8.17.2009

Unpublished Routes - The Modern Classics?

You can't fake the thrill of alpine exploration.

Jens Holsten FAing on Gorillas in the Mist, Mt. Stuart


The mountains between Seattle, Spokane, and Vancouver have seen prodigious activity in the last few years, and many of the new routes are amazing. The question is: will anyone climb them, or will they fade into obscurity?

Here's a listing of new routes, with links to more info. These are all un-published (or "under-published") but many would be amazing climbs if you're looking for greater challenges or if you have done all the guidebook climbs that perk your interest. If or when some of these routes get traffic, they could become the modern classics of the range, and some of the hardest or best alpine climbs in the contiguous US! Let me know which ones I forgot and I'll add them in. There are definitely many on this list that I can't wait to try.

Presence of stars is totally subjective. I rated only the routes I had done. Absence of any stars means I have not done the climb. ***=World Class, **= Great, put it on the list! *=OK

BC, The Picket Ranges, and Cascades North of Hwy 20

Blake Herrington FAing on Castle Peak's Herrington/Hirst

Les Cornes - Springbok Arete, Sprung Cocks Erect, Voodoo Child ***


Serendipity Peak - Back of Beyond Buttress III 5.10b

Rexford's False Summit - South Pillar III 5.11

Castle Peak - Herrington/Hirst (middle buttress of North Face) IV 5.10d**
Castle Peak - Sod-On-Me III+ 5.10

Ampitheater Mountain North Face - Pilgrimage to Mecca II+ 5.9 **
Ampitheater Mountain North Face - Unauthorized Squirrel II+ 5.10a *
Ampitheater Mountain N. Face - Middle Finger Buttress Left II+ .10c**
Macabre Peak - South (South) Buttress III 5.11a

Mt. Shuksan
- NW Arayete III 5.9 **

Green Creek Wall (E. Ridge of South Twin Sister)
- The Mythic Wall III 5.10a**
Green Creek Wall - Green Creek Arete II 5.6
Green Creek Wall - Evil Twin Arete III 5.9*

Mt. Fury's West Summit
- Mongo Ridge VI 5.10

Specter Peak - The Haunted Wall IV 5.9

Middle Challenger - South Ridge III 5.7
West Challenger - East Ridge III 5.9
Poltergeist Pinnacle (sub -peak of Challenger) - East Face III 5.9 R/X

SE Mox (Lemolo Peak) - NE Buttress / After Hours V 5.10-
SE Mox's East Face - Devil's Club V+ 5.9 A2

The Blob
- Plan 9 III or IV 5.10

East McMillan Spire
- Come over to the Dark Side (NE Buttress) V 5.10-

Mt. Triumph
- SW Rib III 5.8

Southern Pickets Traverse - VI 5.10+
Northern Pickets Traverse - VI 5.7 - Alternate Link



Washington Pass Area

David Trippett belays new terrain on The Silver Horn Spire Playin not Sprayin

Tower Mountain - SE Ridge III 5.10b **

Cutthroat Peak - Community Service Project 5.8 x

Hinkhouse Peak - NW Ridge III 5.8*

Billygoat Buttress of Pk. 6,978' (South of Cutthroat Lake Trailhead) - Perfect Crime III 5.9*
Billygoat Buttress - Easy Getaway III 5.10a**

The Snout - Deviated SeptumII 5.10b*
The Snout - Smelling Salts II 5.10d **

The M&M Wall - Supercave IV 5.11

Vasiliki Ridge - Carlo Rossi Memorial Tower III 5.10d x

Pernod Spire
- Indirect West Face III 5.10

Pernod Spire - Direct West Face III 5.10+

Burgundy Spire - Action Potential (East Face) III 5.10

Burgundy Spire - Ultramega OK (East Face) III 5.10c AO

Silver Star sub-summit (Whine Spire) - Gato Negro IV 5.10b**
Silver Star - Stellar Eclipse III+ 5.11a

Silver Horn (Spire on E. Ridge of Silver Star) - The Chalice III 5.10a**
Silver Horn - Playin not Sprayin III 5.10c**

Varden Creek Spire (On E. Ridge of Silver Star) - North Arete III 5.9 - Alternate Link

