North Face Ice Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 48.13750°N / 120.8028°W
Additional Information Route Type: Snow / Ice
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Alpine III-IV
Sign the Climber's Log


The approach can be made from either Ice Lakes or the 7 Fingered Jack (7FJ) - Maude Col.

From the 7FJ-M col traverse steep snow and rock across the Maude face to the North Face (NF) proper. This can be 4th and even some low 5th class, but is commonly done for the approach to the NF route. Once on the NF, traverse below the rock rib towards the center of the face and the Entiat Icefall. Before reaching the Icefall, head towards an obvious debris pile at the base of the North Face Ice Couloir. Early season, the snow will be continuous into the couloir and in late season it may not.

From Ice Lakes, follow the East side of the lake (it helps to scout this route ahead of time for the best path) until you come to the prominent SE rib that leads to a large-ish col between Marmot Pyramid and the SE tower. Ascend the rib (numerous options) class 3 scrambling. From the saddle, follow the glacier down below a series of 1-2 rock ribs (descending 400-600 ft or more) until you can contour on steep snow across the NE face under the Entiat Icefall. Now climb up and to the same debris area at the base of the NF Ice Couloir.

See the Beckey Guide Vol.2 p. 173 and following for more information on the Approach, especially from the 7FJ-M col (Crawling Rat Rib and variants).

Route Description

The route is extremely DIRECT. Looking up from the base of the couloir, one can see the NE summit ridge between the walls of the gulley. The width of the couloir is no more than 20-40 feet for almost 2000 vertical feet. The season makes or breaks the climb. Late season or low snow years, there should be a long pitch of rock to enter the couloir as reported by the FA team. Early season, the snow and ice should be continuous. The FA team reported adequate belays in the rock of the couloir. Our team found the rock extremely friable and manky, and we placed no rock protection. There are very few sections that do not exceed 50 degrees and the average slope is probably close to 60. Conservative estimate is the crux pitches are 60+ degrees and sustained. Water ice may be encountered as well as mixed conditions and thin verglass, especially in the lower one-half to two-thirds of the route.

Overall, though, the route is very straightforward and although narrow, offers a number of variations to avoid some of the more painful problems - depending on conditions. The route is subject to objective hazard from ice and rockfall, and we were pelted with small chunks from high in the couloir. Try to avoid the right and center if at all possible. A large dinner-plate sized rock broke off at 10am on our climb and hurtled 1500 feet down the couloir from 50 feet below us. Make sure the conditions are cold and cemented before climbing. In late June, the sun does hit the top of the couloir at about 8-9 am. With the possibly poor condition of anchor points, be prepared to solo the route if it is thin but solid. Also note that retreat from the couloir after the first 300-500 ft will be very difficult owing to the potential anchoring problems and difficulty in downclimbing. Over and out!

Descend by the standard scrambling routes on the SE Face of Maude back to Ice Lakes - these are "trivial" according to Mr. Beckey (!) - or by the West gully back to the 7FJ-M col.

Refer to Beckey's Guide Volume 2, p. 173 and following for more detailed descent information. However, the route description in this text is more complete than the Beckey beta.

Essential Gear

For each team: ice screws, ice axe + 2nd tool (two ice tools are very nice but it can be difficult doing all the glacier crossing without a standard ice axe), rigid crampons best, very small alpine rack with pro to 1 inch, glacier rope or twin ropes, 1-2 pickets, plus all the standard items like 'biners, crevasse rescue stuff (although the possibility is low), rappel devices, etc. Due to the objective hazard of falling objects, a helmet is an absolute necessity.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-1 of 1

climbit - Jun 28, 2001 12:46 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Due to the hazard of rockfall and icefall, bring your HELMET!

Viewing: 1-1 of 1



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