Cutthroat Peak/West Ridge

A Grade II, Class 5 rock climb with the difficulty varying depending on the exact route taken in the North Cascades near Washington Pass.

getting there

Take I-5 to just north of Mount Vernon, then go east on SR-20 (North Cascades Highway) to just beyond Rainy Pass. Park at the Blue Lake Trailhead parking lot (5,200 ft). It's 1.5 miles west of Washington Pass.

APPROACH

From the North Cascades Highway, about 2 miles west of Washington Pass, drop down and cross creek and ascend meadows into the bowl southwest of the summit. Ascend to the saddle just west of the end of the West Ridge.

ASCENT ROUTE

Traverse east along the South Face of the West Ridge about 100 feet to a shallow blocky gully. Scramble the first section of the gully and then belay up to the ridge crest past two solid pitons (about a 50-foot pitch). Easy scrambling along the ridge leads to the summit block. The last section of the ridge is exposed. A belay may be needed. At the summit block traverse an obvious ledge to the North Ridge. One belayed low 5th class pitch and easy scrambling leads to the summit.

DESCENT ROUTE

ASCA replaced all the hardware on Cutthroat in 2010. From the summit block, look down and west for the first set of chains. Two 30 m rappels down the northwest side, trending toward the West Ridge will put you at the end of the ridge.

Downclimb the ridge, looking left for a cairn above the chains as it becomes easier to travel below the ridge crest. The cairn may be absent. There are chains below a nice ledge, significantly east of the large, east-facing dihedral.

From the first chains, rappel west down a ramp to the next set. The second rappel, also from a bolt station, descends the inside of the large dihedral. The third rappel, from midway down the face, decends to the gulley, or up and over a bump to a ledge that traverses west to the west foot of the West Ridge buttress.

Scree, sand, and meadows from there to the creek crossing, then up the hill and home!

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HR) ELEVATION GAIN (FT)
Seattle to Trailhead 3.5
Trailhead to Summit 6-7 3,200
Summit to Trailhead 4

EQUIPMENT

Standard rock equipment.

NOTES

  • There is reportedly loose rock and high potential for rockfall on this route.
  • This route is not to be confused with the Southwest Gully route that was done as a Basic Climb many years ago and which should not be repeated.
  • Small stoppers and any-size cams useful for running belays.
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: June, July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Basic Rock Climb, Strenuous 1, Technical 2
  • Elevation Gain: 3,200 ft
  • 8,050 ft
Map
  • USGS Washington Pass
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