Le Petit Cheval - Spontaneity Arete II+ 5.7*
Le Petit Cheval - Paul Revere II+ 5.9+


Big Kangaroo - Kearney/Thomas Free Ascent - III 5.11a

Concord Tower -
West Face II 5.9*

South Early Winter Spire
- Mojo Rising III 5.11 A1
South Early Winter Spire - The Passenger IV- 5.11c/d***
South Early Winter Spire - Cascade Mall (Whindham/Cotman Bolted Route)
South Early Winter Spire - The Hitchhiker IV 5.11b or 5.10d A1 - Description - Route Photo

North Early Winter Spire - Pangaea - ?? 5.12a - Forrest Murphy and Doug Ingersoll



The Middle North Cascades

Gordy Skoog in his element, on the first climb of Mt. Buckner's Southeast Ridge

Mt. Logan - NW Ridge V 5.8

Johannesburg Mountain - CK Route IV 5.10b AI3

Mt. Goode - Megalodon Ridge IV+ 5.10b**

Mt. Buckner
- Complete SE Ridge IV 5.8*

Distal Phalanx (Mantis Peak) - North Arete IV 5.10 AO

Mt. Formidable - Direct NE Buttress III+ 5.9
Mt. Formidable - East Ridge IV 5.7
Mt. Formidable - NE Face Direct III+ 5.6

Repulse Peak -
North Face (No link, reported as a good adventure, not too hard or scary)

Dome Peak's SW Summit
- SE Face 'Gran Torino' IV 5.9

Tupshin Peak
- East Ridge III+ 5.7*

Bonanza Peak - NW Ridge via Dark Peak V 5.8**
Bonanza Peak - Three Summits Traverse V 5.8

Star Peak
(Sawtooth Wilderness Area) - NW Ridge III 5.7

Courtney Peak
- North Face III 5.10

Sloan Peak - Fire on the Mountain (SW Face) III+ 5.10**
Sloan Peak - SE Ridge II+ 5.10a

Roan Wall - Center Stage III 5.11a*** - Link to approach detail, map, and Topo
Roan Wall - Stage Right III 5.10b

Salish Peak - Flight of the Falcon III 5.10c (5.9 AO)**

Tang Tower - Brush Humper's Delight III 5.10a
Tang Tower - Sine Your Pitty III 5.8+

Big Four Tower - Direct North Face IV 5.10a

The Gunsight Group


Dan Hilden on the East Face of Gunsight


All Four Summits - Complete North->South Traverse 'Gunrunner' IV 5.10**

North Gunsight - West Face Free III 5.11+***

Middle Gunsight - East Face III 5.10d***

South Gunsight - East Face 'Accidental Discharge' II 5.10*
South Gunsight - South Ridge II 5.8**
South Gunsight - West Face III 5.9

Index Upper Town Wall
Alpine, no. World-Class and unpublished? Definitely.






Heaven's Gate III- 5.11b***

Wildest Dreams III 5.12b

Golden Road III 5.11d***


The Enchantments

Sol Wertkin belays Jens Holsten FFA of Dragons of Eden - Dragontail

Mount Stuart - Gorillas in the Mist IV+ 5.11a***

Sherpa Peak - Rilikpa III 5.7

D'artanian Spire
(Temple Ridge Area) - South Face III 5.10+ C1

Colchuck Balanced Rock
- The Tempest Wall IV 5.9 C2 or ~5.12c***
Colchuck Balanced Rock
- The Scoop III 5.11c**

Enchantment Peak - Acid Baby III 5.10d**

Prusik Peak - Der Sportsman III 5.11c/d***
Prusik Peak - Solid Gold II+ 5.10d**
Prusik Peak - Prayer for a Friend III 5.12- C1

Dragontail Peak - Dragons of Eden IV+ 5.12a (5.10 Ao)**
Dragontail Peak - 20-Sided Dihedral IV 5.10 Ao (This begins just right of 'Dragons of Eden' and crosses left @ ~P3, meeting the NE Buttress 60' to the left of DOE.)
Dragontail Peak - Dragon Scar IV 5.11a R
Dragontail Peak - Der Dihedral IV 5.10b

