Mt. Hardy, The Disappearing Staircase. It was amazing that a feature as compelling as the northeast buttress of Mt. Hardy could have not been climbed by 2001. Perhaps it was its perceived isolation, since it is almost 10 miles from the road to its base via the Pacific Crest Trail. However, the summit is less than a mile from the North Cascades Highway, and a direct cross-country approach is mild by Cascades standards, due to its position east of the crest.
On August 19 Dan Aylward and I climbed the northeast buttress in a 21-hour round trip from the car, which we left at the Easy Pass trailhead. A thousand feet of moderate climbing along the edge of the prominent gully splitting the lower apron led to the steep upper headwall. The six upper pitches were, for the most part, directly up the buttress crest. The final two involved a traverse 40 feet to the right after a blank face forced us off the direct line. An additional 800 feet of moderate climbing on an elegant knife-edge ridge led directly to Mt. Hardy’s 8,080-foot summit. The route was climbed hammerless. Aid was necessary for cleaning, but the second was able to follow the aid section free (IV 5.10c A1). Photographs and a topo are available at the website http://www.saarch.com/forrest/hardyfull.htm