inkhouse Peak, NW Ridge, Previously Unreported Route
Thinking it might be a new route, Blake Herrington, Dan Hilden and Gordy Skoog climbed the NW Ridge of Hinkhouse Peak, near Washington Pass, in August 2007. In the summit register they found a record of a July 2002 climb of the route by Geof Childs and Alan Millar. In an e-mail, Geof Childs wrote: “The route appears as an unmissable series of semi-independent buttresses as seen from the Cutthroat Lake trail. We walked the trail until immediately opposite the lowest buttress, hopped rocks across the creek, and scrambled the initial few hundred feet on the left until reaching the true crest of the ridge. We stayed right along the spine after that. I recall sections of loose rock and trees interspersed with sections of fun scrambling and a few attention-getting moves of 5th class climbing over pleasing exposure. The face above the highest notch provides the best rock (5.7) leading eventually to the summit.” Childs feels fairly certain that the route had been climbed before he and Millar did it.
Lost Marbles Couloir, Ski Descent
Starting from a stuck car at 3 a.m. on January 24, 2007, Pete Hirst, Eric Wehrly and I skied two miles of the Cascade River Road to reach Sibley Creek Road. Five more miles to 3,600 ft—first light and the end of the road. I knew my plans for the day were big, perhaps too big. We were aiming for the top of a mystery gash I spotted on the USGS topo on the NE side of the Triad (and this was just our approach route). The snow had a nice crust that made skinning very fast.
We were ecstatic at the high point, given the incredible views. Now, where’s that gash? The topo says it should be dead ahead in the direction of Early Morning Spire. Once above where we should find it, the couloir was obvious with huge walls. But we couldn’t see past the corner where it turns. We decided to have a look. I made several turns on killer crust. Around the corner were a roll and a couloir that just went on for days.
The whole couloir was filled with avy debris from Tuesday’s rain, but I still loved it for its outrageous position and views. After skiing the couloir, we cancelled all other objectives due to terrible conditions. Besides, we would have been reclimbing Lost Marbles Couloir after dark if we had tried any antics in the cirque. In April I returned with Ross Peritore and found the couloir in perfect condition (photos below).
Mount Deception, NE Chute, Ski Descent
In the wee hours of April 15, 2007, Phil Fortier and I embarked westward to explore slopes above the Dungeness River in the Olympics. Our eight-mile hike to Royal Basin greeted us with beautiful weather and a consistent snowpack. Dust over crust in the basin became boot-top blower on our route, the NE Chute. What is this? Light, fluffy powder on the Olympic Peninsula in mid-April!? The route became icy where it was more steep and exposed. The ridge to the summit held copious snow.
From the top, we made a quick schuss down the ridge to put us at the notch. Phil peered over first. I joined him, noting that I didn’t like the way the powdery inch on top uniformly slid from under my skis. I took a turn and my feelings about it didn’t change. I wasn’t concerned so much about avalanches as about the slightly unpredictable snow surface. I sidestepped the first bit until I felt better about the snow, then made some steep turns on lovely edge-holding chalky snow. Phil followed. We returned on the ferry, but my mind stayed floating in the clouds, tangled in a web of Deception.
Mount Mystery, E/NE Face, Ski Descent
On April 20, 2007, I joined Sky Sjue for a return trip to the Northern Olympics accompanied by Mike Zaretzke. We left Seattle just after 3 a.m. and drove south around Puget Sound then north to the Dungeness River. We started hiking toward Royal Basin shortly after 6 a.m., switching to skis after about six miles on foot. From the basin we climbed to a saddle just east of Mount Deception. From here we could look across Deception Basin to the saddle east of Mount Mystery that we needed to gain, but our intended ski route was hidden behind the left skyline. After descending into Deception Basin and climbing to the saddle, our line on the E/NE Face came into view. We switched from skinning to booting as the slope steepened to 40 degrees.
Mike stopped at the saddle due to fatigue and changing conditions on the east facing slopes. Shortly thereafter the weather moved in with light winds and snow. About half-way up, the slope flattened out for 100 feet or so above the cliffs separating the basin from the upper face of Mystery. After squeezing through a lightly dusted rock band, the slope steepened and hour-glassed toward the top, reaching close to 50 degrees. The snow became a bit firmer because the upper face is subject to sloughing. At this point I was a bit nervous about skiing the crux. The snow on the upper part of the face showed signs of instability around the rocks. Sky tried to climb the final 20 feet, finally giving up as the snow sloughed off the rocks.
The lower face was almost completely socked in when we began our descent. I sidestepped/slipped, with axe in hand, the upper 50-60 feet. Sky waited as I stowed the axe, then we worked through the rock band and descended the lower face. The windpacked surface was a firm, but held a good edge. Visibility was down to about 100 feet when we returned to the saddle. Rejoining Mike, we enjoyed powder skiing on the north facing slope into Deception Basin. We climbed to the notch east of Mount Deception and retraced our route through Royal Basin to arrive at the car 15 hours after leaving it.
