North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Nooksack Cirque Icewall

Publication Year: 1974.

Nooksack Cirque Icewall. Once described as the “deepest, darkest, coldest hole” in the North Cascades, the Nooksack Cirque offers many short ice climbs of a high standard. In early September, Dusan Jagersky and I climbed the biggest ice face in the cirque: a 1200-foot jewel rising in a concave arc of steepness from 45° to 55°. We had difficult ice climbing in the East Nooksack Glacier just to reach the face’s base, about midway along Jagged Ridge from Cloudcap Peak. To gain the face proper, we climbed a 100-foot ice hose, vertical for several feet in its hardest section. We picked an obvious ice rib up the face, one of several rising in parallel lines. Remarkably, the ribs were occasionally bisected by small crevasses which made excellent belay platforms. I was hit on the arm by a falling rock in mid-face, but the ascent was otherwise straightforward front-pointing on good ice. At the top of the wall, the last pitch exceeded 55°; we finished in a narrow, twisting, Eiger-like gully. To get off, we traversed over Shuksan in circuitous fashion to Lake Ann.

James Wickwire