Waterfall in the Pickets © Mike Layton
  Part 3  


Mount Buckner, Complete SE Ridge, New Route

Mount Buckner’s SE Ridge on the right skyline. © John Scurlock
Mount Buckner’s SE Ridge on the right skyline. Enlarge. © John Scurlock

On my first climb of Goode Mountain two years ago, the striking SE Ridge of Mount Buckner caught my eye but I was sure that such an obvious line must have been climbed decades before. After climbing Goode again in 2006, I researched the mountain and saw that the complete ridge remained unclimbed. From the east this ridge contrasts sharply with the two halves of the Buckner Glacier, which it divides. Through the climbers’ grapevine, I learned that Gordy Skoog had been eyeing this climb since before I was born. We were soon in email contact and planning our attempt. Gordy and I met for the first time at our rendezvous below the Buckner Glacier on August 5, 2006, Gordy having come in from the west side of the Cascades, and I from the hamlet of Stehekin to the east. We began the ridge at the bottom of the glacier and soloed several hundred feet of 4th and low 5th class to the end of the lower ridge. This natural break gives access to the last snow and bivouac spot along the route, the highpoint of a 1980’s attempt. On the morning of the 6th, we started steeply up the ridge crest, apprehensive of gendarmes we knew to lie ahead. The rock was often loose and licheny, although none of the climbing felt dangerously run-out. Steep 5.8 crack-climbing led to the top of one of the towers, from which we had to rappel off the back side. We found ourselves able to bypass the summit of another tower on the left side via enjoyable blocky climbing. We soon returned to the crest and reached the summit after a few more pitches. The second day’s climbing had taken 12 hours, and we were rewarded with a beautiful scenic sunset during the 3rd class descent into upper Horseshoe Basin.

Grade IV, 5.8

-Blake Herrington

Mount Stuart, NE Face, New Variation

On August 6, 2006, Travis Hammond and I may have done a new variation on Mount Stuart’s NE Face. The route ascended a steep headwall in a corner to the right of the previously established NE Face of False Summit routes. To avoid a dangerous and difficult ascent of the Ice Cliff Glacier, the route was gained by down climbing from the North Ridge notch. This alternative is a quick, safe and effective way to reach all NE facing routes on Mount Stuart in mid to late season.

Grade IV, 5.10

-Craig Gyselinck

Spectre Peak, SW Buttress, “Haunted Wall”, New Route

On August 14, 2006, Mike Layton and Wayne Wallace climbed the 2,100-ft SW Buttress (“Haunted Wall”) of Spectre Peak in the Northern Picket Range. See the feature article, “The Pickets Get a Southern Facelift,” by Mike Layton in this NWMJ issue for details.

Grade IV, 5.9+

On Boola Boola Buttress. © Max Hasson
On Boola Boola Buttress. Enlarge. © Max Hasson
Boola Boola Buttress, “Black Velvet”, New Route

Jens Holsten and I explored the exceedingly featured granite of Boola Boola Buttress on August 16, 2006. Unable to locate the 1984 Jim Yoder route due to a vague and confusing description, we elected to just start climbing. Aiming for a large left-facing corner that dominates the right side of the buttress, we deemed this feature too thin and ascended cracks to its right, just west of Michael Layton’s “Thank You Baby Jesus” route. The first pitch may or may not have been virgin territory, but the rest of our path most certainly was. We found very clean rock down low, culminated by a spicy dihedral on the fourth pitch, and then several rope-lengths of loose scrambling. We surmounted the upper headwall in two exciting pitches, and topped out onto the Dragontail Plateau just as a storm approached.

“Black Velvet”, Grade IV 5.10+ R, 1500ft

-Max Hasson

Liberty Bell, NW Corner, New Route

On August 19, 2006, Michael Baughn and I climbed a route between the North Face Direct and the NW Face of Liberty Bell Mountain. The route may share its final pitch with the NW Face. Our original goal for the day was the North Face route, which ascends diagonally across the face. A short bushwhack from the highway brought us to the face, and a couple hundred feet of 4th class rock led to the base of Red Gully, near where the route is supposed to start. We couldn’t decide where the old route was, but the crack system above looked fun, so we went for it. We roped up in Red Gully to pass a chockstone. From near the top of the gully a pitch of mid-5th class climbing put us at the base of an obvious left-facing corner. This long pitch was 5.9, well protected, and super fun.

