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[TR] Cutthroat Peak - West Ridge with North Ridge finish 09/13/2020

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Trip: Cutthroat Peak - West Ridge with North Ridge finish

Trip Date: 09/13/2020

Trip Report:


After a couple disappointing attempts into Depot Creek I settled for a rock climb this weekend with my son.   The smoke made multiple days seem unappealing but I figured a one day climb would be a reasonable compromise.   My son and I headed out to WA pass mid-afternoon on Saturday, stopping in Marblemount to retrieve some items we had stashed in bear lockers on a previous trip that the maintenance crew took.   We then proceeded to Lone Fir Campground for a relaxing evening before an early morning start.

Alarms went off at 5:20 (damn it's dark now at that time!), and we drove to the pullout below Cutthroat.  The smoke seemed to have worsened from the previous day, despite what we were expecting from reading forecasts.  Oh well, we were there.

View up in the morning:


We made quick work of the approach to the base of the route around 7500'.  We opted for the start just right of the prominent dihedral (with a wide crack) on the  S side.   The climbing started at class three then got harder and more exposed.  I never saw any fixed pitons (I expected two) and ended up climbing to rap chains in one long 60m pitch.  Later we found that this is the middle set of chains for the descent from the ridge crest.  From here I led a shorter pitch to the crest and the top chains.  This had a few rock moves mixed with scrambling.

We then unroped and moved the belay as far as we were comfortable.  There is one section of the ridge that becomes exposed on both side and requires moves around small micro-gendarmes that we didn't want to solo.  So we backed down a few feet, built an anchor and simul-climbed the exposed section to a flat spot. 

View to the summit block from the exposed ridge:


My son at the end of the exposed section:


From here we opted to traverse the ledge to a notch in the upper N ridge.  We simulclimbed that as well, but realized it didn't really require it (much less exposed than what we had just done).

Ledge leading to the N ridge as seen from the N ridge notch:


From the notch on the N ridge, I led a fun pitch up 4th and low 5th class rock until the terrain moderated to a scramble that led to the summit.

Summit views S (very smoky):


Summit views North (clearing some):


After enjoying the summit for a while and fueling up, we began our raps down to the W ridge.  We were expecting two 30m raps off of chains, but the 2nd rap dumped me on sketchy class 4 terrain, so I climbed back to the rope, attached a prusik, and climbed back to a 3rd rappel station (not chains, but quite elaborate set of round webbing/cordelettes).  

Me on upper rappel:


We then simul-climbed the short exposed ridge section, downclimbed to the bolt anchors on the lower ridge and did 3 30m raps back to the base. 

Lower rappel.  Note improved air quality by later afternoon :)



The hike out was pleasant and we got to the truck just after 6:30, making it a 12 hour day.

Gear Notes:
Alpine rack up to 2"

Approach Notes:
Zero snow. Compared to other trips this summer, not too chossy



Edited by KaskadskyjKozak
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  • Rawk on! 2

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Thanks for the good trip report and photos. I'd like to get up that some day, looks cool.

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On 9/16/2020 at 7:46 PM, Jim said:

Nice KK - despite the smoke - any port in a storm

Thanks, Jim.  TBH, I'm grateful for any day I can get out, especially at my advanced age :P

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Nice. Can’t wait to do this stuff with my son (he’s only 4). I climbed the south butt. Probably 5/6 years ago and made the mistake of rapping down an overhanging dihedral you some terrible rap stations on the second rap. It took us down the south face of the west ridge. NOT RECOMMENDED! You were smart to ascend back up.

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