American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Cascades, Big Four Mountain, North Face, Spindrift Couloir

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Accounts from the various climbs and expeditions of the world are listed geographically from north to south and from west to east within the noted countries. We start with the Contiguous United States and then cover Alaska in order for the climbs in the Alaskan Wrangell- St. Elias Mountains to segue into St. Elias climbs in Canada.

In last year’s volume we applied our guideline of reporting climbs and expeditions from the calendar year to Patagonia, which resulted in incomplete reportage of the Patagonian season. With this volume we include unreported 1995-’96 accounts in addition to full reports from the 1996-’97 season. Climbers returning from the southern hemisphere can help us in future volumes by submitting accounts as soon as they return home. We also welcome reports of other notable activity from the various Greater Ranges to help us maintain complete records.

All other dates in this section are 1996 unless otherwise noted.

The 1997 volume of the Journal is indebted to the following for their help in making this section possible: Annette Yuan, Chrissy Spinnuzzi, Rolando Garibotti, Elizabeth Hawley, Jorge Casanova, Raul Carnuba, Marcin Kacperek, Evelio Echevarria, Franci Savenc, Jean-Marc Clerc, Joe Reichert, Shota Elisashvili, Vladimir Shataev, Patience Gribble, Andrej Stremfelj, Topher Donahue, Jeff Lowe, Jim Belsar, Bronson MacDonald, Ivar Koller, the crew at Notchtop, Michelle Huerni, Rod Willard, Jeff Hollenbaugh, Harish Kapadia, Szymon Kapeniak, Constantin Lacatusu, Józef Nyka, Lindsay Griffin, Gay Roesch, Gene Ellis, Ashley Simpson, Len Zanni, Lloyd Atheam, Heman Jofre, Mark Richey, Tim Toula, Gordon Banks, Mike Cutter.

Appendices beginning on page 401 list addresses for expedition permits and regulations, conversions of meters to feet, and comparisons and explanations of the various ratings systems.

Big Four Mountain, North Face, Spindrift Couloir. On March 2, Bart Paull and Doug Littauer climbed a new route, the Spindrift Couloir (4,000 feet, IV+ 5.9 95°) on the north face of Big Four Mountain in the Washington Cascades. A full account of the teens’ ascent appears earlier in this journal.

Mount Shuksan, North-Northwest Shoulder. On June 12, Mike Morrison and I climbed what we believe to be a new route on the north-northwest shoulder of Mount Shuksan. The Hitchcock- Nematode route is located roughly between the north face and the northwest couloir. Starting from camp in the upper White Salmon Basin, we ascended the glacier just to the right of the Price/White Salmon Divide and just to the left of the start of the northwest couloir. We angled up and slightly right through the mini-wall, on snow, to gain the ramp leading left to the left-trending couloir behind the lower, separated portion of the shoulder (if followed all the way, the couloir would put one back on the north face). We ascended the moderately steep couloir for about 200 feet until climbing steeply up and out of it on the right, to the shoulder proper. From here the line follows a

narrow gully (the striking part of the climb from the road’s view) of snow, ice and some rock for about five pitches until the gully opens up and the grade becomes less steep. Easier snow continues on the shoulder to its crest, meeting the North Face route on the plateau below the summit pyramid. Gear was carried over and descent made via the Fisher Chimneys. The crux, consisting of steep mixed ground in the gully, is the first couple of pitches of the gully after exiting the couloir. A little ice protection was used, and some rock gear, though it was somewhat difficult to find placements in the gully. Time: six hours from upper basin to plateau.

Overall, the 2,000-foot route is a direct, aesthetically pleasing and interesting mixed climb of some difficulty (comparable in difficulty to the Northwest Face of Forbidden Peak, though the hard bit is shorter, or the North Rib of the Aiguille de Chardonnay). The route is easily visible as a thin white line on the north-northwest shoulder from the road/Mount Baker Ski Area in the right season. It is an early season route owing to the transitory nature of the gully, which appears as a snow- less, dark cleft in summer, and which I assume would be messy.

Chris Young, unaffiliated

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