American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington—Cascades, Mount Index, Middle Peak, West Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Mount Index, Middle Peak, West Face. This ascent was made by Don Gordon (Claunch) and me on June 12 with a planned bivouac on the descent about 600 feet below the summit. The lower portions of this gigantic face, about 2800 feet high, had been attempted by several parties, including one with Gordon. His discreet choice of the proper entry into a key gully kept us from becoming lost in a nearly vertical jungle of brush and trees. It is an area that will probably never be subjected to the logger or visited by the recreational climber. Any error of course in the lower 1000 feet will likely result in the climber’s abandoning the route. We noted the tendency of certain ramparts to open favorably and the trend of ribs that continually veered to the right. Marking our route carefully with bright crepe paper, we climbed upward, roped even in the bushy-cliff areas, and eventually found ourselves high on the face. The most dangerous section was a steep rock wall, very rotten, that I led with the precaution of two pitons for protection. Further on, Gordon had to lead a vertical area where he clambered jungle-style up overhanging alders. In between and farther up, there were some sections of excellent and enjoyable rock climbing. On the final wall we climbed left of the deep chimney, which appeared to be full of loose rock, found one very interesting slab pitch and continued on for several leads to the ridge curving to the false summit and then on to the true top. This was the first direct ascent of the middle peak of Index and the only climb of it since Pete Schoening and I had traversed to its summit from the north peak eight years ago.

Fred Beckey

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