Echo Peak #1 is the largest of the nine Echo Peaks. Its broad West face is consolidated for the most part, but typical of seldom climbed backcountry routes, there's still a lot of untested holds; most are solid but some knobs still pop and break. A big loose boulder at the first belay will tumble if pushed. The route is an obvious dog-leg to the right via a broad ramp at the top of a prominate and slightly wavy dike in the middle of the face. The route has three belays and each pitch is long. A 60 meter is recommended, a 50 is possible if you start the first pitch (longest of the three) higher up the toe of the slab and a 70 meter is unnecessary. The route itself only takes a couple hours to complete but the 3 mile approach makes it most of a day.
From the Cathedral Lakes trailhead, hike the Budd Creek climbers trail to the base of Cathedral Peak where you can catch a clear view of Echo Peak #1, and the route (large dark ramp in the middle of the face). Navigate south up the easy granite benches as if heading toward Matthes Crest. Hike dirctly to the base, middle of the face of Echo 1 and look for the prominate dike that takes you 185 feet to the first belay.
The Ramp Route, on the articulate west face of Echo Peak #1, ascends approximately 400 feet in three pitches of star quality 5.6 climbing. First ascent by Tom Hofstedt and Geoff Fowke in September 2005, it shares the first pitch with West Face Direct 5.8, (FA Ron Cagle and Jerry Anderson, July 1972) then deviates 7-8 meters above the first belay at the bottom of a broad right leaning ramp. The most obvious and widest of several, this ramp runs up and arrow straight for about 200 feet to a clean ledge just south of the summit.
To begin, locate the wide, thick dike right of center on the west face and rope up where the slab meets talus. This first pitch is the longest and a 60-meter rope is recommended but a 50 would just stretch to the belay if you were to inch up the slab enough. Big gear is needed (6”- 9”) for the wide crack at the end of the pitch or use two pins placed by Hofstedt in 2005. The big flat boulder perched at the front of the belay ledge is loose and care is needed not to send it trundling. It’ll rock easily if you sit, stand or pull on it. Pitch two starts out with face moves directly above for 7-8 meters where the leader will arrive at the bottom of the ramp. Turn right and ascend the ramp. Run up a full rope length to a stance belay where the angle decreases slightly. Cracks in the wall left of the dihedral and under foot protect easily with medium gear. Pitch three amps things up a bit by opening bomb bay doors to some big air below if you move onto or right of the arête on good knobs; otherwise keep it to 5.6 in the dihedral. Another roomy ledge at the end of the ramp leaves you just a couple of easy mantle moves from the summit.
Be aware of untested holds on this relatively unclimbed line. Knobs still pop unexpectedly and some flakes resound with a hollow thump. Both leader and belayer are well advised to wear a helmet. Located directly between Cathedral Peak and Matthes Crest, this moderate multi- pitch route is an enjoyable 5th class alternative to the Echo #1’s summit.
There are two Lost Arrows placed on FA by Tom Hofstedt in 2005 at the first belay ledge. They were still bomber in June 2007. To the left of the pins is a wide crack, in case you find them untrustworthy. Bring big gear for it (6"-9"). A number 3 and 4 big bro works well here. Medium gear (1"-4")for the second belay and for protecting on the ramp; small gear at the third belay. The entire route protects easily with a variety of pieces: nuts, tricams, tcu's, and all sizes of SLCD's. Bring slings to girth hitch the occasional horn.
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