Boola Boola Buttress
- Black Velvet III 5.10c


Winter or Spring Ice and Snow Routes

Colin Haley on Chiwawa's Intravenous route

Snoqualmie Peak - Pineapple Express IV WI3+ M6 5.8

Mt. Outram - Ghost Passenger III WI3

Mt. Brice -
Graveyard Shift IV AI3


Twin Needles -
Thread of Ice III - Snow


Chiwawa Mountain -
Intravenous IV WI4 M6

Silver Star Mountain -
West Face Central Couloir III AI2 M4

Pyramid Mountain -
NW Face 'It Aint Over Mother Fuckers' IV M4

Summit Chief -
Alpine Chicken IV AI4+ 5.8 R
Summit Chief -
North Face III AI3

Three Fingers -
NE Face IV WI4+ M3

Mt. Stuart -
Lara Kellog Memorial Route IV WI6 AO

Hall Peak -
NW Face III 5.6 WI3

White Chuck -
East Face Couloir WI3 5.8 R

Abiel Peak -
Spindrift Daze III AI3+
Abiel Peak -
It's Al-Der III AI4
Abiel Peak -
North Face Direct III WI4

Snow Creek Wall -
Swing and a Prayer IV WI5 M6 R

Lake 22 Headwall -
NW Chutes IV AI4
Mt. Index - West Face 'Murphy's Law' V AI3 M4
Nason Ridge - North Face 'Alpine Dropout' III+ WI3

Whitehorse Mountain -
East Face III+ AI4

8.16.2009

Alaska Part 6 - The Epic Escape


Jason crafted a movie about our trip.


And as Paul Harvey says: "Now, the rest of the story."


We needed a break.



Following our week of amazingly warm and calm weather, plus 3 new alpine rock climbs, Jason I and experienced a few grey, colder, and wetter days. What the heck happened to all the mountains? Lost in a fog...


Hanging out in the cooking shelter


Coastal Helicopters had dropped us off with a radio, and we called in for a weather report... what a luxury!


The bad news came back, it appeared that more storms were on the way, with little chance for clearing. Rather than pay the $370 for a 25 minute flight back to civilization, we decided to save some money and work a little harder, planning on skiing and hiking back out to Juneau.

Packing up the junkshow


Jason signals that the field goal was good!



The veteran Alaskan hardmen can evidently manage this trek out in one day (snow conditions depending) but we packed up, threw our stale tortillas in the moat, and set out at noon, planning on 2 days down to the trail head where we would try and hitch a ride to town.





Navigating the upper glacier in a whiteout was slow and stressful. The snow gulley we had planned to descend had entirely melted out, leaving us with several hundred feet of steep slabs that were running with water. Rappel down this... yummy!


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Here you can see the rock band which we rappelled after the gulley had melted.


I had loaded up my pack with more weight than I had ever carried, it was probably half my bodyweight. The 200' waterfall rappel just served to soak our clothes and both 60m ropes, increasing the poundage of our bags. I skied for a few miles in my climbing boots, but needed crampons to climb down one of the several small icefalls.





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By the end of the first day I had taken me skis on and off about 5 times and we hoped to have made it half way out.



The second day was all walking, as the dry and fractured glacier did not allow for skiing at all. With an even heavier pack, my pace wasn't much faster than that of the glacier we walked down.
How can you quickly cross miles of this?


Jason gets his crevasse jump perfected


After feeling like a pinball bouncing back and forth across a see of frozen waves, Jason and I finally reached the moraine on the afternoon of the 2nd day.


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From here, we hoped to find a trail, but glacial recession in recent years has created a confusing network of alder-covered 4th class terrain where one could previously reach the trail from the snow. After encountering swarms of Alaska's state bird (AKA Mosquito) and thrashing up several hundred feet of slide alder (wearing a 70lb pack and skis tied to the top) we realized that we'd gone too high, and dispiritingly turned around, eventually finding the end of the 3 mile 'West Glacier Trail'.



Even this maintained trail featured too many low-hanging limbs to keep skis on my pack, so I carried them in my arms for the final hour of hiking. Thoroughly thrashed, a Juneau local took pity on us and gave us a ride back to town, where we promptly headed down to the docks, for dinner and a beer at Juneau's best pizza parlor.

