American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington-Cascade Mountains, Burgundy Spire, North Face, Winter Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985

Burgundy Spire, North Face, Winter Ascent. Two months of no climbing have Kit Lewis, Kevin Joiner, and me desperate for adventure. Kit suddenly decides that we should climb Burgundy Spire over the Christmas holidays. December 26 finds us staggering out of the helicopter on the Silver Star Glacier, fumbling to set up Base Camp. Packed and ready to go by noon on the 27th, our only problem seems to be the cold. Our beer is starting to freeze. We plod up the gully leading to Burgundy’s north face. Soon the afternoon sun makes its way onto the face, a real plus in these temperatures. The conditions are typical of winter—lots of new snow, cracks and holds hidden from view. Carefully we search out the route—5.8 in summer—brushing off snow, uncovering holds, and frequently removing our gloves to make difficult moves. The climbing is distinctly alpine and exhilarating. By now the sun has left us, and as it starts to get dark we hurry to pitch our tent on a suitable ledge. In the morning we are treated to a marvelous sunrise: Goode, Dome, and other high peaks are brilliantly lit up against the dark backdrop of an approaching storm. Leaving the tent pitched, we spend the entire day climbing six pitches to the summit, returning to the tent just after dark with the storm upon us. Being well supplied we feel no need to leave a cozy bivouac the following morning, as the storm rages. One more night on the spire (our third), and we descend despite the blizzard.

James Nelson, unaffiliated

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.