Go With Flo: Washington Pass
This time my climbing objective took me up to Washington Pass. It was my first time at the pass and I was excited to sample some of the routes up there. The special thing about this place is that there is tons of great alpine climbing with short approaches for Cascade standards. My friend Ryan and I set our eyes on the Direct East Buttress of South Early Winter Spire. A stunning looking line that leads up the slender buttress of this beautiful peak. The fact that Fred Beckey, one of the most successful American first accentionists, included this route in his book ‘100 Favorite Climbs in North America’ only adds to the appeal of this line.
We arrived quite late the evening before our climb so we just set up my rooftop tent and went to bed. Another nice thing about Washington Pass is that the climbing can be quite casual meaning that you can forgo the early alpine start for most objectives in the range.
We crawled out of our sleeping bags at around seven and were on the go a half hour later.
The route starts with easy scrambling and climbing up crack systems to the base of a 5.9 corner. For a route that was hyped so much I was surprised to find a good amount of loose and rotten rock on the lower pitches. However on the first technical pitch the rock quality improved a lot and we climbed 2 beautiful sustained pitches to the base of the first bolt ladder.
Arriving at the first bolt ladder I took over the lead and embarked on beautifully exposed and technical 5.11 slab climbing. The bolts on this pitch are so close together that it is easy to just pull on a piece of gear and through the cruxes however my plan was to free climb the entire route. I ended up pulling on a sling once on the lower slaby crux but was able to free climb the upper 5.11 pitch.
The crux pitches were followed by easier climbing to the summit with spectacular views in all directions. We only spent a couple of minutes on the summit before we started descending the South Arête.
Once in camp we started setting up camp and prepare dinner. I recently picked up an ARB Fridge Freezer as well as a Cook Partner stove from my friends Joe and Dana at Mule Expedition Outfitters. Besides that both of my new gadgets perfectly fit in my car I have to say they work great. Having a fridge in the car makes such a big difference when you want to prepare fresh and healthy dinners. It runs of my battery but will shut itself off before battery voltage gets to low to start the car.
The two-burner cook partner stove is fantastic. It is simple, sturdy and has a slick design.
The coolest feature about the however is the option to separate the two halves of the stove. That means you can take out the grill and burners and you are left with a metal box that is super convenient to clean; I’m usually just spraying it out with a garden hose.
We ended up climbing the West Face of North Early Winter Spire the next day. Even though a much smaller route, the climbing was phenomenal. We ended up getting back to the car early afternoon and drove back to Seattle the same day. All in all we had an amazing two days and I’m eager to come back and check out more climbing in this beautiful area.