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: 2007

Washington, summary of activity. [Note: In addition to mention in this summary, several of the bigger routes have individual reports, below—Ed.] The Cascades saw a fairly typical year of new route activity, with notable winter ascents, ski descents, and summer ascents. Backcountry ski descents continue to grow in popularity, 2006 highlights being Ross Peritore’s descent of the Triple Couloir on Dragontail Peak, and Sky Sjue’s descent of the Kautz Headwall on Mt. Rainier. Sjue teamed up with numerous partners to make notable descents on Mt. Logan, Mt. Stuart, and West McMillan Spire. A new traverse, over 30 miles, given the current access conditions, was pioneered in the Twin Sister Range.

The 2006-7 winters smaller-than-typical windows of cold temps and high pressure limited access to a lot of winter alpine climbs, but some great lines were done. Arguably the biggest climb of the winter was the Northeast Face (IV WI4+ M3) of Three Fingers Peak by Dave Burdick and John Frieh. New routes continue to be established within an hour’s drive of Seattle, including Spindrift Daze (III AI3+) on Abiel Peak, by Kurt Hicks, Matt Cusack, and Bob Masasi, and the Conlin-Gullberg Route (III WI3+ M4), by Dave Conlin and Scott Gullberg, on the north face of Kent Peak. Wayne Wallace and Gary Yngve climbed the hardest new ice route on Snow Creek Wall, the North Dihedral Direct–Swing and a Prayer (300m, IV WI5 M6R).

Alpine ascents during 2006 demonstrated that potential still exists even at popular alpine areas. In the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Dragontail Peak gained a new route on its northwest face, Dragonscar (2,500', IV 5.11R), by Max Hasson and Jens Holsten. At Washington Pass, Ross Peritore and Tony Bentley established the Direct West Face (8 pitches, III/IV 5.10+) on Pernod Spire. Mark Allen, Joel Kauffman, and Tom Smith established Mojo Rising (6 pitches, III 5.11 A1), a direct line on the northwest face of South Early Winters Spire.

Perhaps the most remarkable lines were climbed by Wayne Wallace, Mike Layton, and Eric Wolfe in the Picket Range. In mid-August Wallace and Layton made the first ascent of the Haunted Wall on Spectre Peak (2,100', IV 5.9+). Photos of this wall had led to years of attempts and speculation. Layton returned to the area with Eric Wolfe to make the first ascent of Plan 9 on The Blob (16 pitches, IV 5.10). But the most lauded climb of 2006 was Wayne Wallace’s epic solo first ascent of Mongo Ridge (VI 5.10-), a mile-long line on West Fury Peak with 4,000' of elevation gain.

The Northwest Mountaineering Journal is an annual online presentation, of the accomplishments of climbers and skiers, and documents the history of our travels in the mountains from the North Cascades to Mt. Hood. NWMJ issues are typically published in late summer, covering activity from April 1 to March 31, and can be found at www.nwmj.org.

Chris Simmons and Alasdair Turner, Northwest Mountaineering Journal, AAC

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