American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

United States, Cascades: First Ascent of the N. Face of Mt. Baker

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1949

Cascades: First Ascent of the N. Face of Mt. Baker. No route on Mt. Baker between the Cockscomb on the N. E. ridge and the Roman Wall on the W. side had been ascended prior to 7 August 1948, when Fred Beckey, Ralph Widrig and Dick Widrig scaled a route facing approximately N. N. W. After crossing the badly crevassed Coleman Glacier, the trio climbed a crusted névé arête to 9600 ft. with crampons. Here a large ice wall blocked the route, the angle varying between 60 and 80 degrees. Beckey chopped steps for about three hours and used six ice pitons for safety. Only once was a natural belay safe—in a peculiar ice cavern. Above the wall, the angle dropped to about 45 degrees, but a layer of dangerous loose snow had to be scraped away and steps chopped in the blue ice beneath. The pointed and chisel-shaped ice pitons, barbed, proved better than the Army tubular type. Near the summit, a leftward traverse between two giant schrunds on a very steep face provided an exit from the arête, which was cut off from the summit dome by a schrund series. The ascent from Kulshan Cabin took ten hours. The steeply pitched sides of the arête make for terrific exposure on the difficult ice wall.

F. B.

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