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snowleopard_x

Hardest Routes in the Cascades

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Curious to hear some thoughts on the hardest routes in the Cascades. I was thinking proper (volcanoes), but other routes are welcome (or you can create a new thread). Ones that come to mind in the volcanoes are:

Willis Wall (any route!) on Rainier.

Victory Ridge on Adams - According to Jeff Smoot this has yet to be climbed directly to this day!

Yocum Ridge on Hood.

Siberian Express (and Armenian Express) on Garibaldi.

West Ridge on Little Tahoma Peak.

Any others? Curious if anyone here has done any (no, I have not!).

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Do mean most dangerous, most technically difficult or hardest to find in good nick? Sunset Ampitheater Headwall is likely the most technically difficult route on the volcanoes. Willis Wall is just plain dangerous and Yocum Ridge is dificult to get proper icing conditions.

My vote for most difficult route in the Cascades is the Girth Pillar on Mt Stuart..technical difficulties to 5.11+, loose rock, frequent big avalanhes and rock fall, and a difficult approach via the Ice Cliff glacier.Having had one serious go around with route, I sure won't be back for another.

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The most difficult route in the Cascades is the one no one has done yet. Doing hard summer routes, such as NE Rib on Slesse, in the winter, would certainly make things more interesting.

Willis Wall, Yocum Ridge and routes like it were done back in the day (60s, 70s), and are completely within the possible for even the average climber. Armed with modern tools and protection (and weather forecasting), these routes are pretty much "well, how much objective hazard do you like? OK, then, off you go!"

 

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I don't know how much I'd agree that Willis Wall or Yocum are within reach of the average climber, even in good conditions with modern tools. Yocum is constantly steep, with the snow/ice almost impossible to protect by all accounts. Ice screws have improved, but pickets have not changed much in 30+ years. This is the route on my list I have looked at most closely. And it doesn't look at all average, even in perfect conditions.

I think what lends credence to my theory is that if it were doable for average climbers in good conditions, the routes would see more ascents than they do. Both these routes are still rarely climbed.

Agree completely though on your thoughts on the hardest routes being those not done yet. Willis Wall in winter, Yocum Ridge in late summer. Both seem impossible. Yet even Victory Ridge Direct has apparently yet to be done in any season!

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I agree completely with Alex. Snowleopard, once you've been to someplace that's for real, (Alaska, Andes, Himalayas, Candian Rockies)your perspective of what is difficult changes. Sure the Yocum seems hard if all you've ever done is some Cascades Volanoes. I know climbers of unexceptional ability that have done Willis wall. They made no fewer than six attempts in the winter, waiting for the right conditions. That's the real reason those routes are rarely done, the preserverance and timing involved in catching them in good nick. As for Victory Ridge, the 'direct' route is a pile of rubble.

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I've actually been to the Andes, and the Canadian Rockies (summer and winter). Also to the Tian Shan in Central Asia.

I guess I'm just sub-average by this definition.

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Large difference between "Hard" and "Dangerous". Like someone else said, you don't neccesarily have to be a great climber to tackle something with high objective hazard (i.e. Willis Wall). Endless climbs in the cascades that are hard but w/ relatively low objective hazard.

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I strongly agree with BRUKB that there is a difference between the technical difficulty of the route and the degree of dangerousness. Although I have no first hand experience with the Willis Wall, everything I've read seems to support rating any of the Willis route variations as being dangerous, but not particularly technical. They are typically rated an grade IV-V (although under certain conditions and times, Thermogenesis is rated a III), yet the objective hazards of frequent sweeping avalanches, high incidence of rock and ice fall, and the lack of view of storms approaching all add up to a very dangerous climb.

Dan, you're absolutely right...but I'd like to see if I can phrase it somewhat differently. What one perceives as dangerous is relative, based on experience. That can work both ways. The truly experienced alpinist may be scared witless by the high level of objective hazards of a particular route, whereas a novice or less experience climber may not even be aware of the danger or be minimally concerned.

So in the case of the Willis Wall routes, I suspect that relatively inexperienced climbers may be oblivious to the degree of objective hazards and just do the route. Sometimes the old saying "ignorance is bliss" is correct.

- Jim

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You bring up a good point SherpaJim on perception of danger, and how much it counts for. Along with that, take a look at Everest. Many people who are certainly not experts attempt it each year, some even make it. Something unthinkable 20 years ago. I wonder if Cerro Torre, or even K2 will someday be this way?

That said, we've gotten off topic here from the point of my original thread of just looking for some peoples ideas on hard routes in the Cascades, however one wishes to define that. And I thank you Brent for your succinct post.

