ount Shuksan, NW "Arayete", New Route
On August 6, 2007, Matt Alford and I climbed an enjoyable rock route on the northwest side of Mount Shuksan. The route follows the crest of a fine arête for nine pitches to the summit of a prominent horn above the White Salmon Glacier. I had first seen this arete at least twelve years ago while descending the glacier and thought it both beautiful and improbable due to a lack of features. Ever since, the idea of climbing it had been knocking about in my head. Though dirty at times, the position is incredible, the rock is solid and every pitch is sustained for its grade. The rock (greenschist) is horizontally banded and the rock is just littered with positive jugs and pockets that allow moderate climbing up imposing walls.
We left the car at first light and reached the base of Winnies Slide four hours later. A short descent led to the base of the arête. A significant shrund made accessing the rock a problem. We rappelled off a bollard to reach a ramp on the left of the arête. A good ledge system on the right side could probably have been used as well.
Juggy face climbing followed by 100 feet of 5.8 friction lead up the crest of the low angle arête with some runout. A second short easy pitch led to a much steeper wall. The third pitch begins at the base of a steep blank wall. Heading out right, the apparently blank wall has a few narrow seams obscured by lichen that allow several solid pins. At a crux section, a wide stem, a small undercling, and a reach for the crest of the arête, leads to a beautiful wall of clean, orange rock. The fourth pitch was the best of the climb, awesome juggy 5.7 climbing on near vertical rock with great gear. At the imposing upper arête, the climbing looks improbable but once again the rock offered positive holds. Staying about 40 feet left of the arête leads straight up the wall on 5.7 rock to a belay in an alcove. A grungy 5.8 roof leads to super-featured 5.6 rock on the crest of the steep arête for a full ropelength. Matt quickly led another long pitch of fun corners to a fixed pin belay at a small roof. A final short pitch up clean slabs ended with an easy arête directly to the summit. Unreal, the route unfolded far better than we could have imagined!
An easy scramble down the backside led to the Upper Curtis Glacier. After following some mountain goat tracks we picked up the boot track leading back down the mountain.
Grade III, 5.9
Cutthroat Wall, “The Perfect Crime,” New Route
While searching out the infamous Golden Ramp Route in the cirque south of the Cutthroat Lake trailhead, I encountered a featured buttress of slabs and roofs that had been mentioned to me by my friend Bill “BillyGoat” Lewis as potentially a good new climb. Max Hasson of Leavenworth met me at the trailhead on August 10, 2007, and we approached the climb by following the old roadbed/trail west for five minutes before heading south, uphill into the forest. From the far right side of the wall, we roped-up and climbed two pitches up and left following cracks and ramps along the line of least resistance.
The third pitch begins with easy, runout face climbing before following a long crack up and right, around the rightmost roof, and up to a small belay ledge. The fourth pitch follows a steep hand crack off the belay before traversing right across an overhung face of orange granite and heading straight up finger and hand cracks to a comfortable ledge on the far right side of the buttress. From this belay, the last pitch climbs rightward to the base of a long straight-in crack which gradually narrows from four inches to one inch and leads to the top of the wall. All pitches were between 50 and 60 meters and the rock was excellent, but did not really provide a compelling “line” on the first two pitches. From the top of the climb one can scramble to the summit of Peak 6978ft, the high-point between Early Winters and Cutthroat Creeks. Billygoat Bluff is the informal name I used to describe the NW facing rampart on this peak.
Grade III, 5.9
The Snout, “Smelling Salts,” New Route
Eric Gratz and I spent August 25, 2007, near Washington Pass on The Snout. Three weeks earlier, Blake Herrington and I climbed a new route in the obvious dihedral, but we were originally aiming for an obvious splitter visible from below. Eric and I started up to a small roof split by a perfect finger crack (5.10). The wide-crack second pitch was as good as expected, offering a range of sizes from three inches to five inches, with well spaced rests. Above, one more enjoyable pitch (5.8) led to third-class terrain, which we skipped in favor of the great bouldering we observed in the cirque on the approach.
