American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Mt. Index, Murphy's Law

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Mt. Index, Murphy’s Law. Stuart Taylor and I went in to check out the west face of the North Peak of Mount Index (5,353') on Friday, February 17, 2006. We planned to attempt the unrepeated Eve Dearborn Memorial (EDM)/Supercou- loir route. The approach wasn’t that bad although the bushwhacking up the lower part of the face was tedious. We soloed the lower gully and bypassed the second ice step by mixed terrain to the far left. From there we simul-climbed the left fork of the couloir, to above where it is split by a small rock spur.

We climbed higher but moved left too early, thinking we were higher on the face than we were, essentially mistaking a lower snow patch for the upper one described in Jim Nelson’s guidebook. Call it ineptitude or an inexplicable enthusiasm for steeper terrain.

The route we took leaves the EDM approach couloir and climbs an ice step, before heading up an ice runnel on the left side of the couloir. This leads to a snowfield level with the EDM bivy site (as marked in Nelson). We bivied at the top of the snowfield, below a rock buttress.

It wasn’t possible to continue up the runnels, the next pitch being discontinuous sn’ice. Failing upwards, we traversed left about half a ropelength across the snowfield and climbed another ice system on the left side of the buttress. From there the route stays to the right and climbs steep snowfields and ice smears for four pitches. It finishes immediately to the left of the North Peak; another ropelength leads to the summit.

After a brief trip to the summit, to make sure we were descending the right way, we traversed the ridge to the false summit of the North Peak. This required a short but awkward rappel to get across a notch in the ridge. We made it about 200' below the false summit before nightfall, and bivied. The following morning we descended the North Face route, rapping off trees almost the whole way. We used some existing fixed anchors lower on the face. Murphy’s Law (V, snow and ice to 80°, steep mixed ground).

Ade Miller, Redmond, WA

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