West Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 48.04150°N / 121.3401°W
Additional Information Route Type: Technical Rock Climb
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.8, steep snow, routefinding
Sign the Climber's Log


Drive the Mountain Loop Highway to north of Barlow Pass, then turn right onto the Bedal Creek Road. Follow this road to it's end (about 3.5 miles).

Hike the Bedal Creek trail from the end of the road. The trail is mostly good, though very brushy in avalanche paths through the forest. The trail can be lost when the valley steepens. In that case, hike up boulders alongside the creek (not difficult, open terrain). A glace at the TopoZone map will show the trail continuing up the valley on a forest spur between two creeks. In that spur you can pick the trail up again, and follow it easily to a scenic level spot in the valley where a pioneer cabin (belonging to Harry Bedal) once stood.

From here, follow your nose southeast, heading towards an east-west spur ridge coming down from the peak. Notice along this walk the massive and even more impressive "northwest" face, which looks very exacting with clean gray rock. To the best of my knowledge it hasn't been climbed.

It seems wisest to gain the West Face by getting onto the east-west spur ridge. This requires some 3rd class scrambling over loose scree gullies. Parties should travel cautiously here - sticking together is best.

Once on the ridge, rope up and try to choose a line.

Route Description

The West Face of Sloan Peak is an enticing objective, partly because it's given fairly lavish treatment in the Beckey Bible, and that within the first 100 pages of that tome. So if your version of bedtime reading is curling up with this book, you'll have many occasions to wonder about it.

Something disturbing about the route picture there is the long leftward, and even downward hook to the line. It seems...malshapen...which is a little scary. If you go up there, what chance do you have of keeping the route. Not to mention the question marks and vague dotted lines.

But it's a beautiful mountain, and if you don't mind a bit of challenging route finding, it's a rewarding climb.

If anyone finds a good photo of the face I would love to try drawing our route on it (hi-res is important). Unfortunately it's not often photographed.

The route overlay on a photo in Cascade Alpine Guide was described by a Mountaineer's publication as less than reliable. With that in mind, we tried to find the easiest path, and this led us mostly straight up from the spur ridge. I believe we jogged to the right 20-30 meters, then back to the left a pitch or two above.

Pitches are often seperated by a low angle heathered band.

The crux of the route (5.8) came after 3 pitches, when a corner/chimney system provided a way through 30 meters of vertical wall. Higher, a distinctive long, left leaning ramp gains a lot of ground. Above that, the choices widen. We sought to go as straight up as possible, finding difficulties maxed out at 5.6 for the upper pitches. Eventually you should reach the Corkscrew trail coming around the mountain from the glacier. Follow it to the summit scramble.

For descent, the most practical way is to follow the Lower South Face Shelf variation of the South Face route (see Cascade Alpine Guide). Basically, descend the Corkscrew Trail down and around a distinctive corner until you are crossing the South Face of the peak. Descend a broad gully for 50-100 feet to find rappel slings around a large block. These slings are probably more important as a marker that you are in the right place than anything else. If you use the slings, the upper part of the rappel is low angle (scrambling down would work), but the lower 20 feet are steeper (low-med 5th class downclimbing would be required).

At this point you've reached the Lower Shelf that parallels the upper Corkscrew trail shelf coming from the glacier. Descend this shelf until reaching snow beneath steep walls. You will be scrambling down polished glacial slabs, it could be dangerous if wet or icy. We found it necessary to make one rappel right near the bottom, though depending on the time of year it might be an easy walk onto snow. It may be wise to bring a piton or two just in case.

Now, traverse 20-30 degree snow west along the base of the steep walls until reaching a ridge of easy walking. We found stone walls of a bivy site here. Turn to the right to descend back into Bedal Basin, over steep heather, grass and boulderfields.


We managed the climb comfortably in a long day from the car. Note that if you don't make it back to a trailed section of Bedal Basin, and you don't have a full moon, you may well be stuck out due to lack of visibility

Essential Gear

Crampons, ice axe for the steep snow on the descent. Rope, and medium rock rack. A #3 Camelot or similar sized piece might be handy. Definitely wear a helmet.

Miscellaneous Info

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



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