Cutthroat Wall, “Easy Getaway,” New Route
On August 29, 2007, Dan Hilden and I climbed a route on the NW facing buttress of Peak 6978ft, south of the Cutthroat Lake trailhead, an aspect we informally dubbed “Billygoat Bluff.” We found a fun route on perfect granite with a variety of well-protected climbing. After approaching SSW from the Cutthroat Lake Trailhead, we reached a large flat granite patio near the right edge of the buttress. We scoped out a series of clean-looking dihedrals and roofs and were able to stay close to our intended line. The first pitch alternated between steep bulges and clean ramps. The second pitch followed a prominent orange corner before stepping right to belay. A decades-old rusted piton was found on Pitch 2, so the route may have been climbed years ago. Pitches 3 and 4 trend up and right, leading to an overhang below the “Zebra Corner,” a prominent black-and-white striped dihedral. After climbing Zebra Corner, we moved right across the top of a tenuous looking, yet solid, block. The next pitch goes around a roof on an undercling, ascends a chimney, and leads to a tree belay below a long corner crack. We finished through a bulging slot/offwidth directly above this corner. Climbing rightward would also be possible, to the extreme edge of the buttress and finish up the splitter cracks on the last pitch of “The Perfect Crime.” This route saw at least two repeats, has several variations available, and was well-liked. Each pitch contains a move or two of 5.9 or 5.10a, but none is very sustained. The route protects easily with a standard rack. To descend, scramble to the flat terrace atop the wall, rappel 20m into a giant gully, and descend the gully and traverse back right to the base of the route.
Grade III, 5.10a
(The opening photo on this page shows Blake Herrington climbing on Cutthroat Wall.
Mount Triumph, SW Ridge, New Route
On September 2, 2007, Wayne Wallace and I climbed Mount Triumph via a new route on the SW Ridge, descending the NE Ridge. We approached from the third Thornton Lake to a col south of Thornton Peak, dropped down and traversed northward to the South Face, and climbed a steep moss gully to the SW Ridge. The sky was turbulent and threatening a mega-storm to hit at any minute. All the peaks had big lenticulars forming, and the thick black wave-like pattern of clouds above our heads shouted “hurry up and climb be-otch!”
The climb started off with a few pitches up steep slab. The rock was solid with lots of good holds and fun! Pro was scant, providing a few moments of nervousness. The rain started, then stopped. The ridge topped out about 1100 feet up, where a level section led to the final summit headwall. Wayne had a steep lead which looked scary but turned out to be a super-fun 5.8 pitch. I got the last pitch, traversing some shitty gendarmes and up to the summit. A wall of rain headed our way, but somehow it cut north at the last second and spared us a slippery and scary descent. We only got a few drops the whole day and managed to get in a great, fun climb on an awesome mountain.
Our cramponless hike out wasn’t a great idea, but I’m here, so I guess we didn’t need them! We got back to the car at 7:30 p.m. having left camp at 5:45 a.m., which is funny since the 1500-foot route in the impending rain took only three hours of hurried climbing to the top!
Grade III, 5.8
Mount Goode, East ("Megalodon") Ridge, New Route
Sol Wertkin and I approached Mount Goode from Rainy Pass on September 5, 2007. After leaving the North Fork Bridge Creek trail at an obvious clearing before Grizzly Creek, we climbed to the toe of a clean-looking arête that descends NE from the main East Ridge. We scrambled a pitch of 5th class at dusk then bivied on a bench below the technical climbing. The next morning we began simul-climbing the arête. After surmounting the 8,200-ft tower where the arête joined the SE extension of the ridge (labeled Memaloose Ridge on the USGS topo), we made a 50-meter rappel. From there, running belays along the crest provided climbing up to 5.8. At the headwall of the SE Peak, a direct line on the crest yielded two pitches of 5.10 crack climbing and an exciting bit of stemming on tenuous blocks. From the SE Peak we skirted through the icy moat to the final gendarmes. The crux of the day came on the descent into Black Tooth Notch, the last major gap before the summit. Sol down-led an overhanging pitch of 5.10 above the Goode Glacier. I followed using beta that Sol shouted up to me, and after a few more pitches of easier climbing we reached the summit. Sol dubbed the route “Megalodon Ridge” after a sea-monster with curving fins and sharp teeth. We bivied atop the peak that night and the next day descended to Park Creek and hiked back to our car. (For photos and more details, see feature story.)
Grade IV+, 5.10.
Amphitheatre Mtn, “Unauthorized Squirrel,” New Route
Allison King and I spent five days in the Pasayten Wilderness enjoying warm sunny days and excellent granite crack climbing. On September 11, 2007, from a camp at Upper Cathedral Lake, we followed a system of cracks on the central buttress of the North Face of Amphitheatre Mountain known as The Minaret. We began on an obvious clean hand crack on the lower right side of The Minaret. After passing a few precariously stacked blocks, we followed a right-facing corner for a full pitch to a point where the wall steepened. The next two pitches both began with excellent crack climbing but included lower-angle slabs and blocky ground unexpected from below. An exciting undercling around a small roof led into a chimney that took us to the sharp peak of the Minaret. From there, we made a wild traverse across the narrow ridge connecting the Minaret with the summit of Amphitheatre Peak.
The route name was inspired by a police report Allison and I remembered from our time as students at Western Washington University: “An unauthorized squirrel was found in the Wilson Library. The animal appeared to be hiding in a typewriter.” -The Western Front, May 18, 2007
Grade II+, 5.10a
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