American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Vesper Peak, North Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1970

Vesper Peak, North Face. Although this face has some of the finest granite in Washington, it will never light anyone’s fire. Broken by a large ledge system two-thirds of the way up, this 1200-foot face lacks any “classic” lines. Between the Vesper Glacier below and this ledge are many equally good routes waiting to be done. Above the ledge are two slabs, the east one rising at an angle of 65° or more to the summit, and a lower-angle one to the west. Here the future will be determined by ethics, since cracks are rare. On August 3, Mike Heath, B. J. Heath, Tom Oas and I left the glacier between Vesper and Big Four Mountain near the lowest point of the face and climbed up for four leads (F5 to F8). We scrambled several hundred feet and belayed one lead (F6) to the scrub tree at the lower right-hand corner of the high-angle slab. Next we climbed a small overhang (F4) and up and right along a heather ledge to its end. We ascended up and right to the edge of the slab on broken blocks (F7). The next two leads are the crux of the climb. The first goes up with poor protection to a belay bolt (F7). The next lead is about 70 feet with weak protection (F8) and generally follows the west edge of the slab to the summit. Jim Langdon, who we later discovered had traversed out onto this upper slab in 1968, climbed further to the left and encountered similar problems on these last two leads. Our approach to the peak was via the Sunshine Mine trail and over Headlee Pass, and then over the north ridge of Vesper to the glacier. Ascent from the glacier took 6 hours and required about 20 pitons and several nuts. NCCS II or III, F8.

Bill Sumner, unaffiliated

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