Summer Alpine Rock

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

My thoughts are already drifting toward anticipation of early winter powder. In the mean time, I’ve been taking advantage of the great alpine climbing weather we’ve been having in Washington (read: blistering heat in the lowlands).

Washington Pass and the Cascades from high on Burgundy Spire.

Three weeks ago, Zach and I climbed the linkup of Burgundy Spire and Paisano Pinnacle, near Washington Pass. A 5.8 (or 5.9 depending on who you read), 15 pitch route, it climbs Paisano Pinnacle, and then after a short downclimb, continues up to the top of Burgundy. When you end you are perched on a tiny summit looking over eastern Washington and the North Cascades–pretty cool! We had tried the route a few years ago together, but only managed to climb Paisano before running out of time. We’d been itching for a rematch for a while, and decided to give it a go. We climbed it in one long day and had a blast. Here are a few pictures.

Zach hanging out on the narrow top of Burgundy Spire.

We ended the climb a little late, but got to enjoy great alpenglow on the rappels.

The weekend before last I headed over to Leavenworth. Day one we did some mellow cragging in Icicle Creek Canyon, and then drove into town for brats at the Munchenhaus. The next day we decided to go for Backbone Ridge, on Dragontail Peak. We caught a few hours of sleep at the trailhead, and started the hike at 4am. We made it to beautiful Colchuck lake a little after dawn, and started the climb. Coop had done the ridge once before, but spent almost the entire climb off route. We resolved to find the correct way, and were psyched to find ourselves at the base of the first pitch, a tricky 5.9 offwidth. The first pitch was a little exhausting, but the rest of the climb was quite enjoyable. We enjoyed beautiful weather for most of the climb. On the last pitch (a heinous, choss and mud filled gully), a quick, intense thunderstorm blew in. With buzzing ice axes, we raced to the top and down the other side, only stopping when we felt safe from the incessant lightning.

Coop climbing on the "Fin" on Backbone Ridge

The thunder and lightning only lasted while we were on the exposed, high summit. Once we got down to safe ground, the sun came out for an awesome sunset over Colchuck Lake.

I’m in Colorado now, enjoying sun, high alpine, and clockwork afternoon thundershowers (in a thankfully less exciting way).

Comments

One Response to “Summer Alpine Rock”

  1. Mark August 15th, 2013 8:10 am

    I did the NF of Burgundy about ten years ago and went back two weeks later and did the Paisano variation. Really awesome route. Didn’t do Backbone but did climb Serpentine. It’s cool to see photos of those spots. I do miss the NW. Have fun.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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