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North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Range, Mt. Snoqualmie, Pineapple Express

Mt. Snoqualmie, Pineapple Express. On my third attempt this year, Roger Strong and I climbed the line of corners tracing up the longest part of the northwest face of Mt. Snoqualmie. We completed the climb on February 9, 2005. Located only an hour from Seattle, yet not visible from nearby Alpental ski area, the northwest face of Mt. Snoqualmie is the largest and steepest face in the region. The growing popularity of the New York Gully route (Cotter-Ruch, 1985) confirms the quality of this winter crag; there have been numerous repeats, a speed ascent, rope solo, and, finally, freeing of NYG’s short aid pitch (AAJ 2004, p. 164).

Approach from the Alpental parking lot. Ascend the Phantom Slide to the northwestern shoulder of Mt. Snoqualmie. Drop into the Thunder Creek basin and traverse beneath the New York Gully area to the lowest toe of rock buttress. The approach takes one to three hours, depending on snow conditions. The first pitch starts just left of the lowest point of rock, climbing a thin slab of ice hidden in a long right-facing corner (WI3+R). After this pitch trend up left, pulling steep heather into a mixed gully leading to a tree belay beneath a rock headwall. The superb third pitch climbs the steep right-facing corner to a tree belay (M6 with good gear). Pitch four leads up and right into snow and trees. The next pitch squeezes through the trees and traverses right to a 5.8 rock step, which leads to a tree belay. Continue up easy mixed ground to a flat ledge beneath the huge headwall that guards the top of the northwest face. Traverse right easily along a spectacular ledge system to join the last two pitches of NYG. We did nine 60m pitches. Include a few thin pitons, cams to 3", and many slings. Pineapple Express (IV 5.8 M6 WI3+R).

Dan Cauthorn