Chair Peak/North Face (winter)

Chair Peak via the North Face is a Grade II ice climb.

Getting there

Drive I-90 East from Seattle to Exit 52, Snoqualmie Pass. Turn left and drive to the upper Alpental parking lot, 3,100 ft.

APPROACH

A cat track proceeds up the valley from the end of the parking lot, just left of the stream. Proceed up the valley towards Chair Peak, first encountering Source Lake. If snow conditions are stable, ascend up the open slopes at the valley head and make a rising traverse into the cirque under the east face of Chair, ending at the rock called the Thumb Tack.

From here, the north face is to the right of the Northeast Buttress, which is the right hand skyline of Chair Peak. Proceed north from this point, up a gully to the Northeast Ridge (avoiding the direct northeast approach to the ridge). This gully is avalanche prone (two fatalities in 1996). Follow the ridge to the buttress, and inspect the route, which begins about half way across the north face up a prominent open-book.

ASCENT ROUTE

The first pitch is usually a mixture of steep snow and ice, up to 70°, with a belay on a shoulder where the angle eases a little. Second pitch can be combined with the third in simul-climbed steep snow, ending at a belay bush, off to the right. Fourth pitch has a little more steep ice, and a belay bush. Last pitch is up to the summit ridge, where a cornice may be encountered. From the summit ridge the true summit is up a short 20 ft step.

DESCENT ROUTE

From the summit, traverse over the false summit, and head east down the normal descent gully, to a notch in the southeast ridge, where rappel gullies descend to the east face basin. Downclimb or rappel according to conditions. This brings one down to the cirque under the east face and a return to the Thumb Tack.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HR) ELEVATION GAIN (FT)
Seattle to Trailhead 1
Trailhead to Summit 6 3,000
Summit to Trailhead 3

EQUIPMENT

Two tools, pickets, screws, crampons, include pitons and rock pro.

NOTES

Snow conditions are sine qua non for this climb. It should only be attempted in below freezing conditions, ideally after a good thaw, yielding nicely consolidated ice and snow. Expect heavy traffic on weekends due to inclusion in Selected Climbs. Early season, this climb is often steep unconsolidated snow, with the amount of ice on the route increasing toward March. The season is considered from December to March.

FOr leaders

Permit information

As of 2017, the Snoqualmie Ranger District considers Mountaineers trips and courses to be "nominal use". Leaders should print and copy this designation letter to show rangers they may see on trail or carry a digital copy on their phone.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft
  • 6,238 ft
Map
  • Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207
  • USGS Snoqualmie Pass
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