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North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Mount Formidable, West Face

Mount Formidable, West Face. On September 6, Stim Bullitt and I made the first ascent of the west face of this picturesque but remote mountain in the North Cascades. We found the rock sounder and the climbing more enjoyable here than on the north ridge (which we descended). In approaching this mountain we tried to follow the instructions described under “Approach Variation” to the North Ridge (Cascade Alpine Guide) but were unable to recognize the point where the Middle Fork of the Cascade River should be crossed. Consequently, we travelled too far up stream and reached the sheltered alpine basin at 6200 feetvia a spur further east than the one pioneered in 1958. Though feasible, this spur is a Cascade “horrorshow” and should be avoided. The descent via the 1958 spur was comfortable, as we stayed almost exclusively on animal trails. Since the proper crossing point onto the spur is obscured by heavy forest, we attached a six-inch aluminum disc to a small fir tree where the departure from the trail should begin and the river can be crossed (about 100 feet beyond this marker is a five-foot cut through a fallen cedar tree and a 90° bend in the trail). About 150 feet upstream is an animal trail leading uphill. Normally, this climb involves three days. Proper route-finding will make this trip a pleasant two. Class 3 and 4. Grade II.

Alex Bertulis