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John Frieh

first winter ascent [TR] Three Fingers - Northeast Face (FA); FWA North Peak 2/3/2007

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Trip: Three Fingers - Northeast Face (FA); FWA North Peak


Date: 2/3/2007




First Ascent of the Northeast Face Three Fingers WI4+, M3 Grade IV. Feb 3rd 2007 Dave Burdick and John Frieh


We believe this was the FWA of the North Peak of Three Fingers by any route. Also... we both wanted to make sure and tag the high point which prior to today we both thought was the south summit. By the time we reached the top of the ice the weather was already crapping out so we hit the North peak instead (which I think most would agree is the more aesthetic finish to the route). Dave checked today and according to Beckey's book the North peak has been the true summit since 1931 as in 31 they blasted 15 feet off the south peak, thus making it lower so we did the highest summit by accident I guess!?!? Hopefully someone can provide some further insight on either one of these...


Northeast Face of Three Fingers courtesy of the great John Scurlock:



topo (dots mark approximate belays):



Conditions the week prior (taken jan 28th):



Quick note for the newbs: Comparing John Scurlock's photo (top pic) with the conditions last week photo is a great illustration of how foreshortening works.


blah blah blah:

Ummm... where to start?


Dave, Micah and Keith attempted this line some time last year (2006) but a combination of factors (deep snow, later start, etc) resulted in them coming up short...


Jump forward a year. Dave, Pax, Keith and myself hiked in last Sat Jan 27th. With a little work we managed to get to the trailhead.



WA state representatives:



We hiked in and camped in the valley below the face at the last available running water.



Dave and myself headed up the following morning... we had just gained the glacier when a healthy avy came down near the entrance to the couloir... we took a vote and bailed. On the hike down Dave and I joked about the bad luck the two of us have had with avyies (we've bagged a few attempts in the years due to avy) and this came out of it (Alpinedave's excellent artwork):


Stay tuned for Volume 2! :P:laf:


Never the less as bad as it sucks to get skunked we agreed we needed to come back before this weather window expired (which according to NOAA was roughly noon on Saturday) as the route looked to be in great shape. So Saturday it was! We left the car at 2 on Saturday and made good time to the face thanks in part to the boot pack we had installed the weekend prior and a full moon to light our way:



We managed to find the access couloir that gains the glacier with relative ease and traversed over to the start of the route. We started the NE face couloir about first light. Dave fired through the initial step (a wee bit of 3/3+) and when the rope ran we began simuling. We covered approximately 1000' of mostly neve mixed with patches of ice and snow before arriving at the ice step.


Dave on the initial step that starts the couloir:



Lower couloir:




So the ice... 600' of fat ice as blue as your balls are going to be after you look at the pics :grlaf:


Pitch 1:




Pitch 2:





Looking down from the top of 2:



Pitch 3:




Pitch 1 was solid 4+... I could see it easily being a 5 in thinner conditions. Pitch 2 was 3+ and Pitch 3 was a 4. All 3 pitches were 60 m in length minimum (we climbed on a 70 m).


From the top of the ice step we simul slogged for the north summit.


To The Top!



We encountered a short mixed step followed by a ramp that put us on top :rawk:


The mixed step:



The ramp:



Dave on top :)



So we had topped the ice around noon and it started lightly snowing at 12:05 (why is it that NOAA is always right when ever you hope they are wrong :P:laf:). We summited the north peak at 1:30 and by this time it was a healthy snowfall... we took a quick snack break and headed for home.


Marco Polo on the descent:



We wasted some time finding the access couloir that connects the glacier to the valley floor but we managed to find it before dark and followed our boot pack out and headed to Darrington for burritos at the Shell Station :chebit:


Gear Notes:

11 screws :noway:

1 picket (used a few times)


Rock gear we brought:

4 cams to #2 camalot

7 nuts


Rock gear we used:

.75 and #1 camalot

few nuts (larger size)


Dave would likely recommend 1 set of ear plugs for this route or for that matter any route you climb with me :P ... 2 sets if I have dehydrated food for dinner :mistat::o:laf:


Approach Notes:



Music Notes

Pete Murray, Bloc Party

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Been up there a couple times but, of course, only in the summer, and my understanding is, as you say, that the north peak is now the highest.


Outstanding accomplishment.

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Yup! Somebody pull my finger...quick!


Finger pulled, Colonel Mustard! :crosseye:

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Holy Shit, I had to change my pants after looking at those pictures of the ice. You weren't kidding with the blue balls thing!

Edited by jordansahls

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not having to carry snowshoes and knowing the approach is aid.


Even if you put in the trail the week before?


Nice job Dave and John! can you explain teh descent a little more vis-a-vis your photo or topo? Rap the route with V threads?


Why the hell were people blowing up the summit of 3-fingers in 1931?

Edited by Blake

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Nice work gentlemen! The"Slipstream" of the North Cascades has been climbed.


Looks like you hit it in absolutely stellar conditions.


Having been in there in the winter all I can say is, That is a hell of a lot of ground to cover in one day!

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Nice: love this bit of humor too:




Sometime when you're drinking, you should flesh that out. Damn funny!



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not having to carry snowshoes and knowing the approach is aid.


Even if you put in the trail the week before?


Siege tactics!!

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