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Martin Volken

[TR] Chair Peak, Cascades - Chair Peak West Ridge - new route 7/25/2007

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Trip: Chair Peak, Cascades - Chair Peak West Ridge - new route


Date: 7/25/2007


Trip Report:

Chair Peak West Ridge:[/b]


I did this route a few years back with by now IFMGA guides Nick Pope and Olivia Caussen as part a guides training weekend. There was no sign of past traffic on the route other than a pin that I had left on descent of the West Ridge on a guided climb. I then did the route again last year a couple of times and cleaned it. I think it is a really worthy day trip from the Seattle area. It offers a lot more real climbing than the NE buttress, is more diverse and committing.

It involves 5.7 climbing and exposed ridge travel. The route is just long enough to make it worth the trouble. Enjoy.

Route description:

The route starts at the base of a narrow 220 foot couloir that goes up to the lowest spot of the West Ridge just east of a distinct tower. The first 15 meters accessing the actual couloir does not offer pro, but never gets hard. Then climb up with good pro (5.7) to within a short distance of the ridge crest. Stay left where the couloir splits near the top and find a couple of hammered-in nuts and older biners. Good anchor possibilities here. From here climb up and right around a steep bulge to the ridge crest.

From here traverse left over third class terrain (short rope) until you are under an obvious couloir that is capped with two chock stones. Go up the couloir and under the chock stones to the notch. Lower chock stone is loose! At notch turn right and climb a couple of short pitches (5.7) to the base of a short slab (two pins here). Stay on ridge to the base of a short 10 foot headwall with poor pro (exposed). Climb up and around a bit left, then immediately back to the ridge. Keep on ridge crest now to avoid loose rock.

The ridge levels off and a short down climb gets you into a notch with short trees. Traverse easy ground on the north side for about 15 meters, then back up to the ridge crest. Now stay on the ridge crest on shattered but easy rock until you hit the false summit.

From the false summit climb down easy ground just a bit, then traverse the narrow ridge staying on the north side. This is easy but exposed ground. This will bring you to a small notch. Climb easy ground to a knob, then down to the notch between the false and true summit. One easy pitch to the summit from here.

3 to 4 four hours from route entrance to the summit. Grade III/5.7

Descent: use the standard descent couloir down the south side which leads to the narrow rappel gully that brings you back into the upper Chair Peak basin. (1 to 2 hours from the summit back to the Chair Peak basin.



Gear Notes:

Equipment: 60 meter rope, medium size alpine rack. Light crampons and light axe until middle of summer.



Approach Notes:


Go to the far west end to the Chair Peak via the standard approach route that you would use to get to the NE buttress route. From the base below the NE buttress keep traversing on slabby and in early season snowy and potentially glide cracked terrain to the base of the route. 2 to 2.5 hours from the car

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The rock quality is very good in the lower couloir, then poor on the short 3rd class section to the chockstone gullly, then good on the 5.7 ridge climbing section, then pretty mediocre on the rest. All in all it is good where it needs to be and if more folks go and do the route, it will be pretty clean all over.

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climbed this route today and definitely agree that it's a fun day out. that said, i won't be rushing back anytime soon to do it again.


overall, the climbing feels more alpine than most summer climbs in the snoqualmie area, and the rock quality is about on par with thompson, if not slightly worse in sections. the best rock was probably low on p1 and on a nice knife edge near the summit.


we didn't have a route description with us, but reading the beta now, i think we climbed something slightly different than what is described here after the top of the chockstone chimney.


only fixed pin we encountered en route was adjacent to the hammered in nuts at the top of p1. my partner found an old 1/4 inch bolt on one of his leads right on the ridge crest. is it possible that this route is the northwest ridge as described by beckey?


sidenote: we found so much booty at the base of the north face of chair... a 60m half rope, an ice screw, several 'biners, an old kletterschuhe, and an ice axe!

Edited by cam yarder

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Just did this route today. Martin's beta is good, so follow that.


The West Ridge (or perhaps it's the NW Ridge) has an amazing position and that alone makes it worth doing. Yes, the rock quality is lacking in a number of locations on the route, but we just kept saying how rad it was to be up there. Some cautious trundling would definitely increase the quality of the line and a wire brush on the slabby bits would help too!


There are 3 pins on the route, but we found no bolts (weren't looking either). One is a very old ring pin about 3 feet from Martin's two fixed stopper-heads at the end of the first pitch. The other two are on the very crest of the rib about 100' past the chockstone chimney (from the chockstone, stay directly on the crest for about one full pitch).


We descended via the SE gully (winter descent route) via downclimbing to the notch (4th class), then two 30m rappels down the gully (skip the first anchor and walk down to the second anchor). Loose rock abounds in the gully, so pick your anchors wisely to be safe from rockfall when pulling the rope. A series of shorter rappels may be more suitable for other parties (lots of anchors in place, especially under the chockstones). Easy, but shifting talus leads back to the Thumbtack.



Singles to 2". Used the purple TCU a couple times.

60 meter rope. A 70M, however, allows you to reach the crest on pitch 1 and gives you other rappel options.


Pitch 3 or 4 (with 2 pins)



The upper Ridge


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Hey Kurt,


How much snow is left beneath chair? I feel like doing some patch skiing but don't feel like driving far. Thanks.

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