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[TR] Goode Mountain - Megalodon Ridge 08/29/2021


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Trip: Goode Mountain - Megalodon Ridge

Trip Date: 08/29/2021

Trip Report:


Megalodon Ridge.  An evocative name for an evocative climb on Goode Mountain, the tallest peak in the North Cascades National Park.  Priti and I have been struck by its lore ever since we were students learning to alpine climb.  It is another one of those mythical Cascades test pieces that rarely sees ascents (although it really should get more attention).


Megalodon Ridge is the East ridge of Goode, joining with Memaloose Ridge and Goode Ridge from the Southeast before it reaches the summit.  The climb ascends with foreboding views out onto Goode’s impressive North Face and the highly aesthetic, classic NE Buttress.

Put up in 2007 by local legends Blake Herrington and Sol Wertkin over three days with recon by Dan Hilden, we were maybe the sixth known ascent.  Dan and Jens Holsten made the second ascent in 2010 over a blistering 27 hour single push.

FA TR: https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/53892-tr-mt-goode-megalodon-ridge-iv-510/?_fromLogin=1

Second Ascent TRs:



Other folks who have successfully put their hat in the ring  include local heroes of ours: Alex Ford, Laurel Fan, Austin Siadak, Michael Telstad, and Sean Fujimori…all people we have no business having our names in the same sentence…which added to the improbableness of this climb.  With new standards in moderate 5th-class choss tolerance, however, I think it’s time to lift the veil on this elusive climb.

Named after the prehistoric behemoth of the ocean, fish-themed snacks are a must.  33.5miles and 8,500ft vert round trip make this climb a relatively chill 3-4 day outing, an ambitious 2 day outing if you’re a pro climber, and an unfathomable single push outing if you’re a demi-god.  Being mere mortals, we did this as a casual 3-day outing with lots of time to spare.

Since its inclusion in Blake’s 2015 “Cascades Rock”, those pages went unconfronted for six years until Michael and Sean posted of their adventure this past July, reigniting its possibility.  

Michael TR: https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/104101-tr-mount-goode-megalodon-ridge-07192021/


Michael had an amazing trip report that helped us immensely.  The purpose of this TR is to sprinkle in some more micro beta if you choose to have less of an adventure.

Strategy Tips

  • The route could feasibly be done in 2 days by a very fast team of folks who are used to covering many miles of trail quickly.  But it is actually a very moderate outing when done in 3 or 4 days.  I'll outline all bivy options.  
  • You never really need to carry much water with you unless you plan to bivy on the summit.  We chose to carry less water on the route, and skip the summit bivy, since it's just an hour or two down the SW Couloir to flowing water.  
  • The Goode Mountain summit bivy is truly remarkable and a destination in and of itself.  There are two ledges at the very top which can fit four, then two more ledges 60m below the summit which can fit four more.  Sleeping on top is REALLY COLD, however, and you can get away with bringing less clothes if you don't sleep on top.
  • You really don't need to have a stove on this trip either since there is enough flowing water (unless the daily high's are below freezing in early season).  We regret bringing a stove.  Save every ounce
  • In all of my anecdotal polling data, nobody has taken the alternate wraparound descent as described in Cascade Rock.  Seems to be generally difficult and sketchy, requiring gnarly glacier travel and crampons.  Most parties who do the NE Buttress go down the SW Couloir to Park Creek, and it's kind of nice to just take the normal descent and avoid any extra shenanigans.  So...recommend just taking the normal descent.  There is still some weirdness going down to Park Creek, however, and we had to check our tracks frequently.  Many tracks are available on Peakbagger.com
  • You can probably skip crampons and ice axe.  The SW Couloir doesn't really require it, although you will find chill snow travel on descent.  There is a snow ridgeline along Megalodon Ridge (the ski descent).  Depending on the time of summer, you may be on top of the snow, in a moat, or in choss.  If you're on top, you can probably get away with just belaying across if you're worried about the exposure.  
  • Pair down the weight!!  We brought light glacier harnesses and loved it!  We clipped gear onto our backpack waist straps and all draws went around the neck.  There is really only 4 roped pitches.  The descent is between 2 and 6 rappels depending on how much down-climbing you're comfortable with, so you don't really need a regular harness, unless you're bringing more than a single rack.
  • A single rack .2-3 and a few small nuts is more than enough if you plan to solo <5.6 terrain.  Bring more gear if you plan to simul.  You can even skip the #3 if you are really confident at 5.9.  Less is more.
  • Headphones and downloaded podcasts make the 20 mile hike out go faster.
  • Skip the chalk bag.  Maybe bring a tiny tube of liquid chalk.
  • If you're confident in climbing 5.8 in techy approach shoes, you could maybe skip rock shoes altogether.
  • Cache beverages at Maple Creek on the way in so you have it on the way out!
  • There are really just 3 mandatory pitches of climbing all stacked on the headwall, and two additional optional pitches (the rest is 4th class and low 5th).  
    • To start off, I personally highly recommend roping up at the top of Tower 1 for the downclimb to the first notch since it is megaloose 5.6 downclimbing with mega exposure (Note: the FA party rappelled 50m to the south, not recommended).  
    • Then unrope for the traverse up/over/around gendarmes until the headwall pitches (4th class and low 5th).  Bypass gendarmes logically via lines of least resistance (sometimes up and over, sometimes around).
    • Rope up for the three headwall pitches to the summit of the SE summit: 1) 35m of LOOSE 5.7-5.10 (depending on which variation you chose), 2) 30m of 5.9 (technical crux of route) with many hand cracks, 3) 70m (simul) of LOOSE 5.7 to the SE summit (you can stop before summit if you don't want to simul).
    • Then unrope again, pass over the "ski descent" snow ridge, downclimb talus
    • Gain the rocky ridgeline again and pass a prominent col (not to be confused with Black Tooth Notch)
    • Continue on the rocky ridgeline, passing a piton and an old sling (5.6), continuing mostly on top of the ridgeline to the final gendarme just before the Black Tooth Notch.  Blake describes it as "a pitch of well-protected 5.10 climbing on the north side of the crest down into the notch" (Michael down-graded it to 5.9).  We found a 4th class route on the South side (climber's left) which bypassed the gendarme entirely, if you want to lose cool points.
    • Cross over the Black Tooth Notch (the SW Couloir), notice the rap stations, then an exposed traverse (cairn here) meets up with the NE Buttress.  Three 30m pitches of exposed and quality 5.6 (angling severely up and right) take you to the summit.
    • We downclimbed the 5.6 back to the Black Tooth Notch, skipped the first rappel at the notch, scrambled down 15m to the next rappel, then made two raps (30m then 15m).  I highly recommend not trying to downclimb these two rappels...just take them, it's steep, loose terrain.


