While skiers had fun, lingering snowpack and unstable early season weather meant a late start to the 2008 climbing season. Many access roads did not open until well into June. July was not a great month for climbing, and the first reported new alpine climb came on August 2, with Forest McBrian and Tasha McIlveen’s route on the north face of Courtney Peak (III 5.10). John Scurlock’s aerial photos continued to provide inspiration and ideas, such as for Rolf Larson and Eric Wehrly’s August 17 route, Unearthed Obscurity (III 5.9), on the north arête of West Tillies Tower in the Austera Towers. On August 24 Mark Allen, Leighan Falley, and Joel Kauffman established Southern Man (IV 5.9+ Cl) on South Early Winter Spire. They started with a variation to the 1965 Anderson-Myher-Richardson-Young route, then climbed new ground up the crack system in the upper southeast headwall before finishing with the final pitch of the Beckey-Leen. Blake Herrington and David Trippett established Playin’ not Sprayin’ on Silver Horn (III 5.10) on August 31. Tim Haider and Ben Kunz climbed what was at least a partial new route, Rilikpa (5.7/8), on the southwest face Sherpa Peak on September 16. With the climbing season winding down, on September 25 Mike Schaefer made the first free ascent of Thin Red Line, an old aid classic on Liberty Bell, with five pitches in the 5.12 range.
The winter of 2008-09 turned out to be unusually good for ice climbing in Washington— visit www.nwmj.org for more information. Meanwhile on January 16 Ade Miller and John Plotz found amazingly dry conditions for the first winter ascent of Backbone Ridge, a classic grade IV rock climb on Dragontail Peak.
One interesting report involved taking mountain bikes on a commuter bus to Darring- ton, then pedaling to Three O’Clock Rock. Self-propelled trips to the mountains have long appealed to a small number of enthusiasts, and this wasn’t the first time anyone took a bus to go climbing, but it was an interesting response to high gasoline prices. Fitz Cahall did a good job with an audio story of the climb (“No Car No Problem” at www.dirtbagdiaries.com). Cahall may be ahead of his time, but rangers at North Cascades National Park say they are looking into some kind of public transportation to the Cascade Pass trailhead as part of an effort to make park visitation more carbon neutral.
Matt Perkins, Northwest Mountaineering Journal, AAC