Livin’ Large on Labor Day
I reunited with long time friends and climbers Kori Barnum and Dan Medin from Portland, OR for a little rock and alpine climbing rendevous in the North Cascades. Weather has been a little touch and go here in Washington as of late, but we were able to piece together an awesome 5 days of climbing.
Classic Outer Space. Marc Ripperger photo
Because of the shaky forecast, we tried to start our trip off on the dry side of Leavenworth. The day was looking promising until around 10 am when ominous dark clouds moved over Mt. Stuart and into Icicle Creek. We were 2 pitches up the route Yard Art rated 5.9. We quickly scrabbled up the 3rd pitch with the clouds hovering above and rigged the anchor for our descent back down. The raincoats helped a little but we walked back to the car a soggy mess. To liven our spirits we droved down to a small café outside of town and enjoyed some hot drinks and bowl of soup. We rang out or wet clothes and saw our second chance to get back out on the rocks. The next step in Kori and Dan’s climbing was to begin traditional climbing. We practiced gear placement at a small crag and became more acquainted with the fundamentals of traditional climbing in order to start them out climbing some easy objectives on their own.
Yard Art before the rain. Marc Ripperger photo
With a better weather forecast we decided to bite of the classic route Outer Space up on Snow Creek Wall. This might be the best 5.9 rock climb in Washington and rightfully so. The climbing day was full of various types of climbing from low scrabbly 5th class at the bottom to exciting traversing pitches and topped off with a brilliant 300 foot hand crack to the top of the 900 foot wall. We ended our climb with a dinner at Skagit River Brewery and enjoyed some juicy burgers and fries to quote us up for our next 3 days on Mt. Shuksan.
Classic. Marc Ripperger photo
Upper Curtis Glacier. Marc Ripperger photo
Under blue skies we hiked into the low camp at the base of the Fisher Chimneys. We spent the afternoon chilling out and taking in the beautiful views of the lower and upper Curtis Glacier. We went to bed with the sound of the rushing water off the glacier. Summit day was another great day in the mountains we navigated through some cravasses on the Upper Curtis Glacier and moved up the ridge like rock stars passing other groups as though they were standing still! We tagged the summit danced a little jig at the top and let out a little whoop whoop in celebration.
Hell’s Highway. Marc Ripperger photo
We reversed our route back down to low camp. At camp we even had enough energy to dance around to play a song we all had stuck in our heads the entire way up the climb. I thought Dan and I had some pretty sweet dance moves but Kori just seemed to laugh at us the whole time. The sunset was spectacular that evening and capped off a great day in the mountains.
~ MM Guide Marc Ripperger
Summit of Shuksan! Marc Ripperger photo