American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, North Cascades, Thunder Peak, East Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Thunder Peak, East Ridge. Thunder Peak is an 8,800-foot satellite of Mount Logan in the North Cascades. Its 2,000-foot east ridge first caught my eye 15 years ago during a ski ascent of Logan. The ridge features two notches, at 7,500 and 8,000 feet, and rises sharply to the summit. On Labor Day weekend, Silas Wild and I hiked from Fisher Creek to a 5,200-foot lake north of Mount Logan. This is the normal approach to the Banded Glacier. On September 6, from a camp above the lake, we crossed a 7,040-foot col (“Birthday Pass”) to reach the base of the route. We scrambled the first few hundred feet of the ridge, then belayed three pitches to the notch at 7,500 feet. While preparing to rappel, we found rope fibers, evidence of a previous climbing party. Since we saw no other artifacts, we don’t know whether the earlier party retreated from this point or finished the climb.

We rappelled 80 feet into the notch. The crux of the route was a 5.7 pitch out of the notch. From there to the second notch the climbing was mostly low-end fifth on solid rock with excellent views. The second notch had a short rappel and a rotten gully, but the rock improved above it. We reached the summit in about ten hours from camp (Grade III). The descent back to camp was uneventful until the last few feet of moraine. There Silas was caught and partially buried by a rock avalanche. Miraculously, his only injuries were bruises, a small gash on his leg and a broken wrist. He was able to start hiking the next day, and after another night on the trail, reached Colonial campground early the following morning.

Lowell Skoog

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