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Kyle M

best of cc.com "Forgotten" Alpine Ice Cascade Testpieces (FACTs)

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Posted (edited)

With some time on my hands with the quarantine and all, I decided to compile some research. Here's a list of "forgotten" Cascade alpine testpieces (ice focused) or FACTs. Feel free to add some others I left out! Who's gonna be the first to tick the entire list?

I apologize for all the weird formatting. I just copied this post from my blog https://climberkyle.com/2020/03/22/forgotten-cascade-alpine-ice-routes/.

I90

I90 climbs offer the best access and easiest conditions to predict. There are undoubtedly many more climbs to be discovered in this area with easy access, generally good rock, and surprisingly rugged little mountains.

  • Mt. Kent, North Face (multiple variations): the greatest north face in the Snoqualmie region with many long 1000 ft lines. Bonus: you can see conditions from I90 near exit 42 while driving west! This has been super high on my list to explore.
  • Snoqualmie Mt, North Face (multiple variations): an abundance of mixed ice lines like the classic New York Gully and the lesser known Pineapple Express and Blue Moon.
  • Abiel Peak, North Face (multiple variations): the “Ben Nevis” of the PNW has many shorter alpine ice and mixed lines.
  • Bryant Peak, Hot Tubbs: Maybe this route hasn’t been around long enough since Jacob and I published it, but it reportedly hasn’t seen much action, so I think it’ll be forgotten soon enough…
  • Summit Chief Mountain, North Face: Colin Haley said this line had “more ice climbing than any other Cascade ice climb” he had ever done at the time. Big compliment. The North Face is much like Dragontail, just fatter.
  • Peak 3964, False Idol: An incredible 10 pitch ice route off the Middle Fork Snoqualmie that needs very cold temps to form. I believe this is just scratching the surface of the ice potential in the Middle Fork.

US2

US2 offers some hotspots like the Stuart Range, with its steep granite peaks, and a sprinkling of other incredible routes in the Lake Wenatchee area. Weather is generally colder and drier on the east side, which is good for ice.

Mountain Loop

Close to Seattle but tragically overlooked, the peaks of the Mountain Loop are as rugged as anywhere in the North Cascades but with surprisingly decent winter access. The myriad of big climbs in this little region speaks volume to the incredible terrain.

  • Big Four Mt, North Face (multiple variations): multiple routes, including the famous Spindrift Couloir. This is a mighty north face, and routes often take multiple days.
  • Hall Peak, North Face: little brother to Big Four supposedly has some ice routes.
  • Three Fingers, NE Face: This is a big route on a surprisingly big mountain. I believe there’s much more potential on the east side of Three Fingers.
  • Whitechuck Mt, E Face Couloir: A very aesthetic couloir ice/mixed route. Access can be challenging unless it is a very low snow year.
  • Whitehorse Mt, E Couloir: This steep route splits the Squire Creek Headwall for a fantastic line. I think it might even be visible from Darrington?!
  • Sperry Peak, E Face Gully: Another beautiful, long, moderate ice/mixed route that likely varies in technicality from fall to spring.
  • Sloan Peak, Full Moon Fever: This route climbs the weakness on the NW Face of Sloan. Having been at the base, I can say there is HUGE potential all over the place near the route.
  • Sloan Peak, Superalpine: I certainly hope this climb isn’t forgotten, as Porter and I believe it is truly the best moderate alpine ice route we have climbed in the Cascades (better than Cosley Houston or the NW Couloir of Eldorado), but I know how things go around here…
  • Lake 22 Headwall: who would think that one of the greatest alpine walls in the Cascades was just a short hour drive and hike from Seattle? There are so many unclimbed 2000 ft lines up this face, and you can get conditions updates by searching Instagram!

Highway 20

Highway 20 undoubtedly has many huge ice lines, but difficult winter access has limited exploration. During lower snow years, the Cascade River Road could be a great area for exploration and development.

  • Eldorado Peak, NW Ice Couloir: This route was sort of “remembered” in Fall 2019 when probably 20 parties climbed it (me included), but it’s a fantastic easier route, so I’ll leave it here.
  • Colonial Peak, North Face (multiple routes): The mega line Watusi Rodeo offers 4000 ft of front point terrain and is “easily” accessible all winter. First Date is another attractive route.
  • Pyramid Peak, NE Face (multiple routes): Home to some challenging mixed/ice routes on a wonderfully aesthetic peak.
  • Graybeard, North Face: Everyone seems to report this deceptively big route deepened their sense of mortality.
  • Davis Peak, No Milkshakes: the north face of Davis Peak is supposedly the steepest vertical mile drop in Washington.
  • Silver Star, West Face Couloir: Originally planned as a ski descent, it actually turned out to be a huge ice climb! Visible from the highway, but you probably need a sled to get up there.
  • Cutthroat Peak, Cauthorn Wilson: Gaining popularity lately, can be climbed right before the highway closes or after it opens.
  • Early Winters Couloir: This one is sort of a classic and can be climbed in both fall and spring.

