American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Northern Pickets

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

Northern Pickets. A party of eight Mountaineers climbed in this area during mid-summer, hiking in by way of Hannegan Pass, Easy Ridge, and Perfect Pass to a base camp on Challenger Arm, the ridge running northeast from Mount Challenger. The first climb was a new route on the east face of Challenger on July 30 by Jack Ardussi, Roger Jackson, Stan Jensen, Cal Magnusson (leader), Steve Marts, Don Mech, Don Schmechel, and Bob Swanson. Jackson and Marts made the first ascent of a sharp spire on the east side of Challenger and called it Waiting Tower as they climbed it while waiting for the rest of the party to get up the first lead (class 5) on Mount Challenger. The following day two new routes were climbed on the east face of Crooked Thumb. Jackson, Jensen, Marts, and Schmechel climbed directly up the east face from the glacier (class 3-4). Ardussi, Magnusson, Mech, and Swanson climbed a diagonal gully and chimney system (class 5) to the first notch north of the summit, and then traversed the ridge and ledges to the summit. On August 1, four of the party climbed Phantom Peak while the other four climbed West Peak of Challenger. A nearly severed rappel sling was found on West Peak left two weeks earlier by the first-ascent party. It was 5/16-inch nylon with a single loop around a sharp rock horn. The last man on that rappel had come close to disaster. The next day all but Jackson climbed the Middle Peak of Challenger for a first ascent. The next six days were spent in the tents listening to the rain pounding on and through the walls. After four days, Jackson, Jensen, Marts, and Swanson packed up in the rain and headed out because in their two-man tents they could not even sit up comfortably without touching the walls and getting wet. We other four were in a four- man tent keeping fairly dry and so decided to stay in hopes of better weather and more climbing. The rain let up August 8, and camp was moved up to the col between West and Middle Peaks of Challenger. The following morning with clear skies Ardussi, Magnusson, Mech, and Schmechel headed south to try for two first ascents. The first peak (7082 feet) lies on the ridge south of Phantom between Goodell Creek and Picket Creek and was named Old Brownie by the late Dr. Warren Spickard (See 1959 Mountaineer). The summit was reached at noon by a route up the north ridge over the top of the adjacent peak (7020 feet). An easy but long descent with bivouac was followed southwest to the lower slopes of Pioneer Ridge. Neither peak had any evidence of previously being climbed. The return trip from Perfect Pass to Hannegan Pass was made by a new route over the top of Mineral Mountain and across the east shoulder of Ruth Mountain. It turned out to be considerably more difficult than expected, with brushy cliffs on the west side of Mineral Mountain. The rainy weather returned the last day making the steep slopes quite treacherous, but it could not dampen the spirits of the highly successful party returning from the Northern Pickets.

Cal Magnusson, Mountaineers

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