ApproachFrom Seattle take I-5 North to Exit 194. Follow Highway 2 East for 2.3 miles, stay in left lane, go to Lake Stevens Highway 204 East, in 2.2 miles take left (north) on Highway 9 to Lake Stevens, in 1.7 miles take right (east) on Highway 92 to Granite Falls, in 8.4 miles turn left (north) to Mountain Loop Highway. Follow for about 30 miles to the Sunrise Mine Road on the right. Road dead ends in about 1 mile where parking is limited to one side of the road. Leave room for others to turn around.
Route DescriptionThe climber must choose from a number of possible starts and variations once at the base of the upper face.
Option 1: This option traverses on ledge systems roughly 1/3 up the face. This variation traverses climbers left to right, above the loose gulley systems that start from the low point of the face on the glacier. The gulleys are loose, sometimes hard to protect, and have been the scene of at least one serious accident.
Option 2: Descend the glacier steeply via snow finger (moat issues, again accidents have occured here) to the base of the North Face. Find the best looking gulley, cross the moat in late season, and climb three pitches of loose, somewhat dangerous terrain. We encountered difficulties to mid fifth class as well as plenty of loose blocks and indifferent protection.
Both options will deposit you on a heather bench. Scramble up the heather bench a few hundred vertical feet to the very clean slab. Pick a line of weakness and follow your nose up the quartite slab. We climbed far to the climber's right of the dihedral formed by the summit pyramid, which looked to offer more secure and better protected climbing. I think most climbers opt for the dihedral.
Our line climed four, 60 meter pitches up beautiful, clean, quartzite slabs which went at 5.7. Most pitches were unprotectable without KB/Bugaboo pitons or tiny nuts and cams. Belays were reasonable and appeared when we needed them, most with small cracks for anchors. From the top of the slab scramble east to the summit pyramid.
Descent. Hike down slabs to the south to rejoin the trail.
Essential GearIce axe, crampons, helmet, 60 meter rope, rock shoes.
Rack: HB Offsets or similar nuts, and small cams, i.e. Aliens or Wild Country Zeros, in addition to regular rack. 8 shoulder length slings.