American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Mount Index, North Norwegian Buttress

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

Mount Index, North Norwegian Buttress, Voodoo Proj. Over five days in mid-July Blair Williams, with William Tharpe, Todd Karner, and me, added a steep new route to the North Norwegian Buttress. Voodoo Proj starts 100 yards to the right of the Doorish Route and joins it at the top of the buttress, after eight new pitches. After having difficulties with the moat, we began the first pitch with a green Alien and continued with beaks and RURPs for 100' to the left side of a large, sloping ledge. This pitch combined aid with free climbing up to 5.8. The following day Blair traversed the sloping ledge for 30' before climbing a 10' head-and-beak seam. He then followed a left-leaning expanding crack, requiring blades, arrows, and beaks, before finishing the rope-stretching pitch with an A1 roof. While cleaning this, the crux, pitch, the second removed every piece before the A1 roof with one or two moderate yanks. The third pitch started with runout 5.10 on bad gear, before gaining a 120' dirty seam requiring multiple heads, hooks, and the occasional tied-off baby angle. It ended at a two-bolt belay below a large roof. Determined to minimize drilling, and acting against my recommendation, Blair started up the fourth pitch using a combination of offsets, blades, and arrows. An offset blew 10 feet up, and Blair fell 20' before stopping, upside-down, below the portaledge. Having gained his senses in the fall, he drilled three rivets to bypass loose blocks in the roof and continued for another 100' of moderate nailing. At this point, because of time constraints, Bill, Todd, and I had to rappel, but left Blair a luxurious portaledge camp two pitches below. Over the next three days Blair climbed the remaining four pitches solo, encountering moderate to difficult nailing. The eighth and last pitch, on which he placed two rivets, followed a 20' discontinuous crack to a large brow, and then traversed downward 100' to where he established a bolted belay parallel to the anchors on pitch seven. With threatening skies, Blair opted to airmail all but the portaledge and hardware to the snowfield above Lake Serene. He made four 60m rappels and reached the bergschrund in time to begin the long journey back to the car in a typical Northwest rainstorm. Blair and I feel that Voodoo Proj (VI 5.1 OR A4) provided some of the most challenging and interesting big-wall climbing we have found in the Cascades.

Roger Strong

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