If you've ever read a Hiking or Climbing guide for the Central Cascades of Washington you should be familiar with the visage
of Prusik Peak, it's South Face makes it the dramatic
rock spire in the Enchantment group. Anchoring the West end of Mt Temple ridge, Prusik Peak's S Face rises 700' above the glacier polished slabs surrounding Lakes Viviane and Naiad. The peak has several routes and variations to the summit, including at least one more S Face route, but the one I describe here is the original South Face route first ascended by Fred Beckey and Dan Davis on June 29 1962.
Follow WA State's (US) Hwy 2 from either the East or the West to the W end of the town of Leavenworth. Locate the Icicle River Road (near the E entrance of the Tumwater Canyon) and turn S, following it approx 4 miles to a large parking area and the trailhead.
Forest Service Snow Lakes trail #1553
starts by crossing the Icicle River (on a bridge) and then begins hiking steeply uphill for 2 miles. Here you can look across the creek and view Snow Creek Wall. In another 3 miles you will arrive at Nada Lake and campsites, if hiking in after work this is a good spot to camp. Continue 1/2 mile around the lake and in another 1-1/2 miles the trail crosses between the two Snow Lakes
. Hike around the S side of the upper Snow Lake reaching it's inlet stream and following the trail, up slabs and rocks another 1 mile, leads to the open country of the lower Enchantments.
can be found near Naiad Lake below Prusik Peak, distance from TH approx 9-1/2 miles. Note:
See Joe Hanssen's
section on Red Tape
for access issues (on the main page).
Route DescriptionFrom camp hike
to the base of the S Face and find the deep chimney located approx 200' E of the large S Face Dihedral; this is the start of the climb. Seven Pitches on the Face, one final pitch to reach the summit. Note:
The odd numbered pitches seemed slightly harder than the even numbered ones.
The chimney pitch is rated 5.7 or 5.8 (unprotected) but while leading it, near it's outside edge, we found a number of small cracks (on the face) for protection. At the top of the chimney exit left and then climbing obliquely right and up reach a ledge.
This next section of rock is broken up with slabs, ledges and gullies, continue climbing obliquely up and right, 5.5 or 5.6, approx 2 leads, to a large ledge (Snafflehound Ledge).
Traverse Snafflehound Ledge E, easy, a short lead, to it's end and then up a short steep pitch to a small tree, the base of the crux pitch.
From here we followed the 5.9 variation (Sumner & Heath); climb a shallow dihedral up, you will be forced to the right, until an overhang forces you to make a step-across to the left into a flaring jam crack climbing this over a buldge, 5.9 crux - 20'+, above the buldge the climbing eases off to the end of the lead. One last pitch of climbing, up the now steep gully, you pass a chockstone on the left and reach the narrow notch in the E ridge.
You are now on the North side of the peak about 30' from the summit, we scrambled down to the N and found a narrow ramp leading up and W, climbing this leads to a short jam crack which finishes on the summit.
Descent & Required Gear
From the E end of the summit block we double-rope (150') rappeled N to a large ledge, then another short rappel brought us to easy ground from which we could traverse W to Prusik Pass and from there SE back to camp.
A full rock rack up to 2-1/2", a few larger cams or friends for the crux pitch. Longer slings; the route doesn't follow a straight line and rope drag can be a problem.
Weather link at NOAA
I'm not a guidebook junkie and have mostly used Fred Beckey's informative guidebooks. The current guidebook for this area is CAG I
3rd edition available from The Mountaineers.