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[TR] Pica Peak near Wa Pass- ENE ridge aka Blue Buttress 7/20/2003

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Climb: Pica Peak near Wa Pass-ENE ridge aka Blue Buttress


Date of Climb: 7/20/2003


Trip Report:

In keeping with my motivation to steer folks onto some other high quality routes in the WApa area here is some more route beta for a fun moderate climb.


Poster Peak is the local name for a small but distinct rock peak (7565ft) located 1.5km ESE of Blue peak. Beckey calls this Pica so for clarity I will too. When viewed from the hairpin turn on Hwy 20 below the EW spires this peak shows as an attractive symetric peak at the far south end of the flatish ridge extending toward Kangaroo Pass from Blue peak.


Beckey makes a somewhat obscure reference to what seems to be this peak in the red book on page 313 hidden in a description of Copper peak. He lists two routes; the NE and SE ridges. In fact the SE ridge is actually facing ENE. The NE ridge is a decent climb but somewhat mixed rock quality and variable in its difficulty.

I recommend the ENE ridge which is the one described here. When viewed from the hairpin turn it shows as the obvious left hand skyline.


Climb the ridge staying on the crest as much as possible. instead of tackling the toe of theb butt head on which yields some poor rock; walk left around the toe untill it is possible to traverse back right on easy ledges to the ridge crest. From there you will find about 8-10 pitches of 4th to mid 5th class climbing on generally good rock. The butt steepens near the top and gives better climbing for the last couple of pitches at around 5.5-5.6 but the whole thing is a fun romp on a pretty mountain. Just look for the cleanest line and go!


Descent is a walk off to the S to the notch and down the easy east side gully and bowl back to the base of the route. Couldn't be more user friendly.


Again, I hate to disappoint all of you who aspire to climb the S arete on SEW spire but this is a way better route (being cleaner and more sustained) and you won't be standing in line or having other parties trundling on to you. So if the Blue Lake parking lot is full and you can be sure that the S arete and the Beckey route on Lib Bell will be crowded you might as well try something different. It has easy route finding, good pro when you need it, convenient belay spots. All in all a great beginer alpine route.


Beckey's obscure reference claims a 1973 ascent of the SE ridge which must be this route. The climb is locally known as Blue Buttress and for clarity I have kept that name since Beckey shows no name and mislabeled the direction.


Gear Notes:

Standard rack to 3". 45-60m rope will work fine.


Approach Notes:

Park at the hairpin pull out below SEW spire. Find trail to Kangaroo Pass that generally follows the right (W) side of the valley. By keeping Pica Peak in view you can see the approach to the ENE ridge untill just below it as steeper ground may obscure the view. Leave the trail and scramble up and S till directly under the toe of the Butt. Beware that the first ridge toe you come to will be the NE ridge and it is a bit lower and N of the objective ridge. Keep going till the ENE ridge comes into view. Should take 45min -1 hour from hairpin.


NOTE: The NE ridge is steep at the bottom and has some scary loose down sloppy 5.8 climbing protected only by a few fixed pins. After that pitch it is very easy for a long way with 2-3 fun pitches at the top.


Over all Blue Buttress is a much more aesthetic climb.

So start exploring some of the other fun possibilities out there.


Scott Johnston

North Cascades Mountain Guides

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...you won't be standing in line or having other parties trundling on to you.


I wouldn't be so sure about that anymore! yelrotflmao.gifyelrotflmao.gif


Looks like my fiance and I might have a new objective on our way to a wedding in Winthrop here in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the detailed beta!



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A TR for an obscure peak (though many a WA Pass climber has seen it). My kind of TR...and peak. thumbs_up.gif

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