American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington-Cascades, Mounts Triumph and Despair, Winter Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987

Mounts Triumph and Despair, Winter Ascents. The winter of 1986 was an unpredictable one in the Cascades. During the last two weeks of February, six feet of new snow were followed by torrential rains and spring-like clearing. On March 1, Mark Bebie, Brian Sullivan and I skied the Thornton Lakes road and an old logging spur leading up Damnation Creek. From the head of the creek, the effect of the previous two weeks of weather was obvious. Avalanche fractures were visible everywhere, and we stumbled across two miles of debris to reach our campsite at Triumph Pass. The next morning we cramponed up thenorthwest shoulder of Triumph, then climbed a steep snow ramp to the south ridge, placing an occasional snow fluke or picket to combat the exposure. Brian and I admired our corniced and fluted surroundings as Mark struggled up the crux of the route, a glazed chimney of loose rock. One easier pitch of mixed ground brought us to the summit. We stomped out platforms and spent a long lunch gazing at the winter spectacle of the Picket Range. Later that afternoon we moved our camp to an avalanche-choked lake below Mount Despair. On the morning of March 3, Mark and I climbed perfect frozen snow up the southeast face of the peak. The clouds and wind were increasing, so we began a careful descent after just a few minutes on the summit. We rejoined Brian back at camp and started the long trip back to the car. The skiing was terrible, but the pleasure of having visited such wild and remote country made up for it.

Lowell Skoog

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