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United States, Washington—Cascade Mountains, Mount Index, North Peak, Supercouloir

Mount Index, North Peak, Supercouloir. On February 8, Jim Nelson and I hiked from Lake Serene through a 1360-foot pass to Anderson Creek. Within two hours we were at the base of the west face of the north peak of Index. A couloir, visible from the road, forks at about half height; we chose the right fork but were unprepared for what we found: a partially melted 200-foot tier of blue ice. A third of the way up the 4000-foot route, a large free-standing pillar of ice hung off the second snowfield. We bypassed both of these features to the left through cedar trees. Excellent névé and an occasional belayed ice bulge led to a bivouac in a forest of large trees below the west-face gendarmes. On the second day, we faced the crux: a steep, narrow, 300-foot-high ice smear which drained a hanging couloir above. We used rock protection almost exclusively here, except for two ice screws near the top. More névé with one short step led almost directly to the summit.

Mark Bebie