American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, New Climbs in the Northern Pickets

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1962

New Climbs in the Northern Pickets. A party of five, consisting of Frank de Saussure, Tony Hovey, Don Keller, and Joan and Joe Firey climbed in this seldom visited range in late July and early August. Crooked Thumb was ascended via a rotten gully from Luna basin and along its entire north ridge, joining the original ascent route near the summit block. Only one roped pitch was encountered on the ridge other than the short summit lead. All that remained from the 1940 ascent was a rusted can lid and small cairn. Return to camp was by way of the west side of the Crooked Thumb-Challenger ridge, swinging completely around Mount Challenger on an easy, pleasant snow traverse.

The east peak of Mount Fury was climbed via the southeast glacier from a camp on the McMillan Creek side of the Luna-Fury ridge, and the half- mile traverse from the east peak to the west peak was completed by Don Keller and Joan and Joe Firey in 4½ hours, requiring seven rope pitches up and down the three main ridge points. The 1958 first ascent party’s register was found intact. The traverse back to the east peak consumed another three hours.

The south ridge of Mount Challenger was climbed, approaching the Crooked Thumb-Challenger notch from the west, due to the hazard and unpleasantness of the Luna side of the ridge. This proved to be a pleasant, airy climb, with only three or four rope pitches and one piton on the west side of the summit block required. All Northern Picket climbing seems to be on unconsolidated rock with great hazard from rolling rock, hence ridge running is considerably safer than any face or gully routes.

Joan Firey, The Mountaineers

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.