North Cascades climbs in September

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adamas_it

 
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North Cascades climbs in September

by adamas_it » Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:34 pm

I will visit the North Cascades area around the middle of September and was planning to do some of the classical climbs there, possibly with a guide since I will travel on my own.

What are the climbs usually still in condition at that time of the year? do you have a guiding service to suggest?
I have some mountaineering experience in the Alps (up to PD+/AD routes), though often with a mountain guide, and basic sport climbing skills (5b-5c French grade).

Thanks.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by ExcitableBoy » Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:28 pm

September is typically great for alpine rock, as many of the big, glaciated climbs have gone out of season. This year that may be especially so. Some alpine climbs will still in shape.

Some ideas:

Mt Shuksan, Fisher Chimneys or North Face. Alpine climb, will involve ice and rock climbing

Washington Pass: Liberty Bell, South Early Winter Spire, North Early Winter Spire, Big Kangaroo, Half Moon, Burgundy Spire, Juno Tower, Chianti Spire. Many good choices for a variety of abilities.

Forbidden Peak, North Ridge, NW Face, West Ridge. Alpine rock with glaciers on the North side routes.

Mt Baker, Coleman-Demming or Easton Glacier. Glacier routes still in shape most years

If you want to go south a little bit to the Enchantments that opens up a bunch of possibilities as well:

Mt Stuart, North Ridge, Colchuck Peak, NE Buttress, Dragontail Peak, Serpentine Arete or Backbone Ridge, Prusik Peak, West Ridge or South Face are all good choices.
Recommended guide services included North Cascades Alpine Guides, Pro Ski and Guiding, American Alpine Institute. All are top notch, but Pro Ski and Guiding and North Cascades Alpine Guides may more likely be able to accommodate a custom itinerary.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by adamas_it » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:48 pm

Thank you for your answer.

What about Mount Baker North ridge and the Torment Forbidden traverse? Is it usually too late in the season with too much ice and open crevasses?

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Josh Lewis

 
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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by Josh Lewis » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:56 pm

Torment Forbidden traverse starts going out of season at the beginning of August due to the bergschrunds. When I did it in late July we only had a narrow walk way to by pass it. Someone I know tried it in early September and lost way too much time dealing with it and had to bail on the traverse. I think he managed to make it up Torment a different way. Also keep in mind that a moat forms on the other side of the rappel onto the traverse. In addition to this the steep snow later on turns into a steep ice traverse which even Steph Abegg didn't want to do (she used another variation that involved more rock climbing to bypass it).

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by ExcitableBoy » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:15 pm

Ditto what Josh said. The problem with Baker North Ridge is the glacier approach becomes very crevassed by then.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by adamas_it » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:41 am

Could you also suggest some peaks that can be safely summited solo, involving mainly hiking and scrambling?
Do most of the peaks require travel on crevassed glacier in mid-September?

Thanks again.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by ExcitableBoy » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:51 pm

adamas_it wrote:Could you also suggest some peaks that can be safely summited solo, involving mainly hiking and scrambling?
Do most of the peaks require travel on crevassed glacier in mid-September?


Many of the bigger peaks are glaciated. Most of the non-glaciated peaks can be hiked or scrambled. Here are some mellow climbs/adventurous hikes:

Mt Ruth/ Ruth Icy Traverse. One of the best reward to effort ratios in the North Cascades. It does involve crevassed glacier travel, however, by September the crevasses are typically open and travel is easy. If your ice axe/crampons skills are solid, this is not too crazy of a climb. I slept on the summit once with a Corgi who had made the climb, sans ice axe or crampons. That said, these are active glaciers and there is always a risk of falling into a crevasse.

Sahale Peak via Sahale Arm. Amazing position at the head of the storied Cascade River Valley. Views into the mile high North Face of Johannesberg, Forbidden Peak, Torment Peak, Mt Bucker, and beyond. Steep snow, rock scrambling. May want a short rope to rappel off the summit block.

Mt Buckner via South Face/Horseshoe Basin. Could be combined with Sahale Peak. Steep snow, easy rock scrambling.

Black Peak via South Ridge. Rock Scramble.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by adamas_it » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:17 pm

Thanks a lot!

Being used to the Alps, the altitude of the North Cascades peaks is quite deceptive and I wasn't expecting all these glaciers.

Since I'll be coming from Europe to WA on my own, I guess that I should look for climbing partners there either to climb on our own or hire a guide (the prices for 1:1 ratio are crazy) for more challenging routes.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by ExcitableBoy » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:33 pm

adamas_it wrote:Thanks a lot!

