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Intro winter alpine routes?


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This spring/summer my partner and I climbed Baker and Rainier by the easy routes, and R&D in Leavenworth as well as most of the low 5th single pitch in the area. During the rest of the summer we hope to tick off a few more of the intro rock routes like The Tooth and North Ingalls, etc.


My question is what would be some good beginner winter routes for a pair of noobs without anyone rope-gunning for us? We are meticulous about safety so I'm not really concerned about getting in too far over our heads, but I want to make the most of our time and not waste days bailing on routes we aren't ready for. These are on my radar so far:

  • Lane Peak couloirs
  • Guye Peak South Gully
  • Tooth NE Slab
  • Chair North Face

Based on pictures and reading TRs, I think we could handle Lane and maybe Guye, but I'm not sure if we would get spanked on the others. I spent a day last winter noodling around with my tools in the Source Lake area and that was useful, but we would like to have some clearer objectives that are likely attainable.



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NE Slab of the Tooth is not something I would recommend, it is very conditional, often not well protected. NE Buttress on Chair I have found enjoys a longer season than the NF.


I started compiling a list of winter climbs, many of which are good in late fall and early spring. Here are a few you might be interested in:


Colfax Peak

Cosley-Houston Route


West Twin Sister

West Ridge


Mt Shuksan

North Face

NW Couloir


Silver Star Mountain

West Face Central Couloir


South Early Winter Spire

South West Couloir


North Early Winter Spire

Early Winters Couloir (East Face)


Eldorado Peak

NW Ice Couloir


Davis Peak

NW Face Couloir http://www.ademiller.com/climbing/galle ... /index.htm


Mixup Peak

West Face Couloir


Dragontail Peak

NE Couloir http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthr'>http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthr ... ber=853017

Triple Couloirs

Direct North Face


Colchuck Peak

NE Couloir

North Ridge Couloir


Argonaut Peak

NE Couloir


Mt Stuart

Stuart Glacier Couloir


Chair Peak

NE Buttress

North Face


Bryant Peak

North Face


Abiel Peak

North Face (several)


Mt Kent

North Face (several) http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthr ... ber=868676


Lane Peak

The Zipper

The Fly


Pinnacle Peak (Tatoosh Range)

North Ridge



Mt Hood

North Face (Two options)

Reid Glacier Headwall


Silver Star Mountain - West Face Central Couloir III AI2 M4


Hall Peak - NW Face III 5.6 WI3



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Hmm, I dunno about Tooth NE slab being a "beginner" winter route if conditions are thin, which they seem to always be. I've been up twice and both times that traverse pitch was pretty hairball -- just thin ice over slab. If you're trying to avoid having to waste time bailing, I dunno if I would count on that route because thin conditions seem to be pretty normal


Add Colchuck NEC to your list

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If I were you I'd go to The Canadian Rockies or Montana in the late fall to get some time on vertical ice and get comfortable swinging tools and placing ice pro and such. I think you would enjoy winter alpine climbing more if your skills are solid.

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+1 to going to canadian rockies. much better & reliable ice to climb on.


But if you must stay around here, there are tons of winter lines to do. Winter adds a layer of difficulty to everything so just about every valley has a good beginner winter line in it. For example, find any ole peak that is reasonable accessible, and pick the easiest line on it. Voila, you have a good winter route to try.


Since you are in seattle, I would suggest you tromp all over the snoq pass area. Try bryant peak, the tooth, hemlock and even the descent route on chair. ( I once saw some of the thickest WA ice ever in that gulley) Guye has tough routes on the south side too. Snoqualmie pk. McClellan butte. Abiel. Silver. Ect.


There must be enough routes to do from the alpental parking lot to keep a beginner alpinist busy for a couple years. Just have to get beyond the select guides and look into the beckey guides.


Dallas Kloke once published a winter climbing guide to western wa and the premise was that smaller neglected peaks made fine winter objectives. If you can find someone who would print you a copy of that, you would be set up for decades of winter suffering.

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