OverviewLocated near the southern end of the Northern Pickets, Mt. Fury is wild, rugged and remote. In fact, this is one of Washington's most remote climbs and while the technical pitches are few, the overall length of your climbing days (both in time and miles) are so great that even the fittest climbers will get the "expedition" feeling by day three. If you are in excellent shape, experienced and not afraid of being days away from rescue, Fury (with a side trip up Luna) is the trip of a lifetime. Fury is a wonderful mixture of hiking, bushwhacking, scrambling, camping, rock pitches (Class III, like the Freundenhorn in the Berner Oberland) and steep glacier climbing.
Click here for some photos and a basic description of what might be the greatest climb you ever do! And if you are interested in learning more about Washington's mountains, then visit Jim Brisbine's page, Washington's Major Peaks.
Note: Many of the most beautiful photographs of this amazing mountain (posted from my account) were taken by star photographers J. Rehkopf and E. Cook, my climbing partners. They have given me permission to post them on this page. Enjoy!
Getting ThereAfter entering the North Cascades, you need to head towards Ross Lake. The folks at Ross Lake Resort run a ferry. Making a reservation for the trip across the lake to the Big Beaver Landing is vital. It is $50 per boat (round trip) regardless of how many climbers are on the boat (we were a group of 6 and with our huge packs the boat was pretty full). You should set an arranged time to meet the ferry and keep in mind that you will be parking your car up on the highway, about 20 minutes away (over easy trail) from the lake shore below.
From Ross Lake go 11 miles up the Big Beaver River through the old growth. Turn left at a stump with an arrow scratched into it (I am not making that part up), cross the Big Beaver, climb 4 miles through scrub and devil's club to Access Basin (Camp here), ascend the scree couloirs under Luna's face, traverse the sketchy heather slopes to finally reach the second camp at Luna Saddle. This is where you will actually start climbing if you wish to summit Mount Fury. If you are feeling fit you can drop your gear and bag Luna (I hate the verb "to bag", which by the way, can be traced to Edward Whymper's habit of knocking off a piece of rock from the topmost part of the summit and "bagging" it for his collection; page 370 in Scrambles Among the Alps, 2002 National Geographic Adventure Classics edition).
mtnartman also suggests looking into another approach (one I don't know anything about). Take a look... See Easy Ridge/Challenger Glacier route and the additional post. From Challenger Arm drop down and take a line leading you to Luna Lake. See Beckey's guide for route from there to the summit.
Red TapeThere are limits as to how many people can enter the wilderness and group size is limited as well so please check with the rangers in nearby Marblemount. It is also safe to say that during the Summer months, open fires are not allowed. The phone at the Ranger Station is (360) 856-5700 or you can call the visitor information at (360) 856-5700.
There is no need to buy a parking pass because you are not at a trailhead when you leave your car.
The boat, while not technically "red tape" needs to be taken care of in advance as well. So call Ross Lake Resorts at (206) 386-4437.
When To ClimbWhen it is not raining or snowing, i.e. August (if you are lucky). Call the rangers for more details at (360) 856-5700. We had perfect weather and it made quite the difference. Bushwacking through soaking scrub and devil's club is not many people's idea of fun and the sun made it possible to wash in the creek without freezing afterwards. Climbing the rock near the summit was also a lot easier due to the fact that the slabs were not covered in ice. Can it be climbed out of season? Of course. Would I ever want to do it? No. Remember, this is not the Alps. You will have no cell phone reception and nobody to pick you up in a helicopter...
Mountain ConditionsThe conditions on Fury were good in the end of August but the Pickets are known for rough weather and there is no time of year where you can count on sun. Be ready for everything. We had no ice, snow or rain of any kind but the next day we woke up in a fog bank, so hope for the best and plan for the worst. For weather go to the North Cascades website which is www.north.cascades.national-park.com and click on "weather." But you have to trust your own judgement above all else and know when to stop and just enjoy the view. Making the summit is not a right but a lucky priviledge.
Other Important InformationThis description of the North Cascades is one of the best I have read anywhere. Read it closely and take it to heart. For more, visit Mount Challenger.
"This area is the most rugged and remote mountain wilderness in the lower 48 states (somewhat arguable, but not very), deep in the northern section of North Cascades National Park. Challenger and the majority of the Pickets are not visible from any road and no trails offer particularly good views of the area. The climate is quite atrocious, probably the worst in all the Cascades. The valleys surrounding the Pickets are filled with wild and all but impenetrable temperate rainforest choked with brush and blowdown. The terrain is steep and cliffy from valley bottom to peak and the whole area is riddled with wildly disrupted glaciers calving off seracs to the valleys far below. There are no walk up routes in the Pickets. Here one must deal with the peaks on their own terms, over days of real hardship. All of this conspires to make climbing in the Pickets a unique, incredible, but challenging experience at best, and a full on epic at worst. The vibe here is very different than anywhere else in the Cascades. There are fewer climber's trails, more and rougher gound to cover, and less people." - meganerd
- Mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest
Theron Welch's mountaineering site. Detailed trip reports, photos and videos of peaks in the North Cascades, Pickets and beyond.
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