Highway 542

The areas around Baker and Shuksan are generally well explored, but still offer great adventure. The Black Buttes are one of the centerpieces for hard alpine ice climbing.

Mt. Rainier / Tatoosh

This area is dominated by the mountain, but I’m guessing the Tattosh have good stuff and certainly easy access.

Mt. Hood

I don’t know much about Hood, but I’m sure there are some great routes that are infrequently climbed, so I’ll take suggestions here!

Edited by Kyle M
more routes
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Nice to see this beta all in one place. Plenty of time for a CC forum revival in quarantine. 

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This is great, thanks @Kyle M! I tagged it a "best of" so it should be easier to find going forward.....

And yes, let's have the community add more!

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I decided to rename it to FACTs (Forgotten Alpine ice Cascade Testpieces) to give the list a little more oomph. @PorterM has suggested we make tiers in the list (easy, middle, hard) and let people tick it off! Because who doesn't love lists?

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Awesome! Thanks for all the work you put into this Kyle! This is definitely becoming one of my checklists... Maybe the core of my checklists. As for other routes to add, something harder and rarely climbed on Hood seems deserving. Yocum has gotten a lot of love in the past few days and has never really been "forgotten". What about something on the black spider face (black widow maybe?) None of those routes see regular traffic, I don't know if any of them would be deserving of this list though as I haven't climbed on that face... Anyone know better?

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Thanks Kyle for putting this together and managing it! Most of these routes I have just floating around in my head winter through spring, never really bothered to make a list for myself. Let's pull some of these out of obscurity moving forward. We really do have a big winter playground, we just have to put in the work.

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Nice list, there are a few of these floating around. Yours adds a couple of new routes. There has been a winter alpine guide book in the works for some time. I was expecting to get a draft for review, but that was a few years ago.  If someone was industrious they would create a web based guide book to winter ascents and your blog is a good start. (Hint, hint).

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@DPS a new guidebook will be awesome! I sent you an email. If anyone else is interested in contributing or being in on this discussion, let us know!

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Would gladly offer up info/photos for the Stuart Glacier Couloir and Eldo's NW Couloir , if needed, when the time comes.

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Just to jot down a few more routes while they are in my head:

Mount Hood: (Much info on Wayne Wallace's blog: https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/?s=hood)

North Face Left Gulley

North Face Right Gulley

Black Spider https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/the-black-spider/ 

Three Little Monkeys: 

The Pencil

Arachnophobia: 

Elliot Glacier Headwall

Reid Glacier Headwall

Yocum Ridge 

Illumination Rock (Topo from Wayne Wallace)irocktopo1.jpg

 

Johannesberg Peak

NEB 

NE Face

Mixup Peak

West Face 

The Misunderstanding 

Sahale Peak

East Face Couloir 

 

Edited by DPS
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When I scanned the list and tried to recall anything that might not have made the list, the Haley-Burdick route on Summit Chief came to mind. The first hit on Google was the NWMJ (link below) which would be a great place to skim through for other forgotten climbs. 

I haven't kept up with the AAJ for at least a decade, so I know my perception is heavily biased by losing track of what's been going on, but I'll always remember the aughts as a "Golden Age" of mountaineering in the PNW. This site provided an incredible venue where people could hook up with new partners and intel for new routes that seemed to drive a significant uptick in new route activity. Or maybe it just made what had always been going on more visible and accessible. Whatever the case - it was a glorious time and the new routes that were born in that era deserve to be remembered, and - at least some deserve - to be repeated. 

I was just looking up at Mt. Index the other day while kayaking down the Skykomish and was telling someone that I was only aware of one route up the face (EDM) and didn't think it had been repeated. I totally forgot about Ade's route, and there are probably others as well. Anyhow - great thread. Kudos to the OP for sifting through the archives. 

http://www.alpenglow.org/nwmj/04/041_Shorts.html

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I also seem to remember a route that Necromonicon/Choada_Boy and two others (Dberdinka and genepires?) put up in the vicinity of Sloan back in the winter of 04/05? Very aesthetic, narrow mixed couloir. Anyone recall that one?

 

Edit - looks like it's up there. Route on Whitechuck. 

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JayB, didn't you and Paco (Eric Sweet) put up a route on Shuksan? Satan's Sidewalk, or am I thinking of someone else.

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16 hours ago, DPS said:

JayB, didn't you and Paco (Eric Sweet) put up a route on Shuksan? Satan's Sidewalk, or am I thinking of someone else.

That was us, back in 2003. It was the most memorable climb of my life, by far, but I'm not sure that it's in the same league as the routes on the list above.

Part of the reason for that is that - based on pictures I've seen - it goes from a mixed route that with a flow that rarely (I think) touches down in the late fall/early winter, to a pretty non-descript looking steepish snow slope by the time that spring rolls around. 

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