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Trip Title: rugged Fortress
Author lee coutermarsh
Date July 21, 2002
GuideBook Beckey green
Weather Clear, 70's/40's
Owned By climbing
Mountain Elevation Summitted
Hmmm, "rugged Fortress" are the first two words in the green Beckey guide and enough to spark my interest. I sent out an e-mail to fellow WACers to join me, and Kevin Runolfson, a newer member was interested as well. So plans were made for a weekend trip to the summit. We made it to the trailhead in good time. Kevin thought it would be wise to use the port-a-potty before we headed on up. He came back stating what a remarkable port-a-potty it was. Hmmm I thought Maybe he likes bathrooms and thought no more of it. But after fussing about at the trailhead etc... figured maybe I better hit it as well. I came out grinning as now I knew what he was talking about. It was absolutely the cleanest honey bucket I have ever seen, not so much as a speck of dust,cobweb,or hold your breath take a dump and get out atmosphere, hell the spider's were to scared to go in as they would get stuck to the fresh paint. OK, back to the trail and off we go. Start off heading past the private property of an old mining town called trinity. The trail is very well worn and beaten out by stock of various forms I would imagine as we witnessed horse camps, and water troughs on the start of the trail. The trail goes on and on for 9 miles and seemingly gaining next to none elevation gain. However, as you get into the upper valley in about 3 miles or so you start being rewarded of incredible views straight up to the lofty summit of Buck Mt, and then a bit further of Mt. Berge. Kevin, Myself and Rufus (kevins sporty shar pei dog) took a break midway and looking straight up and thinking hmmm Fortress is 300 ft higher than that,Cool. Then the black flies took over and had us on our way rather quickly. Continue on to the head of the valley and about 5,600 feet which is where you will cross a bog bridge (maybe buried in early season), from there go about 30-50 feet and bear right on an obvious trail but unmarked. This trail will take you up to an obvious snow field which will lead up to pass no pass and 6,400 feet and a good spot for the first night. Our travel time from car to here was 5 hours, plenty of time to set up camp and explore. Kevin, found an intersting and very ambitious "scamper" up to the close by summit and 7,400 foot helmet butte. That is on the west side of our camp, I chose to track down our route to Fortress the next day on the east side. I found out quickly though it would be all bushwacking from here. Had a great meal and decided to hit the bag's by 8 and be up and out by 6 a.m. which we were.
Next day dawned clear and cool and promised to be a great summer day. From pass no pass, and orienteering with the map (which I forgot) but had kevin's print out. You want to look east and see the rocky summit of a minor peak and bear up and to the south side of that to obvious higher benches. Once you attain these higher benches you finally get the first glimpse of the elusive Fortress. From here you just choose your line and go with it as it comes. Either way you go you will get a cool mixture of soft snow, hard snow, steep snow fingers, scree, talus, 2nd to maybe 3rd class climbing. Word of note here, very loose rock and wise to spread out because of rock fall. I think Rufus heard the rocks coming down and decided 7,800 feet was high enough for him. We continued on and coming upon the ridge broke into the nice warm a.m. sunshine and views in ever direction. Bonanza, maude, and the towering views of Glacier peak to the west and seemingly very close. This is a lonely summit but we did peer over the other side and saw a team of 2 coming up the SW route. The summit is 8,760 and as hard as we searched found no summit register. So if anyone has the ambition to head up here a summit register would be welcome. We had a nice meal and basked in our endeavor and decided to hit the lonnnngggg runout (10 miles) back to the truck. Upon reaching the parking lot rufus just flopped on the bridge over the creek with not an ounce of energy left to walk down to the water. With some coaxing by kevin he made it and just layed in that ice water. Kevin put his feet in and I thought I saw steam rising. I thought about it but then thought about the pain I would endure trying to get my feet back into the boots to walk to the truck. My heels were hamburger, and the end result are my 15 year old leather boots are now in the trash. So this is an awesome climb but bring foot stuff and an ice axe and you should be all set.
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