American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington—Cascade Mountains, Gunsight Peak (Blue Mountain), New Routes on the North and Center Peaks

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1968

Gunsight Peak (Blue Mountain), New Routes on the North and Center Peaks. A six-day trip into the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, near the head of the west fork of Agnes Creek, yielded two fine alpine granite routes on the faces of triple-summited Gunsight Peak, but almost had disastrous consequences resulting from the high water runoff in June, almost a month later than the usual danger period. Four of us lost almost a day in just getting across the south fork of Agnes Creek, finally climbing a slippery log in a thundering canyon with the aid of about six pitons. We then set up a tyrolean traverse from trees at a different location for hauling packs and for the return trip out. In between these exasperating episodes I was chased by a black bear. To make matters even more hectic, after meeting Leif Patterson a short time later on the trail, we had walked only a few minutes and encountered another bear running down the trail at us. A shout and some frantic running dispersed all three of us, and needless to say, we felt surrounded by bears. Climbing up the slopes of Icy Creek took us to a lovely rock ridge above timberline, high alongside the edge of the Chickamin Glacier. While two of our group repeated some standard climbs, Patterson and I climbed the northwest face of the north peak of Gunsight on June 19, a project that required 35 pitons, and a good many of these on an overhanging lead to the north summit ridge. Our other new climb was on the following day, when we pushed a fine free route on the southwest face of the central peak (ten pitons) where the granite was magnificent. The unusual hot weather broke on the hike out, and it began to rain as we discovered that the log ford was impossible. I was swept off my feet twice in overflow water, just to prove this out. By a stroke of luck two of our group spotted a new log crossing. Patterson got dunked going first across the tyrolean, and nightfall halted the project with two on each bank. Bears fortunately did not bother to visit us that night, and a blazing fire and hot tea made us forget our wet clothes.

Fred Beckey

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