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Daniel- your fooling yourself if you think Sunset Ampthitheater headwall is the hardest route on the volcanoes. Certainly there's harder routes on Rainier- Curtis Ridge, North Mowich Headwall, Liberty Wall (yeah I know it's dangerous, but it also involves climbing directly a vertical to overhanging 150' serac wall)to name a few.

And Girth Pillar is hard, but look closer in Beckey's guide (remember THAT book) or better yet go out in the Cascades; there are much, much more serious climbs than that one awaiting second ascents. It might be the hardest route in Jim's book, though. But is that all anyone knows around here?

 

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Blockhead or Snowleopard or Phil or whoever you are,

You are probably right, there are more difficult routes than the ones I mentioned. I was merely throwing out what came to my mind. I think to have a meaningful discussion it is imperative to define one's terms. I.e. how do you define hardest route; the one with the most objective danger, the one with the highest standard or rock climbing, etc. I was suggesting climbs that offer the full range of challanges facing the alpinist; ice, rock and objective hazards. Perhaps my perspective is limited as I haven't climbed anything that can be remotely described as 'difficult'. I would be interested to see what someone with long experience would have to offer this discussion. Then again, I don't think many hardmen (or hardwomen) really care about making lists of the hardest routes in the Cascades knowing that they are just a training ground for the greater ranges. Just my opinion, don't get your undies in a bunch.

Dan

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okay...

So perhaps my last post was a bit abrasive. Sorry!

Actually Daniel I liked everything else you've said in the above and other posts. And now you've hit the nail on the head...

This argument is far too subjective to come up with a definitive "list". There's the hardest rock climbs, hardest mixed, hardest winter climb, hardest aid, etc. And opinions and skill levels vary and yield bias. Perhaps snowleopard is just seeking a general opinion amongst the more experienced readers.

But I don't know that we can necessarily dismiss the hardest routes in the Cascades as unimportant and as nothing more than training for bigger ranges. Sure, nothing in the Cascades approaches Alaskan and Himalayan "hard" standards, but the Cascades are nonetheless a place that even a veteran could get his or her ass kicked all over the place.

A better question- Snowleopard, all due respect- what's the real point of this question?

 

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This has been a good debate, and there seem to be quite a few opinions about this also. How about this... if you haven't done so already, post what you believe to be the toughest route, and type: aid, ice, rock ... and we'll post a poll up here and let the masses speak!

Don't mean to put an end to this great argument err discussion, but hey, I just want to use this poll script I just set up, I'm a nerd :P

-Tim

climb@cascadeclimbers.com

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No, I am definately not Blockhead. A more accurate pesudonym for me would have to be "Pig Pen" anyway! wink.gif

As I noted a couple of posts ago, just looking for input on hard routes. However one wishes to define that. And in-between the arguing, some good ones have come out. Perhaps I should have titled the thread "Hard Routes in the Cascades", instead of "Hardest".

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How about the routes done by Pete Doorish and Dale Farnham on Mt. Index and Bear Mt. These look hard. Information in the Beckey guides.

Also the Ptarmigan Traverse, visiting the same summits as the original party. Unrepeated in 60 plus years indicates a rather high degree of dificulty.

Whats the best rock climb in Washington. The climb with the most quality climbing? The north ridge of Stuart?

------------------

pms

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another thread ressurection! thumbs_up.gif

 

Siberian Express (and Armenian Express) on Garibaldi.

 

routes which can and have been skiied cannot be difficult. boxing_smiley.gif

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Bear Mountain looks pretty damn hard to me. And Passenger on S. Early is 5.12, isn't it?

 

Leopard could do Willis Wall or Yokum Ridge, I bet. Neither is really technically difficult unless you try to stay right on the ridgecrest on Yokum, which few parties try to do. If it is the lack of solid pro on Yokum that makes it "most difficult," I bet the same could be said (but much worse) for the Norweigian Buttresses on Index - and they were done many years ago as well.

Edited by mattp

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Best? Maybe not the longest route around, but Davis Holland-Lovin' Arms surely ranks as one of the best in the State.

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A few ideas to throw around...

 

The Diamond on Bear.

Liberty Crack was done all free, a 12 pitch 13B.

Navigator Wall on Slesse.

Victory Ridge fully covered in thick rime.

Several routes on Rainier like a direct line up Liberty Wall.

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nav wall is not even the hardest route on slesse so cannot be a hardest in the cascades route

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The Hardest Routes in the Cascades are routes I would never do becuase I do not have the balls to do it. Here is one.

 

Mt. Triumph - North Face Central Rib

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