My partner Curt Feig and I have been talking about doing the NE Buttress on Goode for many years but circumstances never worked out for us. This year we finally found the sweet convergence of weather, availability, health and luck to go climb this classic.
There's a lot of descriptions out the route which I won't repeat but I will pass on some beta that we would have found useful if known to us.
Quick summary for those with a short attention span:
Amazing moderate alpine climb that requires a lot of effort to get in and out. There's a whole lot of mountain.
The rangers at Marblemount said they leave the self issue permits out till they open at 7am. They don't. We got there at 6:50 and the permits were gone. Instead we took a number and waited just like at the DMV. I was at the door when it opened at 7:01am and walked in with my #6 ticket prominently displayed. No one else followed me through the door apparently everyone else was content to talk about custom van conversions in the parking lot. Hmmm. I walked up the ranger and waited with my #6 ticket in hand. "Can I help you?" Sure can! We were out with our permits by 7:10.
Doing the approach from Bridge Creek trailhead off SR20 converts the adventure from being primarily a climbing trip to a climbing hiking extravaganza. There's a lot of miles to cover. If we had done it via Stehekin it would still consume a lot of time (lots of waiting for boats and shuttles) but that reduces the amount of miles hiked significantly - over 20 miles. Bridge Creek costs less and you have more control over your destiny. In the end, the hiking was fine but we did it in really hot weather going in and coming out which really sapped our energy and kept hydration a constant concern.
Bring a Forest Service parking pass as the Bridge Creek trail head isn't in the park.
We found no logs to cross the North Fork at the normal crossing point which is described by the endless beta and hand drawn maps. We continued up the trail even when you couldn't see any trail due to the heavy foliage. We continued up till we broke out of the dense undergrowth. At that point we were well right of the normal crossing but the snow field over the river allowed us safe easy passage over the North Fork. We climbed up snow and rock areas to ascend low fifth rock left a water fall to move through the cliffs. We continued angling left towards the traditional bivi areas. Eventually we found a flat spot at 5500' that others had bivied at as well with room for our two bivi sacks. This was before we'd need to either drop down hundreds of feet to continue left or ascend hundreds more to move above.
You can gain the buttress on the right without needing to go way left to get on the glacier. However, snow is melting fast so that approach may or may not still work. It did for us and made that section quite quick and easy.
Approaching spot to gain ridge
The route itself is amazing and stunning. The rock is incredibly well jointed and there is always one more flat or in-cut hold for the entire 3000 feet. You are climbing moderate rock with a pack and thinking that perhaps this section will blank out. Nope - look around, the holds always appear. The beta for the climbing we found the most helpful came from Steph Abegg: "Just stay on the ridge." I felt the climbing kept moving me off to one side or the other but there was always a good way to get back on top of the ridge itself. If you feel like the route is harder than 5.6 then you are off route.
Lots of 5.fun climbing on the ridge
The views are incredible and we were the only ones on the route that day. It was quite special. We dropped our packs at the notch and climbed to the summit free of that burden - it felt wonderful. The summit bivi looks amazing.
There are three rap stations from the summit to the notch. A 60m rope worked well - 55m might be a stretch. There are three rap stations from the notch into the gully. For the second it is better to rap over the rock trending rappers left of the gully as that allows you to finish your rap at the third station. The gully is chossy and tedious but not dangerous like the Bedayn. We were given beta to stay left of the washout and descend the burn. We did that for a long way but it sucked as in unconsolidated soil dusty charcoal dead burnt tree too steep sucked. We eventually came to our senses and traversed to the right side of the washout to the climbers trail. Life no longer sucked. Our beta: as you exit the gully and terrain begins to mellow go right of a spiny ridge and head towards the top of the washout.
After that it is just lots of miles, liters of water and lots of pain. Accepting and embracing the pain made it much more tolerable.
60m 8mm rope - we climbed with it doubled the whole time
a set of nuts w/ double of larger nuts
single set of cams to 1"
20 slings and 20 biners
we used approach shoes for the hike and climb which worked fine