We spent the first summer of our trip in the Cascades again. This time - and unlike on our first bus trip there - we climbed mainly in the North Cascades.
On our first visit in 2003, we happened on the driest summer on record, which may have given us the wrong impression of the local weather... This time around, the summer was quite wet and we found ourselves doing a lot of waiting for the occasional stretch of good weather. Still, we managed to log in a couple of overnight trips with postcard-blue skies.
Anything in red on the map below can be "clicked" on for a summary report and related photographs.
We arrived late June and did a couple of day climbs to get comfortable on snow again and get in shape for the infamous cascade approaches... We started our trip in the Darrington area, initially hoping to climb Whitehorse. Unfortunately, the warm weather beat us to it. Instead, we went rock-climbing on the great granite slabs of Three o'Clock Rock (the Kone). A couple of days later, we climbed East Wilmans Spire, a fun day route with a bit of everything, snow, rock, and ...mountain biking.
We then drove North to Washington Pass to climb Silver Star Mountain, a mellow one day outing, then on to the Bellingham area, to climb Ruth Mountain, at least in part for the terrific views of Mt Shuksan and the Price glacier.
Our first overnight trip came around the 4th of July. We didn't get a chance to climb Shuksan during our 2003 visit, and were longing to climb this iconic Cascade peak. We had hoped to climb the North Face, but the approach - already snow free - looked like a bushwhacking nightmare. We settled for a ski trip up the Sulphide Glacier instead (which was amazing).
Next, we did another popular day climb with a mountain bike approach, the West Ridge of North Twin Sister.
By then, it was more than time to switch to rock-climbing... We drove back to Washington Pass where we climbed a few classics we had not gotten around to on our first trip (or did not even know about, since the 2nd volume of Nelson & Potterfield was not out yet). We climbed the classic East face of Lexington Tower and had a good day on the Minuteman.
Next, we did the long haul into the Southern Pickets (one of the most beautiful alpine basins we visited) to climb the East Ridge of Inspiration Peak.
After that taxing trip, we went back to WA pass for more single-day routes. We had good days on the Southwest Buttress of South Early Winter Spire, and the North face of Burgundy Spire which we linked with the West ridge of Paisano Pinnacle.
We left Washington Pass mid-August and drove South to Index for some cragging. Then off to Darrington to try a relatively new route on the Roan Wall.
We wrapped up the season with an overnight trip to Eldorado Basin. Our original intent was to climb Early Morning Spire but we picked the wrong strategy for the approach, gave up on our goal, and climbed the East Ridge of Eldorado as a consolation prize.
By then, it was almost September and time for us to think about heading South to catch a flight to New Zealand where we would spend the austral summer. On our way, we stopped in Winthrop for some mountain biking and sport-climbing. The last route we climbed in the Cascades was Restless Natives, another good clip-up on the Goat Wall.
|The impressive Price Glacier (Mt Shuksan), from high on Ruth Mtn.|
|Traversing under the East flanks of the Wine Spires, en route to Silverstar Mtn, WA Pass area.|
|The Liberty Bell group, WA Pass.|
|The great crack pitch on Minuteman Tower, WA Pass.|
|The Fremont Troll, Seattle, WA.|
|Casual dress code at the Fremont Solstice Festival, Seattle, WA.|
|Ah, US politics... (Solstice Festival)|
|Gear packing routine (near Mt Shuksan).|
|Starting the hike to to the Sulphide glacier, Mt Shuksan.|
|High camp on the Sulphide glacier, Mt Shuksan.|
|Summit Pyramid, Mt Shuksan.|
|Summit Shot, Mt Shuksan (Mt Baker in the background).|
|The iconic Cascades burger stop, Marblemount, WA.|
|The Twin Sisters.|
|A welcome change from the usual approach hike (North Twin Sister).|
|Quintessential Cascades ridge climb (North Twin Sister).|
|Exactly... (still wondering whether this guy was making a point or simply getting rid of old junk?).|
|The Terror Glacier cirque, Southern Pickets.|
|Ridge traverse (Inspiration Peak).|
|Admiring the views, Southern Pickets.|
|Lucie on the Southwest Buttress of SEWS, WA Pass area.|
|Top of Juno Tower (Clean Break), near WA Pass.|
|High camp in Silver Star basin, below the Wine Spires, WA Pass area.|
|Summit block, Chianti Spire, WA Pass area.|
|River crossing on the way to East Wilmans Spire.|
|Snow slopes below East Wilmans Spire.|
|Colorful mushrooms, near Darrington, WA.|
|Bivy rock near the Roan Wall.|
|Some people's pets... Seattle, WA.|
|Views from Eldorado Peak.|
|Summit shot, Eldorado Peak.|
North Cascades Climbs