In retrospect, the epic ski/climb/rappel/hike/schwack back to civilization was a good test, and we both felt like we'd truly earned a little of the fantastic weather and perfect stone which the Towers had held for us.
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This amazing experience would have been impossible without my friend and climbing partner Jason Nelson, the hospitality and help of Ryan Johnson in Juneau, the American Alpine Club's grants for young climbers, and equipment from Outdoor Research, Cilogear Backpacks, Trango, and LaraBar. You guys and gals are awesome!

8.01.2009

Alaska Part 5 - The Resignation Arete IV 5.11+

The rock is good in the Mendenhall Towers. This splitter, and its twin finger crack on the right, are ideal rest-day routes, accessed from the glacier just East of Tower #4.






Now about 6 days into our time at the Towers, we finally saw signs of the weather pattern changing. With slight gusts and whispy clouds, Jason and I were eager to jump on another unclimbed line that we had spotted from our scouting day.


Tower #4, with a thin finger of granite visible. This flake looks like the summit, but is actually obscuring the top of the peak. We'd head toward this flake all day.


After being stymied by a large undercut snow fin and moat, we began at the buttress toe, and I was soon leading pitch #1. Most of this pitch was fairly casual, but ended with a short section of steep corner and roofy underclings to a hanging stance, where I brought Jason up.


Jason headed out left passing a couple more roofs and using face holds on the golden rock.




Pitches 3 and 4 were excellent, much better than we had even hoped. They followed a wide crack up clean slabs, then over a series of 3 roofs in a corner, each roof slightly harder than the last one, and all in the 5.10 range.





Jason pulls over roof #3




This brought us to a spacious ledge and the first headwall of the route. I literally could not believe the quality of the rock on this crest!

Bleached-white granite, full of long flakes, cracks, and more of the vertical fins and edges that we had seen on the curtain. The clean rock, steep climbing, and presence of long cracks made difficult moves seem fairly casual (by alpine standards).














After 4 more pitches up the crest, Jason led a 62-meter rope-stretcher and we thought perhaps we had neared the summit. However, my pitch of easy terrain led us to a small cave still 3-400 feet below the top, and the wall was getting steeper!

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Jason took the crux of the route in good style, again stretching the cords out for a full pitch of sustained 5.10 moves, with two 5.11 cruxes. The first 5.11 section finished up the top of theoverhung finger crack visible on the left.



I wish I had stayed outside of our little belay cave to get more photos of this lead, as the steepness is hard to capture.

The 2nd crux was a delicate face sequence off a ledge, which involved a stretch even for Jason, who is 6'6"! I was unable to do the move freely while following, and found a flaring, two-lobe placement for a cam, which I used as a temporariy handhold to reach up into the desired hand jam.



I led the final pitch, which used up all the rope once again. This pitch began at the base of a final steep wall, with a thin, curving flake of granite to my left. We had been eyeing this "finger" all day, and had noticed it's strange prominence throughout the week before. It was exhilirating to end the pitch by stemming my way slowly up the wall, higher and higher in the swirling mists. I kept my left foot on the flake, and my right on the wall, until my left foot could go no higher.




At this point, I kicked off the flake with my left foot, and gently tottered all my weight onto the final headwall crest. Here a long stretch of 5.8 face climbing with no gear brought me to the beautiful cracks of the summit slabs.

We stayed up top for only a minute, watching the clouds go flying by us and obscuring such famous peaks we'd seen as the Devil's Thumb, Devil's Paw, and Mount Fairweather.


We set anchors and rappeled down an overhanging wall to the East of the summit. The rappels were long and clean, eventually crossing a hanging snow patch and arriving at the glacier just a few hundred yards from where we had crossed the moat.


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Excavating an anchor:







In honor of Sarah Palin, the polarizing erstwhile governor of Alaska, we named our climb the Resignation Arete. As Ms. Palin had announced her surprise exodus from the governor's mansion days before our arrival in Juneau, all of our newspapers were full of Palin-related coverage and conjecture. Upon dispatching the crosswords, we were left with nothing but Palin-related reading material for our recon or bad-weather days. We think she was just intimidated by teh prospect of Jason and Blake roaming her fair state.






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