Mount Stuart, Lara Kellogg Memorial Route, New Variation
On April 29, 2007, Dylan Johnson and I climbed a route on the NE Face of Mount Stuart that I believe is a variation on previous routes with two new ice pitches. The first rock band we climbed via a short pitch of WI4. The second rock band had a spectacular free-standing ice pillar, but it looked very difficult (probably WI6) and at risk of collapsing, so we traversed right to join the original route (Mahre-Prater, August 1959) for one pitch. This had a move of aid, and three old pitons. From the top of the aid pitch we traversed back left to the ice line, and climbed the last rock band by a difficult waterfall pitch that I felt was WI6. Above the rock bands we joined the Nelson-Klewin May 1978 route for the middle snowfield and a short step of ice. We diverged from the 1978 route to the right for several hundred feet, and then rejoined it for the final bowls and gullies to the ridge crest (a finish also established by Mahre and Prater in 1958). Although I think our route is only a new variation and not an independent route, the line is aesthetic with challenging ice climbing on Stuart’s cleanest face. We named it in honor of a wonderful friend and excellent climber whom we were fortunate to know. We hope that the Lara Kellogg Memorial Route (Grade IV, WI6, A0) will help carry Lara’s memory to future climbers in the Cascades.
(The opening photo on this page shows Dylan Johnson climbing the LKM route.)
Mount Rainier, Fuhrer Thumb, Ski Descent
On May 13, 2007, Christophe Martin and I skied the Fuhrer Thumb variation on Mount Rainier. Heavy rain fell as we drove through the night to Mount Rainier, or as Christophe said, “Il pleut comme vache qui pisse.” We left Paradise shortly after daybreak and climbed above the clouds on the Fuhrer Finger route. As we began our descent from Point Success, we encountered Colorado skiers Chris Davenport and Ted Mahon ascending with similar plans in mind. (Great minds think alike?) The Thumb was a sweet line for skiing, better than the Finger, since it’s slightly steeper and more sustained. Past observations tell me that the route goes kaput from rockfall quickly, though, even quicker than the Finger. Our climb and descent were completed in about 11 hours round-trip.
- Sky Sjue
Inner Constance, NE Face, Ski Descent
On May 26, 2007, I hiked the road and steep trail to Lake Constance with a friend. Snow started at the lake, and I continued alone up Avalanche Canyon. At the north end of the canyon I was finally able to see the ramp/face that is labeled Route 4 (NE Face) in the Olympic Mountains climbing guide. The route involves a traverse above some lower cliffs and a narrow gully that leads to a ridgeline. By this point the clouds had descended and I was in a whiteout. I also had really bad leg cramps. Reaching the main NE Ridge of Inner Constance, I continued to the end of the snow just below the summit block (7667ft). Worried about soft snow, I had to carefully manage the sloughs I started in a few spots on the way down. Overall the descent turned out to be safer than I anticipated. At the bottom I had the unpleasant experience of struggling to glide down Avalanche Canyon in sticky pollen-covered snow.
Snowfield Peak, summit ski descent
On May 29, 2007, I skied the NW Face of Snowfield Peak from the summit to the Neve Glacier accompanied by Jonathan Karpoff, who descended the route on foot. Leaving our car around 6 a.m., we planned to make a one-day climb of the standard West Ridge route on Snowfield. While skinning up the Neve Glacier toward the summit pyramid, we noticed a ribbon of consistent snow snaking its way up the NW Face directly to the summit. Jon, relatively new to skiing, abandoned his skis at the base of the summit structure. I took mine up just in case. Climbing the face with ice axes but no crampons, we gained a sudden appreciation for the exposure as our route forced us around and above rock bands. The snow conditions varied from good step kicking in soft snow to firm punchy snow and thinly snow-covered icy rocks.
After a long lunch on the summit with spectacular views, Jon down-climbed the face while I rested a bit longer before putting on my skis. The first few turns from the top were unadulterated bliss on a steep snow arête exposed to the NW Face and a much larger void over the East Face. The next couple hundred feet followed a backward “S” route through the rocks. With an axe in my uphill hand, I made cautious turns between the rocks, alternately linking turns and sidestepping through tight gaps. Finally shooting through the last gap, I was free to enjoy silky open corn, which continued to the bottom of the Neve Glacier. The steep but short descent provided a shot of adrenaline that sustained me during the long effort back to the car. After losing the climbers’ trail in the brush above Pyramid Lake, we finally returned to our car (and our beer stashed in the creek) a little after 6 p.m.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next>>
|©2008 Northwest Mountaineering Journal|
|Site design by Steve Firebaugh|