Ski mountaineering in the Three Sisters, Oregon. Photo © Kevin Grove.
Ski mountaineering in the Three Sisters, Oregon. Photo © Kevin Grove.

  Issue 6, Summer 2009  



In recent years alpine climbing in the Washington Cascades has become less exploratory. First ascents are still being made but less frequently. However, speed ascents and enchainments have become more popular... ” —Gordy Skoog and Colin Haley, The American Alpine Journal, 2003, Vol. 45, Issue 77

In the six years since that statement appeared in the AAJ, a Northwest climber could be forgiven for thinking that it was a misprint. But it wasn’t. Between 1997 and 2002, the AAJ printed no more than three new routes a year in the Cascades. Seven were recorded in 2003. But after that something changed.

In 2004, the first year of publication of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal (NWMJ), the AAJ published 22 new routes in Washington. The more comprehensive NWMJ chronicled 36 new climbing and skiing routes that year. Since then, the NWMJ has recorded over 30 new routes of various kinds every year, including those in this year’s journal. Exploratory climbing in the Cascades has taken off.

What happened? Answering that question would be an interesting project for some alpinist-cum-sociologist. New blood is certainly part of the story. But I think there has also been a cultural change.

My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that new social media, particularly web-based forums, have helped energize and consolidate the Northwest mountaineering community. CascadeClimbers.com, the most active on-line forum for Northwest climbers, launched late in 2000. Turns-all-year.com, which plays a similar role for ski mountaineers, made its debut in early 2001.

After growing for a few years to critical mass, these and other forums began to change the way that mountaineers meet, exchange ideas, learn about conditions, and swap stories. The Northwest Mountaineering Journal emerged in response to that, and the energy level in the Northwest mountaineering community has stayed high ever since.

This issue continues the NWMJ’s tradition of diverse coverage of the mountaineering scene. Alan Kearney and Eric Wehrly describe big new alpine climbs in the North Cascades, while David Whitelaw lifts the veil on Squire Creek Wall, the most mysterious dome of granite in the Darrington area. This issue also contains feature stories about mountain rescue, bicycle mountaineering, peak bagging, skiing, and light-and-fast enchainments. Finally, the Short Reports section records all the new climbing and skiing routes that the editors have tracked down this year.

—Lowell Skoog, editorial team leader

Issue 6 Notes
Editorial Team
Steve Firebaugh
Alex Krawarik
Matt Perkins
Rad Roberts
Lowell Skoog
Steve Smith
Curt Veldhuisen
Gary Yngve
Aaron Zabriskie
Special Thanks

The editors would like to thank the folks at CascadeClimbers.com, both for the resource that they provide to the larger community and the special forum used by the NWMJ team for collaboration.

The editors also extend special thanks to Ralph Bodenner, who supports the wiki used by our team to manage the hundreds of individual items that go into the journal each year.