Jump to content

[TR] 6 Days and 6 Routes in the Pasayten Wilderness- Part 2 7/28/2004


Recommended Posts

Climb: 6 Days and 6 Routes in the Pasayten Wilderness-Part 2


Date of Climb: 7/28/2004


Trip Report:

Part 1



Day 4 continued, Monday July 24th


...after passing through the strange clearing in the forest we wandered through more open meadows, huge larch trees and beautiful flowers.




Good game trails made for fast hiking and with careful route finding we stood on the shore of Upper Cathedral Lake less than four hours after leaving Wall Creek.


Cathedral Peak above Cathedral Lake




This area is popular with horsepackers and we saw several such groups. The typical approaches are at least 20 miles and seem to keep out those who choose to walk. We observed only one backpacker and no other climbers during our stay.


Camp was established in a larch tree and boulder strewn meadow on the east side of the lake and we celebrated our arrival by breaking out the horsecock sandwiches and Jaigermeister we had so carefully horded during the first half of the trip.


While Cathedral Peak was the big draw to the area we were amazed by how close the north-facing buttresses of Amphitheatre Mountain stood above the lake. Unfortunately the rock had significant hues of red and stood above slopes of talus and dirt. Both indicated less than spectacular rock. We decided to at least scout the creatively named Left-Side Route of Middle Finger Buttress. At 3 PM we shouldered our gear and hiked around the lake and up to the route in about 10 minutes. What we found was no less than spectacular.


Middle Finger Buttress - Left Side Route




Owen standing at the base of Middle Finger Buttress – Left Side Route




The climb starts in an obvious right-leaning chimney near the left side of the buttress. After our practice on Grimface I quickly led the classic chimney and established a belay on a nice grassy ledge. The rock was perfect. Owen climbed up, shoulder the rack and proceed to fire off the single best pitch of mid-5.10 crack climbing I have ever done - anywhere. It is that good.




After 30 meters he established a belay on a sloping ledge and hauled the pack. As per the Red Beckey Guide, from the belay we moved left, then up a steep crack system to another ledge. Rather than move left again we stepped back right into the continuation of the crux dihedral and climbed a very nice hand crack to the upper low angle ridge. Described as 4th class we discovered that 1970’s 4th class rock is more like 5.5. Regardless the position was excellent, the rock was solid and a good time was had by all as we tossed the occasional perched block into the abyss.


On the “4th class” ridgeline




The route is CLASSIC and deserves far more attention. It alone is worth the long approach. Once on top make sure to hike to the north summit of Amphitheatre Mountain, it is as sublime a place as I have ever been. To descend head east until you can drop down the obvious scree gully below a wide col. With a little bit of scree surfing it is no more than 20 minutes back to camp.


Day 5 July 27, 2004


Southeast Buttress of Cathedral




We woke up early and headed out on the extremely tiring, essentially flat 20 minute approach to the Southeast Buttress of Cathedral Peak. The route looked stellar and proved not to disappoint. Using beta posted years ago on CC.com we started from the top of a table size bolder located in an alcove maybe 150 feet up the gully between Cathedral and the Monk. We climbed nine long pitches to the summit. All but one featured great crack climbing on steep solid rock. The headwall of pitch 7 and 8 was impeccable. We bypassed the crux offwidth by a perfect 5.10a finger crack just to it’s right.


Approaching the Headwall




On Pitch 2 of the Headwall




A recently placed summit register recorded no other ascents in the previous three weeks. Slightly shorter and with a lower level of commitment it’s sort of the kid sister

to the Beckey-Chouinard on South Howser Tower with perfect granite, steep moderate crack climbing and a white headwall to boot, except the climbing was higher quality. A confusing descent to the west and another long scree-surf brought us back to camp by early afternoon.


Ka’aba Buttress “Pilgrimage to Mecca”




After swimming and sunbathing for couple hours we still had a long chunk of the evening to kill. It wasn’t very hard to convince Owen that we should climb an obvious series of cracks and dihedrals on the left side of Ka’aba Buttress. It helped that the base of the route was no more than five minutes from camp.


Owen starting up Pitch 1




Owen following Pitch 2




After climbing four pitches of great crack climbing on more perfect rock we were back in camp maybe three hours after we left. The third pitch was particularly good following a great finger crack up a solid dihedral before stepping left and climbing steep twin hand cracks. At any crag this would be an extremely popular **** pitch.


There was no sign of previous ascents and to our surprise the description of the Doorish Route on the buttress did not match what we had done. On the other hand it’s hard to believe that such a stellar, obvious and accessible line has never been climbed. Regardless I claim the FSTA (First To Spray Ascent). If you’re in the area it makes a great half-day climb and a good warm-up for the Southeast Buttress of Cathedral Peak.


Route Description


Ka’aba Buttress “Pilgrimage to Mecca” Grade II 5.9


P1) Start from top of large block at buttress toe. Follow L-trending dihedral then cross low-angle slab split by triple cracks. Belay below L-side of obvious roof (170’ 5.7).

P2) Traverse left then undercling obvious wide crack into L-facing dihedral. Climb a steep corner at the dihedrals top and step left to a large grassy belay ledge (130’ 5.9).

P3) Climb the beautiful R-trending dihedral for 80’ then move left to steep, twin hand cracks. Stay with the right one to another large belay ledge, a **** pitch (160’ 5.8+).

P4) Climb the L-facing corner just left of the obvious offwidth on the crest. Near the top move right to stemming moves and easier terrain (130’ 5.8).


P2 var) A much better looking second pitch would layback the right side of the block vs underclinging it then follow a L-trending ramp/dihedral to the same belay (5.8?)


That evening we ate our last supper by a small tarn and reflected on what an amazing trip we had experienced.





The last day July 28, 2004


The hike out went far to quickly. More stunning meadows, beautiful vistas and a complete lack of human impact. We made it back to the car in less than six hours. In the last mile of hiking we met a stocky, powerfully built man of at least sixty years in age. He was excited to hear about where we had been and knew the area well. Turned out it was Bob Cuthbert! We had just climbed some of the routes he established thirty years prior. What a great way to end the trip, meeting one of the legends that first realized the area’s potential for climbing.











Gear Notes:

Medium Rack to 4" for everying. An extra 0.5 and 0.75 Camalot for MFB - L Side. An extra 2.5" piece for Ka'aba Buttress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did you guys see any game in there?


A scraggliy looking deer hung close the entire time we were at Cathedral Lakes, just waiting for us to urinate. A mountai goat passed by looking for the same. Other than that no, I was little surprised considering the amount of game trail we followed. Maybe it was too hot out?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...
Hey Darin, mind doin whatcha did there with all the other formations in the park, getting some topos nailed down, talking to Doorish et al, finally settling the discrepancies and lost/unrecorded routes, makin up a nice guidebook, hmm?


why not just wait 6 months for fred's guide. confused.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Darin, mind doin whatcha did there with all the other formations in the park, getting some topos nailed down, talking to Doorish et al, finally settling the discrepancies and lost/unrecorded routes, makin up a nice guidebook, hmm?


why not just wait 6 months for fred's guide. confused.gif


Thought you said Fred was waitin for a bit? Besides, he won't have Darin's "strokingly-lucious-no-guesswork" phototopos rockband.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 15 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...