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Bonanza Peak Tri-Summit traverse NE to SW

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On August 21st and 22nd Martin Volken, Kurt Buchwald and Peter Avolio completed the ridge traverse of all three summits of Bonanza Peak.

The route involves an approach via the Mary Green Glacier, climbing the NE buttress to the main summit, a link-up to the West Summit and from there a link-up to the Southwest summit.


Getting off the mountain means descending from there to the Isella Glacier, traversing the glacier to the base of the Holden Ridge, crossing over the ridge and descending down the Mary Green Glacier back down to Holden Lake.


Pictures of the trip can be viewed as a slideshow on proguiding.com


We thought the traverse was an awesome adventure that started with a great boatride from Chelan to Lucerne, a short bustrip to Holden and a liesurely hike to Holden Lake (5280 feet) . Getting to the lake took pretty much the whole day.

The next day we left the beautiful setting by the lake and followed the climbers trail to Holden Pass. From there we "cross countried" the short distance to the base of the Mary Green Glacier. The climbers right side of the glacier provided easy access to the base of the NE buttress. (8350 feet and about 3 hours from the lake)

The ridge became steep and narrow right away. The rock was solid, but very lichen covered. Not everything we grabbed was bomber, but the rock quality was good overall and easily judgeable. There were several spots where we climbed on or around the crest in the 5.7 range in wild exposure. We found a couple of old pins. It took us a little less than four hours on the ridge to the summit and I would say that the NE buttress alone is worth the trip back there.

From the true summit we descended NW on a steep and scary talus covered ridge for about 100 feet. Here we turned north and down-climbed to a very distinct notch via exposed 4th and easy 5th class. (The notch is where the south-face route comes up).

From here we stayed on the ridge or slightly on the north side of the ridge until we reached the base of a smaller summit about 150 feet of horizontal distance from the main summit. This section was wild and created one of the many highlights of the traverse. The Company Glacier was far below and we felt like we had been at it for a while, but we were nowhere near where we wanted to go.

The second half of the Main Summit to West Summit traverse eased up quite a bit. Exposure remained the same, but the climbing turned more into a 4th class "walk on the wild side".

(1.5 to 2 hours from the Main Summit to the West Summit)

On the West Summit we discovered an old tin can that had one perfect piece of paper with one entry on it. It was a1952 entry of two surveyors from the Stanford Alpine Club.

From the West Summit we continued towards the SW Summit on mediocre rock but easy terrain. After about 500 feet of ridge travel we found some great bivy spots, but no water. So we continued a little further to an area where the ridge narrowed substantially and the rock quality tested our nerves. In parts we were able to avoid the ridge on the north side. Eventually we got to a greenish tower that had a fresh looking break out zone on its north side. Here we found some snow, loaded up our stuff sacks and crossed over to the south side of the ridge. The terrain mellowed out substantially and my buddies noted low blood caffeine levels. So we called it good for the day. (The Beckey guide shows a great photo of the Isella Glacier with a high lying snowpatch just below the ridge crest. That was our bivy area. About 1.5 to 2 hours from the West Summit).

Avolio pointed out to our amazement that one could see the Puget Sound from our spot. Furthermore does the "apocaliptic glow of the megalopolis" seem unavoidable.... (Andy Dappen came up with that awesome term..)

The ambiance of the bivy site needs no explaining to whom has ever camped in similar spots in the Cascades. For the rest of you, I highly recommend it.

From the bivy site we descended the next morning in blustery conditions towards a notch at around 9000 feet.

This notch forms the top of a 1000 foot couloir which is used for the Isella Glacier route. I guess it could be used as a bail out option, but it seemed highly uninviting to us as a bad weather bail out....

From the notch we continued on easy ridges and ledges for a while until the steepening south face forced us onto the ridge. We followed the ridge for a little bit until an obvious talus filled gully on the northside let us make quick progress. The terrain stayed easy from here and guided us around to the south side. Towards the end we traversed under a steep wall until easy terrain let us proceed to the summit. (A surprisingly short 1 hour from the bivy spot).

From the SW summit we descended easy, but somewhat dangerous ledges down to the upper snowfields of the Isella Glacier. An irritating cliffband forced us to downclimb and rappel to the proper glacier.

From here we traversed high on the Isella Glacier towards the SW ridge (or Holden Ridge). A distinct chimney leads up to the saddle on the SW Ridge. (About 2 hours from the SW summit to here).

The chimney involved more real climbing than expected. It was about 5.7 at the bottom. The rock was solid, but had loose surface rock, so we pitched it out and climbed it one at a time. One full pitch got us to easy 4th class terrain that lead up to the col.

At this point we were tired of doing scary downclimbing and one long rappel brought us down to the safety of the Mary Green Glacier, or so we thought.

We did not anticipate the upper section of the Mary Green Glacier to be so "busy".

A little imagination got us down. (about 2 hours from the bottom of the chimney on the Isella side)

From here all we had to do is traverse the Mary Green to the North side and pick up our ascent route.

(about 2 hours down to Holden Lake)



The route is a full cascadian adventure in an amazingly spectacular setting. You get to climb on an exposed ridge at over 9000 feet for many hours.

Total movement time for us from Lake Holden to Lake Holden was about 19 hours. We bivied on the ridge a few hundred feet west of the West Summit.

We rate the total traverse at Grade V; 5.7/5.8 and have no idea if it has been done before. Just like on the Formidable Traverse there was no info about it in any guide book....?


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You guys are nuts but hardcore. Good work!

As an inside joke, my buddies and I call Bonanza "The Evil Octapus".


Excellent mountain to climb. thumbs_up.gif

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OMG! Sweet Work,Fellas!

You have a true taste for Choss.I know about that sw summit.

What an undertaking. I am willing to bet rent it hasnt been done before. .

Stunned for sure.


You guys stay away from my projects!!!

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