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North America, United States, Washington—Cascade Mountains, Mount Redoubt, Northeast Face

Mount Redoubt, Northeast Face. Those who carefully appraise the big wall challenges of the North Cascades will likely agree that the most serious ice problems exist on Fury, Shuksan, Maude, and Redoubt. Of these, only Redoubt had not seen the crampon mark until 1971. An unsuccessful trek up the jungles of Depot Creek from the Canadian side in 1970 showed the mettle of the frowning, ice-furrowed northeast face. The rock was rotten to the core and the ice was as steep as any I have seen in the Cascades. Then, the Redoubt Glacier was so shattered that we could not even get on it. Heavy winter snows and a late spring provided a rare July opportunity that ordinarily would have been lost after June. When John Rupley and I approached the mountain early on the 23rd from the head of Indian Creek, the heavy seasonal snowpack was evident. Hours later, after a complex glacier route down around buttresses to reach the segment of the glacier leading onto the face, we could see that we might still cross the delicate key bridges. They were melting fast. A rotten snow traverse onto the 50° ice face confirmed our suspicions; sufficient snow cover, but belays were a fantasy. As a token of technique, we did them anyway, and promised ourselves not to slip. About 700 feet higher, we were able to edge onto rock for sideline piton protection. After traversing under a drooping cornice, the route elegantly shot up a narrow ice crest to the upper rock wall. Numerous pitches of surprisingly sound rock took us beyond the worst of an evil-looking ice couloir. Protected by solid pitons, we then traversed out to it for two final, very steep leads. A few axe pull-ups brought us out of trouble just as the sun was setting. Grade IV.