American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Pacific Northwest, Attempts on the N. Face of Mt. Baring

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1952

Attempts on the N. Face of Mt. Baring. Seen in profile from the Stevens Pass Highway E. of Startup, the N. Face of Mt. Baring looks like an enormous overhang. It rises 3800 ft. above Barclay Lake, the starting point for the climb. Dick Burge and I have tried twice, without success, to climb it.

On the first day we established a route on the lower (and easier) 2500 ft. to a point where two parallel ribs consolidate with the upper face. Our route began on the left (E.) rib and then crossed, by way of an obvious ledge just below the point where the ribs merge, to the right one. A nasty 200-ft. climb on a vertical step in this rib brought us to the face proper. Lack of time forced us to return to Barclay Lake and start making plans for a second attempt.

On another week end we bivouacked 1000 ft. above Barclay Lake and climbed to the upper face early the next morning. The direct and only practical route was the one to choose. We climbed for several hours, using pitons for safety almost all the time. At last we reached a ledge 300 ft. below the summit and 150 ft. from a second ledge that leads up to it. Here, blocked by an almost vertical headwall, we could make out three possible routes: (1) a level traverse to the right, which might enable a party to circle the peak and gain the easier W. side; (2) a semi-broken chimney rising from the right end of the ledge, which might enable a party, with the aid of pitons and probably rock anchors, to attain the ledge 150 ft. above; (3) a direct, frontal route up to the higher ledge. We chose the last. There ensued a vertical 40-ft. climb and a 50-ft. traverse to get around an overhang. Both required direct aid. In the next 20 ft. equipment, strength and—almost—desire became insufficient to support further advance. We had gained about 60 ft. of the necessary 150. The fixed rope was removed on the descent.

In all, more than 30 pitons were used, several for direct aid but most for safety. An effort to place a rock-anchor bolt at the highest point failed when the drill broke owing to the extreme hardness of the rock.

P. K. S.

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