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South Face

South Face

South Face

Page Type: Route

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Object Title: South Face

Route Type: Trad Climbing

Time Required: Half a day

Rock Difficulty: 5.6 (YDS)

Number of Pitches: 5

Grade: III

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: jacobsmith

Created/Edited: Sep 6, 2012 / Jan 30, 2013

Object ID: 812082

Hits: 1038 

Page Score: 77.48%  - 8 Votes 

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"This 400-ft face is good rock; the first ascent was done in five pitches, by Dick Benedict and Paul Karkiainen on September 14, 1967. The best approach is from the Chickamin glacier. From snow at the base, begin at a low angled rock skirt. A chimney is climbed west of the main base. the route continues on face and broken slabs (generally middle class 5 except for an easier portion near the mid-upper face)" - Cascade Alpine Guide 2: Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass, Fred Beckey

Getting There

The most direct approach is from Itswoot Ridge, on the Ptarmigan Traverse, which can be reached in a long day from the Suiattle River Road (scheduled to re-open in 2013). Although requiring more time, a far more aesthetic route would be to follow the Ptarmigan from Cascade Pass.
From the excellent campsite at 6400 ft on Itswoot Ridge, ascend scree slopes to the west of the crest and then cut down across snow slopes to the base of the peak, although multiple route options may exist, the standard chimney lies just to the west of the prominent buttress.

Route Description

The first two pitches follow a series of chimneys and corners in a more-or-less linear fashion. Most of the rock is solid but beware of some larger loose rocks; one in particular, at the crux of the second pitch, seems ready to fall at the slightest weighting and could present a serious danger to future parties.
Once the upper bowl is reached the grade drops sharply, making the third pitch little more than an easy class four. The last difficult section can likely be climbed by any number of routes, one possibility traverses east approximately 40 feet and climbs what is at first an easy corner. A few awkward moves on this pitch form the crux of the climb, and soon a notch is reached from which a traverse is possible to the final class four ascent to the summit, by which point the standard route has been joined.
The Dana Glacier can be reached in two rappels, although it is probably possible to down-climb this class four section.

Essential Gear

Ice axes and crampons were very helpful in crossing the snow fields to the base of the route, although likely not necessary for earlier season climbs (ours was in September).
Helmets, harnesses, a full-length climbing rope (ours was 70 meters), a set of nuts and cams up to 2 inches and plenty of slings, including larger ones, were very helpful, especially during the descent.

External Links

My trip report, which included an ascent of Dome Peak, can be found here, with additional photos here.


Spire Point - South FaceSouth Face of Spire Point