Start from Bridge Creek Trailhead (just East of the Rainy Pass Trailhead) and take the PCT south, leaving it for the North Fork Bridge Creek trail (this is also the approach for the NE Buttress of Goode).  Starting from the Bridge Creek TH instead of Rainy Pass saves an extra mile of hiking.

Our downloadable tracks once you leave the North Fork Bridge Creek Trail and getting up on to the ridge are here: https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1748765


Pictured above is the turnoff from the North Fork Bridge Creek trail which matches the tracks.  It's an obvious boot pack that quickly turns into easy bushwhacking through alder.  This turnoff is approximately when the trail is closest to the creek.


Pictured above is the minor bushwhacking (knee to waist) over the creek (hidden) to gain Megalodon Ridge (right side of the frame).  The bushwhacking will be much harder if it's just after a rain.


When you get close to the creek the bushwhacking goes over head just for a little bit.  We took lessons that Michael and Sean learned and stayed on land through the dense brush, heading upstream for ~50ft along the creekbed instead of attacking the creek directly and wading upstream in the icy water.


When you pop out onto the creek, don't get in the creek until you confidently see your egress point.  You don't want to spend more time in the creek than necessary.  I got screaming barflies just from our straight-line crossing.  If you don't see the super obvious exit point (circled in red above), keep plowing upstream through the dense brush.


Once on the other side of the creek, a little more bushwhacking takes you to a rocky stream bed which you follow for a ways until you reach a chockstone waterfall (get water here).  You have 2-4hrs until you reach water again (approximately 1/4) up the ridge, so you don't need to carry too much.


Chockstone Waterfall.  Follow ledges high and right until it opens up.


Follow the stream until you get to the chockstone waterfall (where the green track diverges).  Cross the creek over to the North (Megalodon) side and skirt the the top of the canyon wall until it opens up...don't go straight up the ridgeline.  Follow open slopes up to the top of the ridgeline until you get to a small saddle and a 5.4 buttress.  This 60m buttress is super loose and scary, so spend some extra time looking for a safe route up.  


Above the buttress is a few more hours of 4th class hiking and scrambling to the top of Tower 1.  There is mild exposure on the final ridge to the top of Tower 1, but it's easy climbing.  From the top of the buttress to the water are several really good bivy sites.  At the water source is flat snow and boulders (not really a good, dry bivy site), so find something lower down on the ridge and hike up to retrieve water.  This is the last flowing water until the Goode High Camp basin below the SW Couloir (1-2hrs after reaching the summit), so fill up a day's worth or more if overnighting on the summit.  You also have the option to melt snow at "ski descent" along the way if you chose (no flowing water here).


4th class ridge to the top of Tower 1.


Looking over onto the North Face and the awesome NE Buttress route.  Neat pic.



Pano of Memaloose Ridge as it meets up with Megalodon at Tower 1 on the right.


From the top of Tower 1.  The "headwall" is on the left (SE Summit) which contains three roped pitches.  The FA party rappelled 50m to the South then traversed to the notch (not recommended).  Other parties since have downclimbed.  The downclimbing is loose, exposed 5.6...highly recommend roping up!  You can unrope again down at the notch (~2 rope lengths).


Unroped, easy scrambling up/over/around several gendarmes to reach the headwall.


