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North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Range, Castle Peak, North Face

Castle Peak, North Face. Significantly peaking just over one mile south of the boundary from British Columbia, Castle Peak has an impressive 1500-foot north face. This feature, standing in firm granitic stock, displays three prominent buttresses, and beneath the rock aprons are five small remnant glaciers. In unexpected neglect, the face had never been climbed directly. Approaching from Canada, Rick Nolting, Reed Tindall and I spent a day trekking to its base, encountering more than the normal amount of hot weather, flies and brush. On August 1 we left our campsite early and in less than two hours were climbing increasingly steep rock at the flank of an ice remnant. Here was a steep buttress dividing two sections of glacier—an impressive location—and about the only place cracks seemed to continue to the higher portions of the face. A complicated zigzag route, with a sequence of hard moves, proved to be a crux that was a slow beginning. Small overhangs were baffling. Then the route unfolded well. Easier pitches along the buttress, which sometimes became a ramp, took us higher. Difficulties returned in the way of some crack systems, exposed edges and one friction traverse. We concluded by taking the buttress fork west of the summit, and found ourselves finally groping up a steep chimney and couloir system, where the one ice axe we had taken was very essential to manage two leads of very steep snow. More good rock on the northwest edge of the summit formation took us to the top of Castle Peak (11 hours from camp). (NCCS III, F8.)

Fred Beckey