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North America, United States, Washington, Mix-up Peak, The Misunderstanding

Mix-up Peak, The Misunderstanding. On October 25 Forest McBrian, Dave Jordan, and I established a new line on Mix-up Peak in North Cascades National Park. The route, which climbs the northeast face of the north summit, is partially visible from Cascade Pass. Forest and I spotted the line a week prior, while descending Sahale Arm after climbing an undocumented but excellent couloir on Sahale Peak’s east face. The weather was with us; we had clear and cold temperatures, immediately following a brief warm spell that included rain up high, which created perfect conditions on the climb.

The route begins in a narrow groove 60m east of the obvious couloir that splits the face. The first pitch set the tone, with excellent sticks in perfect snice but a dearth of protection. Each of the following eight pitches stretched the rope, totaling almost 1,800' of climbing on the face. The route was longer and more difficult than we had anticipated. It is unusually sustained for a Cascades line—only two pitches didn’t include 55° or steeper terrain, and all went straight up (except pitch two, which deviates 15m right at mid-height).

The crux was a roof draped with icicles on pitch five. It was the finest pitch we had ever climbed in the mountains, and Forest led it impeccably. Above the crux we discovered an incredible ice chimney that led to yet another ice pitch and finally a short snow slope to the crest.

Technical climbing ended at a small notch in the summit ridge, where we took in a spectacular view of Johannes berg and Formidable in evening alpenglow. It was a perfect day in the mountains. The Misunderstanding (2,200’ of climbing, IV M4R AI4).

Kurt Hicks, kurthicks.com