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North America, Canada, Northwest Territories, North Cascades, Slesse Mountain, East Face

Slesse Mountain, East Face. Slesse Mountain (8,002') is a dark fang of granodiorite standing in a spectacular alpine environment. Dave Edgar and I were privileged to make the first ascent of the awesome east face in July, 1997. The route (VI 5.9+ A3+, 23 pitches) begins in the center of the face from the head of a pocket glacier and terminates at a notch just short of Slesse’s summit. The climb required nine days, with each bivy requiring a portaledge. Twenty-three belay bolts and 30 rivets were placed. Free climbing shoes and a modem wall rack are required. An impressive moment occurred when we watched the pocket glacier beneath us rip out and run into the valley below. The climb is a little run out in places. There was some big excitement when Dave took a 50-foot tumbler. It was quite the show: a big scream, then yellow-and-red Gore-tex blending together as he bounced off a few ledges. The wild thing was his only pro for the last 30 feet—the piece that stopped him—was a short knifeblade in a diagonal seam that wasn’t fully driven. It bent at a 70° angle. Luckily, it held.

Sean Easton, Canada