The traverse from Tower 1 to the SE Summit Headwall.


Once at the headwall, choose your own adventure.  The first pitch is 30-60m (depending on how high up you start belaying) of 5.7-5.10 climbing.  Belay under an obvious corner on a ledge.  The second pitch is quality 5.8 or 5.9 (the technical crux of the route) hands and fists for 30m to a ledge below the final ridgeline to the summit.  The third pitch is 70m of unprotect able 5.7 ridge climbing (stacked, loose blocks) to the SE summit.  You can stop short of the summit if you don't want to simul. Blake suggested the SE summit as potentially a good bivy, but I didn't see anything that looked mildly comfortable.  Press on to the summit or the Goode High Camp.


Looking down from the belay at the top of Pitch 1.  You can see the ridge traverse down to Tower 1 (center), Megaladon Ridge (left), and Memaloose Ridge (right).  Could be a neat trip to take Memaloose into Megalodon Ridge!


Looking up at pitch 2.  Start in the corner and traverse left.


From here we unroped for the rest of the way (and we're not very good rock climbers either).  You can also put on your approach shoes for the talus. Cross over the snow (it is all choss now).  Melt snow here if needed, no running water.  Downclimb talus and start back up the ridge, staying mostly directly on the ridge.


The final obstacle is a gendarme guarding the Black Tooth Notch.  Go right (North) for the 5.10 original route (5.10 or 5.9) or downclimb and go around left (South) for our 4th class cheater-bypass route to gain the Notch.


Once at the Black Tooth Notch, traverse right (North) to join the NE Buttress.  Climb 3x 30m pitches of quality, exposed 5.6, trending right to reach the summit.  You can then make 3 traverse-y rappels back down to Black Tooth Notch or downclimb.  Recommend taking two rappels down Black Tooth Notch (30m, then 15m) since it is very loose and steep.  Here is a really good description of the descent: https://engineeredforadventure.com/goode-mountain-northeast-buttress/


Looking back at the final gendarme before the Black Tooth Notch at the two route options (photo taken from Black Tooth Notch looking East).


Photo of the entire Megalodon Ridge!  By now, you should be able to pick out "Tower 1", "SE Summit", and "final gendarme".  I'm not going to overlay them for you :).  The photo is taken from the ledge traverse on the North side looking back at Black Tooth Notch.


Another view of the "final gendarme" and the 5.9/5.10 downclimb on the North (shady) side that we did not do.


Fish-themed snacks are mandatory.




Looking up from the normal descent towards the SW Couloir.  A long, but straight-forward descent down to Park Creek Trail and 20miles on trail back to the car.  There is a good High Camp bivy site with water in the basin below the couloir: N 48.48025° W 120.91991°

Gear Notes:
single rack .2-3, few nuts, 8 single alpine draws, 3 double alpine draws, light glacier harness

Approach Notes:
Tracks: https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1748765

Edited by JeffreyW
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Megaladon Ridge provided as much hiking and scrambling as one could dream of, interspersed with 4-8 pitches of roped climbing, with some dubious rock quality. I’d give it a rating of 5.9, Loose-3/5, 2.5/5 stars. I noticed the rock was more loose but blocky on the climber's left of the ridge, and more solid but steep on the right. Staying on the ridge generally led to a decent downclimb, not a cliff, so that was the best option. Most of the big blocky-tower gendarmes were easy to skirt.

The round trip is over 40 miles, and as much as I wanted to do it in three days, getting a permit had us at the trailhead at 10:30 on Saturday. It was a joy to get bored of the hundreds of meters of scrambling and easy free soloing.

The area is so gorgeous and the perfect weather lured us into spending more than an hour by the river, enjoying the peace and let time expand and relaxing into the sounds of the burbling river and singing birds.

I def didn't want to bring the stove, but I guess it was reassuring if we actually got terribly cold or HAD to melt snow. The warm meals were nice, and coffee in the morning.

The Petzl Altitude harness was esp nice b/c it sits well under the pack straps, and I have gear loops on my pack, so the lack of them on the harness is fine!

We brought the Beal Escaper, and debated between a 50m and 60m rope. The first rappel down the descent would have not made it with only a doubled over 50m rope. Careful about pulling rocks down on yourself at that rappel! 

Edited by Priti
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Incredible photos and beta, thanks for putting in the effort to share!

On 9/4/2021 at 1:00 AM, JeffreyW said:

You don't want to spend more time in the creek than necessary.  I got screaming barflies just from our straight-line crossing.

That creek crossing was surprisingly brutal, it looks so friendly until you wade in...

Has anyone done the Stehekin approach for Goode? I'd like to try that way next time- the walk back to highway 20 kinda wrecked me.

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  • 3 months later...
On 9/8/2021 at 7:56 PM, sfuji said:

Has anyone done the Stehekin approach for Goode? I'd like to try that way next time- the walk back to highway 20 kinda wrecked me.

Yes, that's how we did it (not via Megalodon Ridge, however!) way back when there was a bus to drive you from Cottonwood back to Stehekin. Is there still?

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