ount Buckner, Complete SE Ridge, New Route
On my first climb of Goode Mountain two years ago, the striking SE Ridge of Mount Buckner caught my eye but I was sure that such an obvious line must have been climbed decades before. After climbing Goode again in 2006, I researched the mountain and saw that the complete ridge remained unclimbed. From the east this ridge contrasts sharply with the two halves of the Buckner Glacier, which it divides. Through the climbers’ grapevine, I learned that Gordy Skoog had been eyeing this climb since before I was born. We were soon in email contact and planning our attempt. Gordy and I met for the first time at our rendezvous below the Buckner Glacier on August 5, 2006, Gordy having come in from the west side of the Cascades, and I from the hamlet of Stehekin to the east. We began the ridge at the bottom of the glacier and soloed several hundred feet of 4th and low 5th class to the end of the lower ridge. This natural break gives access to the last snow and bivouac spot along the route, the highpoint of a 1980’s attempt. On the morning of the 6th, we started steeply up the ridge crest, apprehensive of gendarmes we knew to lie ahead. The rock was often loose and licheny, although none of the climbing felt dangerously run-out. Steep 5.8 crack-climbing led to the top of one of the towers, from which we had to rappel off the back side. We found ourselves able to bypass the summit of another tower on the left side via enjoyable blocky climbing. We soon returned to the crest and reached the summit after a few more pitches. The second day’s climbing had taken 12 hours, and we were rewarded with a beautiful scenic sunset during the 3rd class descent into upper Horseshoe Basin.
Grade IV, 5.8
Mount Stuart, NE Face, New Variation
Grade IV, 5.10
Spectre Peak, SW Buttress, “Haunted Wall”, New Route
On August 14, 2006, Mike Layton and Wayne Wallace climbed the 2,100-ft SW Buttress (“Haunted Wall”) of Spectre Peak in the Northern Picket Range. See the feature article, “The Pickets Get a Southern Facelift,” by Mike Layton in this NWMJ issue for details.
Grade IV, 5.9+
Jens Holsten and I explored the exceedingly featured granite of Boola Boola Buttress on August 16, 2006. Unable to locate the 1984 Jim Yoder route due to a vague and confusing description, we elected to just start climbing. Aiming for a large left-facing corner that dominates the right side of the buttress, we deemed this feature too thin and ascended cracks to its right, just west of Michael Layton’s “Thank You Baby Jesus” route. The first pitch may or may not have been virgin territory, but the rest of our path most certainly was. We found very clean rock down low, culminated by a spicy dihedral on the fourth pitch, and then several rope-lengths of loose scrambling. We surmounted the upper headwall in two exciting pitches, and topped out onto the Dragontail Plateau just as a storm approached.
“Black Velvet”, Grade IV 5.10+ R, 1500ft
Liberty Bell, NW Corner, New Route
Above this was a big ledge at the base of a somewhat blank wall. We found a shallow crack with an old pin and some webbing about half way up that I think was used for a retreat. I hoped the pitch would go free, but most of it was aid. Having only a few RPs, I had to back-clean almost every placement, leaving me largely unprotected. Near the top, the crack became too flaring to place gear, so I pulled a few tricky free moves, aided off a tipped-out, half-way-in cam, and climbed a short, crumbling 5.10 slab to a solid flake to reach a belay. The next pitch required an unprotected 5.8 traverse to another right-facing corner and a fun 5.9 crack up the corner. From the top of this pitch a few hundred feet of class 3 brought us to the summit.
Grade III, 5.10a A2+, bring TCUs and small nuts
Anonymity Towers, First Ascents
On August 19, 2006, Tim Halder and I made the first ascent of North and South Anonymity Tower, about five miles NW of Bonanza Peak. During a traverse of the ridge from Needle Peak to Dark Peak and on to Bonanza, we gained the notch between the two Anonymity Towers and from there, the South Tower required two pitches of low 5th class climbing. The North Tower was a simple scramble.
Grade I, 5.5
Bonanza Peak, NW Ridge, New Route
Tim Halder and I climbed Bonanza Peak via a new route, following a traverse from the northwest. On August 19, we left the Agnes Creek trail at Swamp Creek and climbed Needle Peak via the North Ridge. We carried over Needle and made the first ascents, of the North and South Anonymity Towers (reported above). Late in the afternoon, we climbed the Dark Glacier and summited Dark Peak as the sun set. Early on the 20th, after a memorable belay-jacket bivi atop the glacier, we began the climb towards Bonanza Peak. The route follows an obvious high ridge crest that connects Dark Peak to the massive bulk of Bonanza. Climbing along the crest is wild and highly variable in quality. Because you’d have to retrace all your steps to retreat, this would not be a good route to begin during unsettled weather. Ten hours of climbing brought Tim and I to Bonanza’s west summit. The tin-can summit register had two entries: 1952 and 2003. From here we ran the knife-edge ridge to the main summit, passed some exciting “au cheval” moves, and solid 5.8 climbing on the last two pitches. An evening descent down the heavily crevassed Mary Greene Glacier ended our technical difficulties just as darkness fell.
Grade V, 5.8
Wedge Mountain, SE Buttress, New Route
On August 22, 2006, B.J. Buck and I made the first recorded ascent of the SE buttress on Wedge Mountain near Leavenworth. Countless variations could be made, but we made every possible effort to climb directly up the center of the buttress. We encountered climbing up to 5.9 though many of the difficulties could be avoided. The rock was often covered in lichen, but short pitches of quality climbing could occasionally be found.
Grade II, 5.9
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