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North America, United States, Washington-Cascade Mountains, Johannesburg Mountain, Northeast Rib, Western Rib Variation, Winter Ascent

Johannesburg Mountain, Northeast Rib, Western Rib Variation, Winter Ascent. Steve Mazzioli and I made the first winter ascent of this 5000-foot-high spur in early February. We ascended a thousand feet of honeycomb ice to a snow bowl, then wallowed through a 70° snow-covered forest to the crest of the rib. After some easy mixed climbing, we dug a snow-cave bivy about halfway up the buttress. The trip was complicated when I dropped our only cooking pot down the buttress before dinner, and then spent the evening vomiting. Steve solved our first problem by figuring out that it is possible to melt snow in a plastic cup over flame provided that the cup is kept at a certain crucial distance from the heat. The next morning I felt well enough to continue. Wonderful mixed ground on the crest of the buttress led us to a huge cornice perched on a horizontal knife-edged arête—we were forced to use the “you jump east, I’ll jump west” belay system here. On reaching rock, we rappelled into a couloir on the right, and followed snow to the summit. We traversed down crumbling rime on the east ridge, and reached the Cascade-Johannesburg col after dark. We descended the couloir to the valley the next morning.

William Pilling