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Thunder Slam: Goode NE Buttress, Storm King, Booker, Logan
Trip Report

Thunder Slam: Goode NE Buttress, Storm King, Booker, Logan

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Thunder Slam: Goode NE Buttress, Storm King, Booker, Logan

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Object Title: Thunder Slam: Goode NE Buttress, Storm King, Booker, Logan

Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 1, 2012

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Summer


Page By: StephAbegg

Created/Edited: Aug 4, 2012 / Sep 14, 2013

Object ID: 804157

Hits: 3538 

Page Score: 86.37%  - 22 Votes 

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North Cascades peak-bagging at its best.


Back in February, Brian and I started to plan a multi-day climbing adventure in the North Cascades for the summer ahead. Two of our favored options were the Chilliwack Group area (Redoubt, Spickard, Mox, etc.) and the Thunder-Bridge-Park Creek area (Goode, Storm King, Logan, etc.). We couldn't decide. So we came up with a good solution: do both!

The first week of July had been a fun and successful five-summit romp through the Chilliwack area, which was still rather snowy in the early season conditions. Now with a month of snowmelt (particularly off the NE Buttress of Goode, which we preferred to be dry) and the a solid high pressure system having settled over the Cascades, it was time to enact our Thunder Slam. 

For six days we traversed through some of the highest and most rugged and beautiful terrain in the North Cascades, carrying our full packs over two of the highest summits in the Park and scrambling up two others. We included in our itinerary one of the most spectacular camp spots in the North Cascades: on the summit of Mt. Goode, the highest point in NCNP. We occasionally hit a trail, but only briefly before we scampered back into the wilder cross-country terrain. Besides for the first few miles on either end of the trip, we did not encounter a single human being the entire time.

The following page gives maps, route overlays, photos, commentary, and the adventures of a particular tiny stuffed mountain goat. Enjoy!


Map of our daily GPS tracks.
  • Day 1: We started at the Bridge Creek trailhead (4400 ft) on HWY 20 and followed the PCT ~10 miles to the North Fork Bridge Creek trail. Followed the North Fork trail ~5 miles to ~1.5 miles past Grizzly Creek and ascended slabs/brush/meadows to high camp (~5200 ft) below the base of the NE Buttress of Mt. Goode.  18 miles, 3800 ft elev. gain, 3000 ft elev. loss, 11:15
  • Day 2: With full packs, we climbed the NE Buttress of Mt. Goode (9220 ft). Camped on summit. 2 miles, 4200 ft elev. gain, 200 ft elev. loss, 11:55
  • Day 3: Descended the SW Couloir of Goode. Traversed westward, dropped packs, and climbed the standard SW basin route up Storm King (8520 ft). Then descended route, picked up packs, and descended climbers' path to the Park Creek trail. Hiked along the trail~3 miles and camped at knoll (6000 ft) just SW of Park Creek Pass. 9.3 miles, 4300 ft elev. gain, 7490 ft elev. loss, 12:00
  • Day 4: With day packs, climbed the NW route (via Booker-Buckner Col) on Mt. Booker (8280 ft). Returned to camp and packed up, then followed the Thunder Creek Trail north of Park Creek Pass (6040+ ft), leaving the trail after 0.4 miles and traversing ~2 miles to Mt. Logan. Camped at 8000' on the Fremont Glacier. 10.9 miles, 7730 ft elev. gain, 5760 ft elev. loss, 12:40
  • Day 5: With full packs, ascended Mt. Logan (9087 ft) via the Fremont Glacier. Due to white-out conditions, we also summited several subsummits on the way. Descended Banded Glacier and worked our way north to the Fisher Creek Trail (3600 ft). Hiked along the trail for ~5 miles to Fisher Camp (5200 ft). 10.6 miles, 3930 ft elev. gain, 6720 ft elev. loss, 12:20
  • Day 6: Followed the Fisher Creek trail 2.1 miles to Easy Pass (6520+ ft), then hiked 3.6 more miles out to HWY 20 (3700 ft). Hitchhiked to car 8 miles away at Bridge Creek Trailhead. 5.6 miles, 1300 ft elev. gain, 2800 ft elev. loss, 2:55

DAY 1: Hike in to camp below Goode.

