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Tom_Sjolseth

Washington's Most Difficult Peaks

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The late Dallas Kloke, a Cascades pioneer, drew up a list of the most difficult summits to climb in Washington by their easiest route. I saw it a few years ago and was intrigued by the list, but have since lost track of it and can no longer find it online.

 

I believe I have 9 of them figured out, but can't figure out the 10th for sure. Does anyone have a copy of this list?

 

This is what I was able to recollect (in order of difficulty in my opinion):

 

1) Middle Index

2) Lincoln Peak

3) Nooksack Tower

4) Inspiration Peak

5) Hozomeen Mountain (South Peak)

6) Mt. Fury (West Peak)

7) Mox Peak (SE Peak)

8) Johannesburg Mountain

9) Burgundy Spire

 

The 10th could be Gunsight, but if anyone knows for sure and has a copy of the list, it would be neat to have it.

 

Has anyone else climbed all 10 of these peaks?

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i love jberg, but seems odd to have it on the list, given its close proximity to the road and the fact that the e ridge route is essentially just a real long scramble

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Blake, isn't the easiest route on Anonymity Tower 5.5? I agree that Burgundy is an outlier in that it has such an easy approach. So you're reasoning that AT has a longer approach and is almost as technically difficult as Burgundy? I could see that. I do think it's hard to omit Burgundy in that it's unique -- it's the only peak I know of in the state that requires 5.8 rock climbing to summit - granted, it's not super sustained, but it is 5.8.

 

ivan, I concur that J-Berg maybe shouldn't be on the list, because you can climb the E Ridge (or gullies adjacent to it) without doing much more than a move or two of low fifth. It is a rugged and complex and intimidating mountain though, and I know it was pretty special to Dallas, so understand how it could have made the list.

 

If it were my list, I'd tweak it a bit, swapping Johannesburg for Lemolo, and I would add Assassin Spire to the #1 or #2 spot. I'd probably round out those 9 peaks with Gunsight Peak to make 10.

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Someone must have the Kloke list!

I wish I would have wrote it down, I thought I would always be able to call him on the phone and get beta(or a guide)!

 

I recall him speaking about the 10 in question and I think you are on track Tom. I know everyone has an opinion about what these peaks should be but I believe we are looking for what Dallas thought they where. It is important to remember that when Dallas did most of these peaks it was long before all the advances in gear and instant internet beta. A peak does not have to be technically hard to be a tough and dangerous climb. The most stressful climb I ever did with Dallas was Lincoln Peak(his second time) and we only roped up for 2 pitches. The down climb was long and scary, it is hard to believe the first time Dallas did Lincoln he only used one axe.

 

I do recall the 6 peaks that Dallas called the Terrible 6, these were all peaks that could be done with one or less bivy, and was essential for any Cascades hard man

 

Middle Index

Lincoln

Nooksack Tower

J-berg

Big Four

Boston

 

As for the 10 most difficult, knowing Kloke it was probably something that kept evolving, and he was a great recorder of detail.

 

You may be the only other guy who has ticked the list Tom, Sweet!

 

 

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Thanks for your input Scott. I agree, there are several factors in determining the difficulty of a peak. While it's interesting to hear others' opinions on how they'd tweak the list in their view, this post really was meant to identify the peaks on the original Kloke list (and the order).

 

I agree with your assessment on Lincoln.. scary is the word that comes to my mind the most. We were in a 12' deep avalanche trough for about 2 hours on one attempt with nowhere to escape if stuff started coming down. At one point, we exited the trough briefly to take a break on a rock island. It was then that a sluffalanche came down that, if we were still climbing in the trough, would have swept us all to our deaths. The mountain just doesn't come into virtually safe conditions, ever.

 

That to me is a difficult summit to reach.

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So, they aren't going by rating as you have JBerg, S. Hozemeen, and West Fury on there. All three of them are class 4 and below by their easiest route.

 

I would put Chimney Rock on there. Its harder than Gunsight. Gunsight is 5.0 by its easiest route. Chimney rock by its easiest route requires stemming for a long ways, 120ft, in its North 4ft wide DEEP chimney. Not sure how on earth stemming a chimney is considered class 4 in Becky world, but in most folks world its 5.0+

 

Obviously there are many peaks that are far harder than class 4 on their top portions that did not make the list. I can think of several off the top of my head that would be "harder" than JBerg, S. Hozemeen, and W. Fury. Heck Challenger in the Pickets is "harder". So is Terror, let alone bruisers like E. McMillian.

