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[TR] Cutthroat Peak - S Buttress/SE Buttress 9/5/2012

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Trip: Cutthroat Peak - S Buttress/SE Buttress


Date: 9/5/2012


Trip Report:

Rough timeline:


6:10: left car

9:00: started roped climbing

14:40: summit

15:30: started descending

18:30: finished rappelling at the base of the gulley

20:05: back at the car


This is not a busy route and now I know the reason. Route finding was a challenge. I did plenty of homework and still was lost most of the time. We had the summitpost description, Beckey's description, as well as supertopo and it was hard to match the actual features to the descriptions and topo. All the descriptions are vague, too many variations are possible, and the route lacks distinctive features.


First we couldn't locate the "notch" where pitch 1 starts. I thought it would be on the crest. But it's more on the west side of the crest and above the northern approach gulley. It's definitely not 5.7, but rather mid class 5.

Then the next few "pitches" were confusing. We didn't know what to expect so we pitched out, but placed none or very few pros. It was definitely not worth roping up for at least 3 or 4 pitches. I was still looking for supertopo's pitch 7 when I realized that we were at the base of the "Tarzan leap" pitch (supertopo's pitch 12).


Supertopo calls the Tarzan leap pitch the crux at 5.8, and I would disagree. It's not as hard as a previous squeeze chimney, unless I was off route. I also don't understand why people call it "Tarzan leap". I didn't have to leap, I just traversed low and stepped down. My wife is 5'3" and even she didn't have to leap.


There are two notches between the sandy ledge between the humps and the true summit. I don't know how others do it, but if you climb directly out of the first notch, it looks very hard: overhanging and hard to protect. Instead, we walked down the loose gulley (class 3) towards west for 30 ft, turned right to an obvious opening, and scrambled up (class 4 or very low class 5) into the second notch. There is no 5.7+ boulder moves out of the notch, and there is no down climbing into the second notch.


The 5.7 layback slab on the final pitch is probably the only hard-ish move on the route that doesn't protect well. The famous OW on the final pitch is fun. If you are a solid 5.8 crack/layback leader, you can get away without a 4" pro.


The rap route needs some work. There are too many rap slings scattered around and I suspect many lead to nowhere. Yet you sometimes need to scramble quite a bit to the next one. It wasn't completely straight-forward, at least the lower part. We got our rope stuck at one place. I had to redo that pitch to free the rope.


In general, the route is technically easy for its 5.7/5.8 grade. Most crux moves are burly rather than delicate.


Sorry that we didn't take pictures. We were too busy with the route finding. If I were to do it again, I'd take pictures at every belay station and draw the climbing route on them.


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Good job of describing! When I did this climb in 1974, we also found route finding to be challenging. All I recall using was Beckey's description, and when on the climb as you mentioned, the somewhat ambiguous features given are not very obvious. But I do recall it being a fun climb, even though I had just had some surgery and wasn't too comfortable on one end(for a thrombosed hemorrhoid....yikes!)

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Any other routes on that peak you would recommend over that one? Thinking about that one this week, but I want it to be pretty straightforward and fun.


The truth of it is, I haven't been above treeline all Summer and I'm looking for something awesome. 5.7ish Grade 2 with a Cascade Hwy approach, (I'm in Bellingham.) :crazy:

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