American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
Black Diamond Logo

A.A.C., Cascade Section

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

AAC, Cascade Section. In 2003 the Cascade Section helped organize and sponsor two events in conjunction with a local web-based climbing group, We also took part in a three-day mountaineering event hosted by REI in late February, which included talks and demos by such luminaries as Peter Croft and Mark Twight, giving the AAC some good exposure. In April we provided sponsorship in the form of prizes to the Sawtooth Film and Climbing Festival at Evergreen State College.

The first event, in June, was a slideshow and talk by Scott Backes. Scott drove from the flatlands of Minnesota to share his philosophy, experience, and advice from 27 years of cutting edge climbing. This was not just a slideshow. Scott used each of the five expeditions including, Mt. Kitchener in the Rockies in 1980, Fitzroy 1983, Denali 1985, Mt. Hunter 1984, and the single-push ascent of Denali in 2000 via the Czech Direct to show how these climbs changed his life and opened his mind to what is possible. He showed us how important it is to have mentors and teachers in the mountains. He made us think about why we climb and why it has become so attractive to more and more people to be able to escape the stressful, technological life of today. In the climb of the Czech Direct he taught us what can be achieved when you hone your body, mind, and skills, and have climbing partners with whom you have a deep connection and trust. In the questions and answers we learned tips and techniques for climbing light and fast using nutrition and equipment that was not available to the pioneers of this style of climbing. Altogether this was an excellent presentation and one to be recommended to other sections.

The second event was outdoors (a different approach!) in Leavenworth, as reported by Mike Beck of “The rain may have gotten the climbers wet, but it didn’t dampen their spirits. Nearly a hundred participants braved the weather to convene October 10-12 outside Leavenworth, Washington, to climb and celebrate the camaraderie of the vertical environment. During the day on Saturday, a beginner’s climbing area was available, and Tacoma Mountain Rescue instructed people nearby on self-rescue techniques. A bratwurst and beer feast followed Saturday’s climbing adventures. At dusk the real entertainment began. Slide shows by Steve Swenson (AAC) and Wayne Wallace, and more beer, were followed by a raffle of gear donated by over a dozen sponsors. The rain- soaked raffle raised $400 for the Access Fund and the American Alpine Journal. A slide show by Erden Eruc (AAC) on his 2003 self- powered expedition from Seattle to the top of Denali and back was the high point of the evening. Climbers awakened Sunday morning to find John Harlin cooking pancakes for everyone, with the assistance of Steve Swenson, while enjoying coffee and a talk from the Forest Service on ways climbers can minimize impact on the environment. A trails project got washed out by all the rain, but many climbers still went climbing. The weekend was a success. The third annual Cascade Climbers Full Moon Ropeup had met its founding objective— ‘fostering stewardship of the vertical environment.’ Look for next year’s event during the full moon in October at Bridge Creek Campground outside Leavenworth, Washington.” We hope to do more joint events with and other local climbing groups.

The major mountaineering issue this year was the proposed changes to the Mount Rainier National Park management plan. Lloyd Athearn provided responses on behalf of the AAC with regard to both the proposed fee increases and to the changes to commercial climbing services. We are also monitoring a proposal for an underground science facility in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area that is currently under consideration.

Congratulations to member Erden Eruc for completing the first part of his self-propelled climbing odyssey by cycling to and climbing Denali and cycling back to Seattle (5,546 miles). The next stages involve rowing, first to South America to climb Aconcagua and then on across the Pacific. For more information see For climbing exploits of other Section members see the expedition and first ascent notes in this Journal.

Lastly, the Section is pleased to have contributed $1,000 this year to the AAJ and would like to thank Craig McKibben, Raymond Huey, and Carlton Swan for their share of that donation. Please visit our Web site at, and if you have questions about the Section contact me at

Peter Ackroyd, Chair

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.