Mt. Blackhorn, Northwest Couloir. On September 27 I made what I believe was the first ascent of Blackhorn Mountain’s Northwest Couloir. Mike King flew Don Serl, Dan Aylward, and me from Bluff Lake to the base of the couloir on the evening before, and we quickly fell asleep on the scree. When we woke at 4 a.m. it felt unsettlingly warm, and we debated whether the couloir would be safe. Don and Dan decided that it wasn’t worth the risk, but I decided to head up with a minimum of equipment so I could move fast. I was able to stay on névé for the initial snow cone and the first 100m of the couloir, but after that the climb was on hard, brittle ice. The angle was about 50°, and earlier in the summer the climb would probably have been fairly easy, but in the late-season conditions I found it challenging. From the top of the couloir I reached the summit via 100m of 3rd and 4th class rock. I descended the North Ridge route for a long ways, mostly on its east side (3rd class), before dropping west, back into the scree basin below the northwest face.
We hiked out to Bluff Lake in one and a half days via Whitesaddle Creek. It was an enjoyable climb in a wonderful setting, and it should be noted that Don, in what I understand to be his usual pleasant and easy-going way, was not annoyed that I “stole” his project. I wouldn’t have known of Blackhorn Mountain if Don hadn’t invited me along.
Colin Haley, Seattle, WA