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[TR] Mt Buckner - North Face 7/13/2013


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Trip: Mt Buckner - North Face


Date: 7/13/2013


Trip Report:

Myself and three others climbed the North Face of Buckner on Saturday. We approached from Cascade Pass and spent Friday night at Sahale Arm. After a mildly stormy evening (where we learned that three can fit under a MSR Twin Sisters), the skies cleared as forecasted. We were moving by 4:15, just as the first glow was appearing over the horizon.


We crossed over Sahale while the sun was just climbing over the horizon and descended onto the Quien Sabe Glacier. The route then became unclear for us. Where to cross Boston Peak? The beta suggested that a loose 3rd class ramp would take us on the Boston Glacier approximately 200' below the summit. Not having the actual height of Boston to go from, we were left with the two other descriptors. Just how "loose" was loose? What qualified as a "ramp"? Beckey calls it "easy rocks"; sandbagger! To be blunt, I think we fouled this up crossing too low and therefore having to traverse farther and across less safe terrain. It is not an understatement to say that Boston is a total chosspile.


The march across to the base of Buckner went quickly, and we chose the North Face proper as the bergschund across the NF Couloir was totally open.


Climbing on the face was in stellar condition: Styrofoam snow from bottom to top. We were able to do it in three long running belays each with four pickets between belay point.


Around 11AM we popped out into the sunshine essentially at the summit.


The descent was via the Southwest Route and across Horseshoe Basin. The suggestion was to cross at 6400 feet which was easier said than done. It appeared that one could take the small finger of snow over the ridge line, but we chose instead to drop all the way under ridge that divides the Sahale and Davenport Glaciers. The final climb back to camp is a bit of a grunt. Nelson calls it 600 feet, but I think it is at least twice that from the toe of the ridge. We were back at camp by six, taking our time on the return.


Now for the photo onslaught. (I have conditions photos of J-Berg etc from camp as well as Boston Glacier if someone is interested).


Sahale Arm: the Glacier and Avalanche Lilies were in bloom, but no berries yet.



Dawn on the Sahale Glacier



If you imagine the summit as a gaping maw, we passed over the sleeping beast's tongue.



(The following photos loaded weird...)

Dropping down from Sahale onto the Quien Sabe glacier



Traverse to Boston



Is this the right "ledge"? What about this one? This looks like the best of the worst.



Starting up the North Face



And up...



And up some more...



Yeah, the climbing was that good.



We had followed tracks from an earlier party. I think I remember that the summit register had us as the fifth or sixth party this year.



Beautiful snow even to the summit in the sun



Traversing across Horseshoe Basin



Looking back at Buckner's SW route. Somewhere we passed by the old mine, but I did not see it. The desk ranger at Marblemount said that at one time there were plans to blast a rail tunnel under Buckner connecting Skagit Queen Mine to the Horseshoe Basin Mine. Can anyone verify this?



Our route in red



Gear Notes:

Two tools

6 pickets

Handful of screws (never used)



Approach Notes:

Snow free to Sahale Arm

Bivy spots are snow free and there is running/pooled water


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If you would have kept going on the ridge towards Boston you can basically step onto the glacier with zero shenanigans (I think it is the second notch left from the summit where you traverse down to the glacier). A little bit of rock, but nothing like you guys did.


More importantly, great work! That is a fun climb.

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Agree, coming back up to the Sahale arm from Horseshoe Basin is more like 1k ft, not 600ft, My GPS showed 7530 the high point on the arm before descending to 6540ft. in the basin. And this is using a steep ramp up to the ridge, you went even lower to the toe.

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