Hmmm...how to fit it all in? And then carry it over a 9200+ ft summit? At the Bridge Creek (PCT) trailhead on HWY 20 about to start our 6-day adventure.
We hiked 10 miles on the PCT to the North Fork Bridge Creek turnoff. 
Grizzly Creek is just over 3 miles along the North Fork Bridge Creek Trail. We waded the creek. Per Beckey's approach to the NE Buttress (see below), we hiked about 1.5 miles past Grizzly Creek until we turned off to head up to the bivy below the NE Buttress of Goode.
The North Fork Bridge Creek Trail gets a bit brushy after Grizzly Creek, but it was still relatively easy to follow. Mt. Goode towers above.
Tiger Lily and Mt. Goode behind.
Crossing the North Fork Bridge Creek. It was flowing pretty good, but we were able to wade it. Mt. Logan is at head of valley.
We decided to try Beckey's route to the NE Buttress, which involves following the trail about 1.5 miles past Grizzly Creek to 3800 ft. The advantage is that there is "easy slab" and "virtually no brush." The disadvantage is that it is a lot less direct than the standard approach of approaching from directly below the buttress.Photo by Brian Walkenhauer.
"Virtually no brush"...easier said than done. 
As shown in this photo, Beckey's route involves traversing in from the right so that the NE Buttress of Goode is on the skyline. As we approached this way, it looked very possible to take snowfields directly to the right side of the buttress. I was skeptical and figured there was some impassable crack that we couldn't see from below, so we defaulted to the standard approach to the left side of the buttress. However, a view from the summit of Storm King a couple of days later seemed to suggest that a right-side approach to the buttress would have worked after all and we could have saved some time. Sorry Brian for not trusting your instinct!
The view of the NE Buttress of Goode from a standard camp spot on a 5200' knoll. We discovered the next day that there is an equally flat campsite at around 5400' about 20 minutes further along the route.
Spelling out Goode with my Power Bars. My ration was one letter a day.
Glowing tent and moonlit hills behind. Exposure: 3 min, f/6.3, ISO 800.

DAY 2: Climb NE Buttress of Mt. Goode, bivy on summit.

Route overlay of the Northeast Buttress of Goode, on a John Scurlock aerial photo from June 2012.
Route overlay of the Northeast Buttress of Goode, on a photo taken from the North Fork Bridge Creek valley the day before our climb.(CORRECTION: This photo incorrectly labels the East Ridge of Goode as Memaloose Ridge. Memaloose Ridge is actually further to the SSE, as it is correctly placed on USGS Topo maps. Google Earth (which is the resource I used when labeling this photo), however, gets it wrong.)
This photo was taken the next day from the summit of Storm King, looking down on the lower NE Buttress. At least at the time this photo was taken, it sure looks like the approach to the right side of the buttress poses a lot less crack and 'schrund issues than the more standard left-side approach. Update: Shortly after I posted this TR, I had 2 separate parties confirm that they had accessed the buttress from the right (one party had climbed the route a week before us, and the other party had climbed it a decade before).
Brian approaching the morning-sun-lit NE Buttress of Goode from the standard left side approach.
The notorious bergschrund was indeed gaping. There was no way we could get across this.
Another view of the 'schrund. There were giant man-eating gaps between the snow and the rock.
Fortunately, we found a snow bridge to the left that allowed us to get above the gaping 'schrund and onto a snow/ice ramp that led right onto the rock. Photo by Brian Walkenhauer.
Looking up the NE Buttress from where we accessed it from the glacier. The first ~2 pitches are low 5th; the rock is not that great. The goal is to get on the crest. Photo by Brian Walkenhauer.
Brian on the crest of the NE Buttress. From here, there is a long section of easy stepping 3rd/4th class with much pro available and positive holds.
Simulclimbing the long stretch of Class 3/4 terrain on the lower half of the NE Buttress. We climbed halfway up the buttress in two long simulclimb pitches. Photo by Brian Walkenhauer.
Brian was quite efficient with the gear. After simulclimbing for perhaps a quarter of the buttress we finally had to stop when he had only three nuts left.
About halfway up, things steepen into 5th class terrain. Again, pro is good and rock is good. We stayed within 20 feet of the arête the entire way up.
Exposure and views are great. Photo by Brian Walkenhauer.
This was the crux section for us, where we traversed left about 20 feet on ledges to get to class 4 terrain that led back up to the buttress crest. I think of all places on the buttress, this is where people are most likely to get off route by straying too far from the buttress.
An old piton. Always fun to find.
About 3/4 of the way up, we arrived at a large ledge. It was early afternoon so we took a nice break. People have bivied here. From here, you can take either the left or the right arête (they meet perhaps 150 feet above). The right looked easier (4th to low 5th) so that is what we took.
I discovered that power bars coated in peanut butter (or in this case sunflower butter) tastes even better than Reese's.
About level with Black Tooth Notch, we encountered a snow patch. Since we planned on camping on the summit, we filled up with water here by collecting drips and speeding up the melting process with a bit of stove-power. (This spot was about 400' below the summit and near some rap slings, which we would descend to the next day to access the SW Couloir descent.)
Brian nearing the summit of Goode. The final 400' involves a rightward angling pitch and more easy 5th to the summit.
Goode is one of the rare summits that actually is just flat and large enough to camp on (we could even set up my small 2-man tent!). We felt we couldn't pass up this opportunity to camp on the highest point in North Cascades National Park. Wow, what a view!
From wikipedia: "A glory is an optical phenomenon that resembles an iconic saint's halo about the shadow of the observer's head. The effect is produced by light backscattered towards its source by a cloud of uniformly sized water droplets.    The angular size is much smaller than a rainbow, about 5° to 20°, depending on the size of the droplets. The glory can only be seen when the observer is directly between the sun and cloud of refracting water droplets.    Glories are often seen in association with a Brocken spectre, the apparently enormously magnified shadow of an observer, cast (when the Sun is low) on clouds below the mountain the viewer is standing on."
Mountain shadow from our camp on the summit of Goode. Mountain shadows are immensely long tunnels of unlit air, and always appear triangular due to perspective effects.
Bet not too many SLRs have ascended Goode!
Just due to pure luck on the timing of our trip, the night we spent on Goode was pretty much a full moon. Exposure: 30 sec, f/5.0, ISO 400

