American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Range, Summary of Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Washington, summary of activity. [Note: this summary supplements individual reports, mostly of bigger routes, below—Ed.] Previously unreported were two ascents of Poster Peak, by probable new routes, in the summer of 2003. Poster Peak is shown on the Washington Pass quad as Point 7,565', one mile southeast of the Early Winters Spires. It is the terminating high point of the long but mostly flat ridge extending toward Copper Point from the Early Winters massif. Larry Goldie and Blue Bradley climbed the leftmost of the two prominent east-northeast buttresses, as seen from Highway 20 just below the hairpin turn. This high-quality moderate route, which they named Blue Buttress, makes for a great day out, with a one-hour approach. It traverses onto the nose of the buttress from the left on a broad ledge, 200 feet up and left from the toe. From there, staying true to the ridge crest on delightful, sound rock takes one right to the summit in about 12 pitches, the most difficult pitch being near the summit (III 5.7). Steve House free-soloed the rightmost of the two east-northeast buttresses in 45 minutes. The climbing is less continuous than on Blue Buttress but is 5.9 at its hardest. The route begins in a shallow depression on down-sloping, awkward climbing. Two pins are fixed on this first pitch. Subsequent parties have reported as many as 17 roped pitches (III 5.9). Descent for both routes is by a walk-off to the south to the base of the route.

In February 2004 Mt. Fury saw its first winter ascent, by a soloist from the Skagit Valley who prefers to remain anonymous. Mt. Fury was arguably the most impressive and obvious peak in the Cascades to have not been climbed in winter. The reclusive Pickets Range aficionado approached by following the Goodell Creek drainage all the way to Fury from Newhalem. In addition to the main summit, he climbed the West Peak, which is rarely climbed, even in summer.

Over February 19-20 Sky Sjue, Ross Peritore, and Corey Bloom made a ski descent of Mt. Buckner’s North Face, making the first winter ascent of the route in the process. They approached up the Quien Sabe Glacier and through the Boston-Sahale col to gain the Boston Glacier.

On June 20 Mike Layton and Jordan Peters climbed a new route on the west face of Cutthroat Peak. They named the six-pitch route Community Service Project (III 5.8R), alluding to their altruistic discovery of the rock’s low quality. The climb begins below a dihedral system, trends rightward avoiding blank headwalls and gullies, and finishes at the top of the second southwest gully.

On June 27 Layton and Eric Wolf climbed a new route, Der Dihedral, on the northeast face of Dragontail Peak. The route begins just uphill of the Northeast Couloir route, between the 1962 and 1972 northeast face routes, climbing seven new pitches up the dihedral before joining the Northeast Buttress route at about two-thirds height. Most of the dihedral was 5.8 or easier, but they rated the crux roof 5.10b.

On July 31 Layton and Eric Whirley made the long-awaited second ascent of the North Face of Inspiration Peak, a.k.a. The Soviet Route. The pair approached by traversing around the east side of Little Mac Spire, and on the route found Soviet hardware relics left from the first ascent in 1977.

Immediately after returning from an attempt on K2, Chad Kellogg took advantage of his residual acclimatization to break his own Mt. Rainier speed record. On August 9 he climbed the Disappointment Cleaver in 4:59:01 Paradise-summit-Paradise.

On August 20-21 Brett Bergeron and Jens Klubberud climbed a new route on the north face and northwest rib of Katsuk Peak in the North Cascades. They reached the surprisingly large face by traversing the Katsuk glacier (the biggest in the area) from near the Kimtah-Katsuk col. The rock climbing began near, and just west of, two ribs and gained the summit ridge, where several more pitches led to the summit. The route began on beautifully polished granite and finished on more typical fractured Cascade volcanic rock. Bring crampons. III 5.6.

In October photographer John Scurlock launched a website (www.pbase.com/nolock) exhibiting some of the thousands of pictures he has taken of the Cascades over the past few winters. Scurlock flies solo around the Cascades in winter, in a self-built small airplane, taking high-resolution digital photographs. His contribution to the Cascades is comparable to Brad Washburn’s to the Alaska Range. It comes at a fortuitous time, as winter climbing is gaining popularity in the Cascades, and this was a winter that provided fantastic climbing conditions, though horrible skiing.

Phil Fortier and Dave Burdick made what is likely the first winter ascent of Mt. Maude on December 23 in one long day, using a snowmobile to quickly cover the 23 miles of closed road. They ascended an obvious right-slanting couloir on the west face and descended by the south shoulder.

On February 2, 2005, Darin Berdinka and Dave Brannon made the first winter ascent of the Northeast Ridge of Whitechuck Mtn. Berdinka returned to Whitechuck on February 27 to make the first winter ascent of the East Face Couloir with Gene Pires and Justin Thibault. They found the reportedly undesirable summer climb to make a fantastic winter climb, with several pitches of water-ice runnels, sometimes no more than a foot wide.

Dan Aylward and Colin Haley made the first winter ascent of Mt. Triumph’s spectacular Northeast Ridge on February 26-27,2005. The climb consisted mostly of a steep, exposed snow-ridge, but included a few tricky mixed steps, with the crux encountered in the same place as in summer. They descended the southeast ridge.

On March 12, 2005, Craig Gyselinck and Ryan Painter made the first winter ascent of Mt. Thompson’s West Ridge, encountering almost summer-like conditions.

Ade Miller and Stuart Taylor made the first winter ascent of Davis Peak’s Northeast Couloir on March 13, 2005, a route that had thwarted attempts by other parties earlier in the winter. They experienced difficult mixed climbing low in the couloir and straightforward snow-climbing in its upper portion.

Colin Haley, AAC

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