Standard Route

Page Type
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Technical Scramble
Time Required:
A long day
Class 3/4

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Standard Route
Created On: Aug 12, 2005
Last Edited On: Aug 12, 2005


This is the standard route to the summit and perhaps the easiest all around. The major difficulties (the crux) are higher up toward the summit. There are also routefinding difficulties owing to the many gullies and ribs--all of which look like viable options when viewed obliquely from a distance. Be prepared to back-track in the event of a wrong turn. If you find yourself climbing any more than short sections of Class 4 then you are off-route. There is a measure of looseness, however--the standard for the Cascades.

With a bicycle the entire climb from the Methow River Trailhead can be done in one day. It took us ~12 hours not including the extra peakbagging we did while at Azurite Pass. A bicycle expeditiously gets you up the Methow River Trail to the junction for the trail up to Azurite Pass (it took us 100 minutes to bike 10 miles for an average of 10 miles an hour). If you have a bike this is by far the most preferable and funnest way. Some of the biking on the return was super-fun with high speeds over smooth dirt track.

See the Main Page for approaches to Azurite Pass.

The Azurite Appetizer

From Azurite Pass (c. 6,700 ft) leave the dwindling bootpath and ascend rightward up the lower ridge. The crest of the ridge is choked with evergreens but you can hike over open ground to the left or right side. If going along the right side, continue up toward the rockwall and go through one thin line of trees to a dirty gully heading left up to the crest beside the wall (c. 6,900 ft). Curl around the backside of the wall then up to the top of the wall (Class 2/3). If the summit is visible you should see a prominent gully coming down the south or southwest side of the summit tower. This gully may be snowfilled--especially in early season. Your objective is this gully. It is probably the crux of the climb.

Continue up along gentler terrain (some lingering snowfields probable in July) until about 7,400 ft at which point a scramble up through a convenient gully is necessary to surmount a rock step. The easy terrain continues a little further on the west slope (sand, scree, and talus) past minor gendarmes on the crest. Scramble up another step then to a notch on a west-trending rib. This notch provides an overlook to the meat of the mountain and the final traverse to its base where the correct gully awaits your footfalls. Finding that correct gully can be a problem. The correct gully cannot really be seen from the notch. It is a narrow gully at its base.

The Meat of the Mountain

Contour across the slope (more talus and less sand now) possibly making a slight descent. Cross maybe 300 yards to where the terrain forces an ascent over a minor bulge/rib (possible cairns here) into a messy area of gullies and beyond which is a major rib. DO NOT GO AS FAR AS THE MAJOR RIB. In the vicinity of the minor ribs look for a narrow gully (possible steep snow at base) that leads up to the south side of the summit tower.

Ascend the gully (ice axe in early season and crampons if icy). It widens higher up. As you near the South Ridge crest look left for the aforementioned obvious gully. This is your route. The base of the gully contains a short step or two (Class 3+). The center of the gully may have a snowfinger in it. You can kick steps up the snow finger or move to rock on the left. The rock varies from Class 3 to Class 4 and is sustained Class 3+ near the top where the rockwall lays back to become a climbable face for a 100 feet or so. BE CAREFUL HERE NOT TO KNOCK ROCKS DOWN ON YOUR PARTNERS. The snowfinger/gully bottom finishes at a notch. The face finish ends at a flat arĂȘte with small horn between you and the notch. The horn can be bypassed on its right.

From the notch climb either a gully to the left (slight descent around a corner) or a gully to the right above a short rock step (Class 3+ for one or two moves to mount). If you will be climbing with others, it is suggested one person take one gully and the another person take the other. The rock in the gullies is very loose. Either gully tops out on the crest a few dozen yards from the top. These last yards are easy.

The Descent Dessert

I suppose in early season there could be too much snow in the final gully making for some dicey step-kicking on descent. In this case a rappel could be made instead but a 30m won't get you all the way down by a long shot. It's hard to say but in late season the gully may be bare and sketchy. Other than these considerations, the descent route is the up route.

Essential Gear

Bicycle for the Methow River Trail, which is pretty darn flat.
Ice Axe
Lightweight crampons
Bug repellent

Standard Route

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