 

Dark is 5.0+. Bears Breast is 5.0. Spire is 5.0. Gunsight is 5.0. Forbidden is harder than JBerg in the same proximity. Where is Goode on that list? It has 5.0 on its easiest route as well. Surely there are several in the Enchantments that are harder than 5.0 by their easiest route! Redoubt has class 5 on it, though very short. Probably about equivalent to JBERG. I believe Tushpin is 5.0 or greater as well. These peaks are all off the top of my head very early in the morning.

 

Enjoy. I am sure I missed several.

 

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I'm pretty sure Dallas meant hardest summits to reach, not hardest rock climbing by the easiest route. There is zero rock climbing at all on Lincoln Peak and none of the climbing is very technical, but the summit is definitely one of the hardest to reach.

 

S Hozomeen does have some 5th class on its easiest route and a reasonably complex approach. The routefinding is some of the most difficult of any peak I've been on.

 

I thought about Chimney Rock and its probably in the top 15, but I think Gunsight is harder (way longer approach, tougher routefinding, dangerous & difficult gully to get up to the climbing route).

 

Forbidden a harder summit to reach than J-Berg? I disagree. Go make both of them into a daytrip and tell me which day seemed harder.

 

In fact I've climbed every peak you mention (as well as at least nine of the peaks on the original Kloke list) and, despite being highly subjective, I believe the list is pretty accurate.

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I am in the process of scanning all of Dallas's climbing journals/logs (spanning 50 years!!). He has lists upon lists in these little black books, I will try and see what I can find.....

 

I would love to be able to post these online, but I am not sure what the family's wishes are at this time. Stay tuned.

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Oh, and for my two cents on the list, I think you have to take into consideration how you feel on the ascent (I'm pretty sure this is what Dallas was getting at). It is much more than just the numbers- loose rock, brush, uncertain route finding, brutal approach, objective hazard, etc. play an important role. All of the factors mentioned conspire to beat you down mentally and physically on the climbs that Dallas listed. Thus peaks like J'berg, West Fury, S. Hozemeen, etc......but not something like Challenger that has a long approach, and some 5th class climbing, but is actually a walk in the park in comparison.

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Wisely said Jason. These peaks in question are far more serious than there numbers would lead you believe. And Toms Forbidden/J-berg comparison is a perfect example. Dallas was not a numbers climbers. There must be some reason why his route on the NF of The Triad has never been repeated(to my knowledge), even though its only 5.6

I think it is important to aspire to the achievements of the Old Guard, because a list like Klokes is something that a committed, bold NW climber could pull off with a lot of time and a little luck(Tom). We could all look to climbers like Colin Haley and Blake Herrington to set the bar, but the reality is, most of will never climb at that level, and if we could we would probably head off for the greater ranges.

The Kloke list, in all its forms is a perfect tick for the employed Cascade Hard Man or Women to aspire to in a lifetime of climbing.

 

This is fun though. to see all the ideas. Dallas would appreciate the banter!

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Other possibilities since I'm not clear on the criteria:

 

Southwest Peak of Hozomeen Mountain

East Peak of Fifes Peaks

The Flagpole (Annapurna)

Pole of Remoteness

Assassin Spire

Seahpo Peak

 

...Sherpa Balanced Rock :D

 

...The Dome in the crater of Mt. St. Helens :ooo:

 

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For those of you interested in the list (and others like it), you can read about it here. A web page will load at first which looks like an error, but wait for about 10 seconds and the correct page will load.

 

The 10th peak on the list is N Index, the other 9 are correct.

 

 

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It doesn't belong on this list but the easiest route up Exfoliation Dome in Darrington has roughly 6 pitches of belayed climbing and ten feet of 5.8 or so. And this is an obscure route not described anywhere and almost never climbed. The "standard" route has about ten pitches of real rock climbing and is also rated 5.8 but probably has a 5.9 move.

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For those of you interested in the list (and others like it), you can read about it here. A web page will load at first which looks like an error, but wait for about 10 seconds and the correct page will load.

 

The 10th peak on the list is N Index, the other 9 are correct.

 

 

Awesome, thanks for putting that up Tom!

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