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mhux

Mt challenger via whatcom peak?

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Hi there,

I am wondering about the approach to Mt Challenger via easy ridge: it seems most people end up doing the 'imperfect impasse', but I read a Steph Abegg tr where she climbed up and over the west ridge of Whatcom to reach perfect pass. Why don't more people just climb over Whatcom? It seems that perfect pass is really close from the summit, and the ridge to summit is a class 3 scramble- why do people opt for the imperfect impasse? I must be missing something, unless folks just aren't aware of this option. Maybe its 'class 3++'? 

Can anyone clue me in? 

Thanks! 
Max 

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There is also a way from Whatcom Pass where you traverse the glacier.  When we did our trip to Easy Mox we met a party at Whatcom Pass that had just climbed Challenger via this approach and they said the glacier was not that bad.

 

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When I did Challenger I came in Easy Ridge and out over Whatcom's summit, and it felt like six of one, half a dozen of the other time-wise.  Whatcom's not that big compared to the rest of getting to Challenger, the Whatcom Pass trail is well-maintained, and there was even a use trail much of the way between Whatcom Pass and the summit.

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Thanks for the info- I was mistaken in thinking Steph climbed the west ridge, when in fact it was the North ridge! I don't suppose anyone has climbed the west ridge? Looks steep..

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I recall the rock above the Imperfect Impasse getting progressively steeper and wet and looking loose when we there there a decade ago. We descended all the way to bottom of it, crossed, and ascended the other side to Perfect Pass. After climbing Challenger, we returned to Hannegan Pass by traversing the slopes of Whatcom, picking up the trail and Whatcom pass, and heading down from there. It was nice to make a loop and the trolley over the river was super fun. You could come in that way, but it may be a good bit further. When we did this, the traverse under Whatcom was an endless, misty, sidehilling snow walk. I understand it's nasty downsloping slabs and debris when melted.

Bottom line: things are very conditions dependent in the Pickets. Terrain that might be trival in early season snow, or when dry, like slabs or steep heather, can be hair-raising when snow-free and wet or icy.  It's a good idea to do as much research as you can beforehand about different options for approach/deproach/ascent/descent/escape and be prepared to adapt your plan to the conditions you find on the ground. 

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I did easy ridge both ways one year over Labor Day because the trail still hadn't been brushed out by trail crews. Many mile of brushy trail sounded lousy compared to alpine meadow walking.

Also early season when there is still snow on the trail makes this a good choice.

I have heard many people say the N ridge of Whatcom is sketchy, but mostly people with multi-day packs.

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