American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, North Face of Mount Maude

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1958

North Face of Mount Maude. On June 16, 1957 John Rupley, Fred Beckey, Herb Staley, and I made the first ascent of the 4000-foot wall on the north side of Mount Maude, a prominent 9100-foot peak in the North Cascades, situated between the headwaters of the Entiat and Chi- wawa rivers, west of Lake Chelan. A cirque of three peaks, Mount Maude, Seven Fingered Jack, and Mount Fernow, presents a great castellated barrier headwall at the source of the Entiat River. A reconnaissance the previous year had led us to conclude that the long rock- and ice-face would probably be a climb of considerable technical difficulty. Because the rock of the area is of very poor quality and often extremely loose, we hoped to make use of a long 2000-foot ice sheet that rises from the glacier in the middle of the face to the summit.

On the 15th we drove past Entiat to the end of the Entiat road and began the 15-mile walk to the start of the ascent. After following the Entiat River trail about eight miles, we took a fork to the left and hiked in pitch darkness some three miles to camp near the end of the trail. To save time and effort we decided to walk to the col between Spectacle Buttes and the southeast side of Mount Maude, descend from Ice Lakes onto the slopes adjacent to the face, and climb upwards to the glacier on the face. This would be more direct than following the Entiat River to the meadows at its head and would avoid bushwhacking. Nearly 3000 feet of ascent of slopes and steep snow to Ice Lakes made us wonder if we had picked the right route, but our doubts vanished when we came over the crest and found nearby our long-sought face. The weather was matchless, and the cool breeze dried the sweat from our tired faces. Spectacle Buttes and the large cirque-faces of Seven Fingered Jack and Fernow were resplendent in their early summer beauty. Straining, you could just see at the end of the long Entiat River valley the shaded depression of the Columbia River, 50 miles away.

We descended steep snow-slopes to a snowfield leading upwards to the glacier. Somewhat later we stood at the bergschrund between the glacier and the final ice sheet rising some 2000 feet above. Prepared, by views of the face from the valley, for very steep and perhaps difficult ice and snow climbing, we set to. Fred led over the schrund and on up an ice groove. It was steep, yes, but not nearly as bad as expected, and with excellent snow conditions and good weather we made rapid progress. Fred and John were on the lead rope and Herb and I followed, belaying frequently. Crampons helped immensely, although there was no ice exposed as would have been the case later in the season. The slope averaged from 40° to 45°, and near the top it was over 45°. It was a long, careful climb, but finally Fred kicked steps up the last steep slope. Soon we were all on the summit, basking in the sunlight and admiring the Glacier Peak area. After a leisurely rest we descended the easy east slopes and retraced our steps back the 15 miles to the car.

Don G. Claunch

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