Above this was a big ledge at the base of a somewhat blank wall. We found a shallow crack with an old pin and some webbing about half way up that I think was used for a retreat. I hoped the pitch would go free, but most of it was aid. Having only a few RPs, I had to back-clean almost every placement, leaving me largely unprotected. Near the top, the crack became too flaring to place gear, so I pulled a few tricky free moves, aided off a tipped-out, half-way-in cam, and climbed a short, crumbling 5.10 slab to a solid flake to reach a belay. The next pitch required an unprotected 5.8 traverse to another right-facing corner and a fun 5.9 crack up the corner. From the top of this pitch a few hundred feet of class 3 brought us to the summit.

Grade III, 5.10a A2+, bring TCUs and small nuts

-Dan Hilden

Anonymity Towers, First Ascents

On August 19, 2006, Tim Halder and I made the first ascent of North and South Anonymity Tower, about five miles NW of Bonanza Peak. During a traverse of the ridge from Needle Peak to Dark Peak and on to Bonanza, we gained the notch between the two Anonymity Towers and from there, the South Tower required two pitches of low 5th class climbing. The North Tower was a simple scramble.

Grade I, 5.5

-Blake Herrington

Bonanza Peak, NW Ridge, New Route

Climbing the NW Ridge of Bonanza Peak.  © Blake Herrington
Climbing the NW Ridge of Bonanza Peak. Enlarge. © Blake Herrington

Tim Halder and I climbed Bonanza Peak via a new route, following a traverse from the northwest. On August 19, we left the Agnes Creek trail at Swamp Creek and climbed Needle Peak via the North Ridge. We carried over Needle and made the first ascents, of the North and South Anonymity Towers (reported above). Late in the afternoon, we climbed the Dark Glacier and summited Dark Peak as the sun set. Early on the 20th, after a memorable belay-jacket bivi atop the glacier, we began the climb towards Bonanza Peak. The route follows an obvious high ridge crest that connects Dark Peak to the massive bulk of Bonanza. Climbing along the crest is wild and highly variable in quality. Because you’d have to retrace all your steps to retreat, this would not be a good route to begin during unsettled weather. Ten hours of climbing brought Tim and I to Bonanza’s west summit. The tin-can summit register had two entries: 1952 and 2003. From here we ran the knife-edge ridge to the main summit, passed some exciting “au cheval” moves, and solid 5.8 climbing on the last two pitches. An evening descent down the heavily crevassed Mary Greene Glacier ended our technical difficulties just as darkness fell.

Grade V, 5.8

-Blake Herrington

Wedge Mountain, SE Buttress, New Route

On August 22, 2006, B.J. Buck and I made the first recorded ascent of the SE buttress on Wedge Mountain near Leavenworth. Countless variations could be made, but we made every possible effort to climb directly up the center of the buttress. We encountered climbing up to 5.9 though many of the difficulties could be avoided. The rock was often covered in lichen, but short pitches of quality climbing could occasionally be found.

Grade II, 5.9

-Craig Gyselinck


Mount Buckner
Complete SE Ridge - new route
August 5-6, 2006
• Gordy Skoog
• Blake Herrington
Grade IV, 5.8
Mount Stuart

NE Face - new variation
August 6, 2006
• Travis Hammond
• Craig Gyselinck
Grade IV, 5.10

Spectre Peak
SW Buttress, “Haunted Wall” - new route
August 14, 2006
• Michael Layton
• Wayne Wallace
Grade IV, 5.9+
Boola Boola Buttress
“Black Velvet” - new route
August 16, 2006
• Jens Holsten
• Max Hasson
Grade IV, 5.10+
Liberty Bell
NW Corner - new route
August 19, 2006
• Michael Baughn
• Dan Hilden
Grade III, 5.10a A2
Anonymity Towers
North and South Towers - first ascents
August 19, 2006
• Tim Halder
• Blake Herrington
Grade I, 5.5
Bonanza Peak
NW Ridge - new route
August 20, 2006
• Tim Halder
• Blake Herrington
Grade V, 5.8
Wedge Mountain
SE Buttress - new route
August 22, 2006
• B.J. Buck,
• Craig Gyselinck
Grade II, 5.9
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