinson. The narrow couloir ascends this cirque to a point just west of the true summit. Kam chose to ski the apron at the foot of the couloir while Phil and I cramponed to the top. The couloir had a firm, icy base overlaid with an inch of powder. The descent began with an open 40-degree-ish slope. The crux was a narrow 50-degree section only slightly wider than a ski length. We sidestepped the narrowest part and made cautious turns for a few hundred vertical feet below. As the angle eased we enjoyed linked turns to the apron where we rejoined Kam and began retracing our route home.
On June 23, 2005, Sky Sjue, Phil Fortier, Paul Belitz and I skied the NW Buttress of Bonanza Peak. From Holden Village on the 22nd, we hiked to Holden Pass, then descended a short distance to a camp at the head of Sable Creek. The next morning we traversed the Sable Creek drainage north, then climbed to the ridge dividing Sable and Company Creeks. We descended and traversed west across talus, snow and steep gullies to the bottom of the Company Glacier at about 5,800 feet.
We roped up for the lower glacier, but encountered few crevasse obstacles. Above the bergschrund, the slopes of the NW Buttress steepened to 45 degrees. The snow was still firm on the surface, perfect for kicking steps. The slope angle eased at a shelf above which a couple of steeper rolls eventually joined the ridgeline on the right. The last 100 feet to the false summit presented either rock scrambling or icy snow bulging to near 60 degrees. Sky skied from the false summit and rejoined the top of the buttress through a rock band where the rest of us dropped in.
The snow on the NW Buttress was quite firm, but held an edge. The top is steep, sustained, and exposed to cliffs which skirt the Company Glacier Headwall over 1,500 feet below. Near the ridge at skier’s left, the snow had been softened by the sun and was more forgiving. The more conservative members of our party worked left, while the more aggressive skiers flirted with the more exposed slopes directly below. The leftward traverses linking the steep slopes made a levitating-above-the-glacier feeling permeate the whole route. After an exhilarating 3,600-foot descent, we found ourselves at the toe of the Company Glacier admiring this magnificent route on Washington’s tallest non-volcanic peak.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next>>
|©2006 Northwest Mountaineering Journal|
|Site design by Steve Firebaugh|