Being used to the Alps, the altitude of the North Cascades peaks is quite deceptive and I wasn't expecting all these glaciers.

Since I'll be coming from Europe to WA on my own, I guess that I should look for climbing partners there either to climb on our own or hire a guide (the prices for 1:1 ratio are crazy) for more challenging routes.


Yeah, don't let the moderate altitude fool you, the Cascades are one of the most challenging ranges to climb in the contiguous United States, as well as being the only truly alpine range. The approaches alone are quite involved. Try posting for partners on CascadeClimbers.com.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by moonspots » Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:46 am

adamas_it wrote:...do you have a guiding service to suggest? Thanks.


I do, IMG (International Mountain guides, located in Ashford, WA). I've used them 3 times, the guides and office personnel are great, and they do accommodate custom itineraries.

I can only offer a first hand opinion on one of the NCNP peaks, and that's Shuksan. Spectacular views, plenty of easy glacier travel, and a great scramble at the top. And for what it's worth, the guides also suggested Forbidden when I commented on how much I liked the scramble at the top of Mt Shuksan. So, there are two possibilities that I'm aware of.

And even though their office is located in Ashford (near the base of Mt Rainier), the guides will meet you in Sedro-Wooley which is on the way up to Mt Baker, Mt Shuksan, etc.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by adamas_it » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:17 pm

I have also read that the weather in the North Cascades can vary greatly between west and east and is quite unpredictable. In your experience, and for what it's worth,how was the weather in September in the past few years?

Are there other mountain areas around Seattle (5-6h drive) that I could consider as an alternative destination?

Thank you again.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by ExcitableBoy » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:46 pm

Weather in September is typically very stable and dry with warm days and cool nights. One my favorite months. You are correct about the weather, though. Washington State is bisected by the Cascade mountains, the West side receives more precipitation, the east side is in the rain shadow and is drier. East side (drier) areas include Washington Pass, the Enchantments, and the Stuart Range. Every climb I mentioned in my previous posts is within a 3 1/2 hour drive of Seattle.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by adamas_it » Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:28 pm

What about the accommodation in the North Cascades area? Is it almost mandatory to have a tent and camp or are there cheap accommodation options around?

So far I found mainly cabins or expensive resorts, but not many possibilities for a single person.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by ExcitableBoy » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:37 pm

Camping is your cheapest option. No hostels or cheap lodging like the Teton Climber's Ranch that I know of.

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Re: North Cascades climbs in September

by jmeizis » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:46 am

Yeah, the Cascades are pretty rugged. They're very steep and there are many climbs that can involve a great bushwhack. So coming from the Alps you may be somewhat frustrated by the amount of hiking and off trail hiking just to get to some of the climbs.

Despite this there is a lot of good stuff that can be done in September because of the stable weather. West Arete of Eldorado is a good alternative to the Torment-Forbidden traverse if you want to get more rock in and it's about 5a. East Ridge is what I would consider a good example of a PD- route. There is quite a bit of stuff in the Southern pickets that can be fun if you're prepared for some brush. Things like McMillan Spire and Inspiration have some good day routes and some long challenging north facing routes in that 5b/c range. I will be guiding someone from Scotland out there in July and should have some pictures. I've climbed the N. Face of Shuksan in September and it's certainly more difficult but not impossible (actually the hardest part was the bushwhack) but that's a more AD/AD+ route I would think. I imagine the same could be said about the TFT in terms of getting on the route itself although it's easier earlier on in the season. Depending on how much time you have and how rowdy you want to get something like Mount Fury or Mount Challenger are pretty remote and challenging.

Not to self promote but since you asked I guide in Colorado but also in the Cascades, http://www.coclimbing.com. As a little added incentive, every time I go out to the Cascades in September it's dry and awesome. Then when I leave it rains for a week straight. So in addition to my guiding I may be a good weather charm, wouldn't make any guarantees though :-) I'll actually be out there from the 9th-18th for an advanced guiding course and would be psyched to get some climbing in before or after.

Depending on what you're into I could make some more relevant suggestions. Most of my knowledge is of things actually in the North Cascades National Park which is where I have permits. That's where most of the best climbing is though in my opinion. A lot of the volcanoes are pretty sloggy (most of the challenging routes are considered "out" by September). The Pickets and Enchantments are the best in my opinion but outside of the volcanoes the rock is fairly decent wherever you go. Most of the challenge with the glaciers is finding a route thru them and onto rock that late in the season. Still lots of fun stuff out there.

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