DAY 3: Descend Goode, climb Storm King, camp near Park Creek Pass.

Another beautiful morning. Good weather makes for much more enjoyable trips in the Cascades.
Starbucks on the highest point in NCNP.
Descent: Downclimb the route about 100 ft to some slings. Downclimb or make two slightly leftward rappels (rappeler's left, slings in situ, this photo shows the first of the two rappels) until nearly level with Black Tooth Notch. Our second rappel ended on a slab, just above another slung horn. Pulling the rope here features some drag. Downclimb (3rd/4th) a few feet to the base of the slung horn, and follow the sidewalk ledge around to Black Tooth Notch. Just below the notch is the SW couloir, which is the standard descent route. We made two rappels at the top of the couloir. Rap slings in place ~30 feet below the notch. Our beta said that the second rappel anchor was to rappeler's left, but we did not find one to our left but we discovered some slings straight down (at the end of our 60m rope). After the two rappels, it was just Class 3 downclimbing to the base of the couloir. Near the end of the couloir where there are cliffs, head left and follow ledges out.
The second rappel down to Black Tooth Notch.
On the ledge to Black Tooth Notch.
Looking down the SW couloir, another one of those chossy 3rd class gullies that are all too familiar in the North Cascades. (3rd class except for two initial rappels.) 
Our shadows on the walls by the SW couloir.
A route overlay showing our travels from the SW couloir over to Storm King and our subsequent descent to the Park Creek Trail in the valley below. This was all easy travel.
The traverse to the standard SW Basin route on Storm King. Besides some unexpected bullet-proof snow in a few areas, it was an easy traverse. The summit area is just visible in the upper right of this photo.
A route overlay showing the general direction of the standard SW basin route up Storm King.
Looking up towards the summit area of Storm King.The Cascade Alpine Guide told us to ascend to the gully to the left of the middle peak. Summitpost beta described a route that went up the gully on the right. We decided to follow summitpost. It was pretty easy. Abbreviated description below:    To the right of the central, slabby tower is a deep gully with a solitary horn at its top notch. This is the wrong gully. Climb up the gully right of the gully with the small horn (Class 2/3). At the notch, look left. There is a ledge that traverses the backside of the southern tower. There is a slight overhang that requires a squeeze under (Class 3).  Traverse all the way across the backside of the summit (middle) tower to a small spur. Turn left and scramble (Class 3) up the spur to the small notch on the north side of the summit. From this final notch you can choose to climb a short, solid Class 4 face of 15 feet to easier ground. Alternatively, you can wrap around the left side and scramble up Class 3 blocks.