Introduction to Alpine Rock Climbing / Matterhorn Prep Itinerary
Upon sign up, we will send you our richly detailed, pre-trip information package.
We’ll do a morning gear check at 6:30am and thoroughly evaluate all the equipment we’ll be using throughout the program and address last minute questions and gear concerns. From the office, we will drive to Mt. Erie to learn about the basics of rock climbing in a spectacular setting. The climbing areas on Mt. Erie overlook the Puget Sound, with panoramic views of the San Juan Islands, the Olympics, and several of the Cascade volcanoes. Students will learn and review skills on belaying, rappelling, lowering, descending, footwork, rope/knots and climbing techniques. Plan to spend several hours working on technical skills that will help translate to efficient climbing over the following days. Finally, in the evening we will drive along the scenic North Cascades Highway to the east side of the mountains and make our camp at a campground near our climbing objectives.
The plan is to climb the South Arête of South Early Winter Spire. This is a full day of climbing at Washington Pass on an excellent route that ascends to the summit of one tallest spires in the area. The technical cruxes on this route are short allowing climbers to focus on applying the technical skills learned on the previous day. On the summit, climbers are rewarded with panoramic views of nearly all of the North Cascades from the northerly Mount Baker all the way to Glacier Peak to the south. The summit also offers a rare glimpse of the elusive Northeast Face of Mount Goode. This is typically an 8-9 hour day round trip from the parking lot.
The focus of this day will be to move efficiently on 4th class and low fifth class terrain. The guide(s) will select a longer objective that matches the needs and interests of the group. Expect a big day with stellar climbing in an uncompromising position in the mountains. Cutthroat Peak or Spontaneity Arête are the two most probable options for this day. Climbers can expect a full 10-12 hours of hiking and climbing.
Liberty Bell is one of the most iconic mountains in the Pacific Northwest and the Beckey Route its most classic way to the summit. This route has 4-5 pitches of technical climbing up to 5.6, which leads to a short bit of moderate terrain just below the top. Climbing Liberty Bell is a great way to finish the program and usually requires 8 hours round-trip from the car. Depending on the goals of the group, Kangaroo Temple (5.6), Blue’s Buttress (5.6) on Poster Peak, or Prime Rib (5.9) on the Goat Wall in Mazama are also options for this final day.
I thoroughly enjoyed the expedition. Everyone was very supportive, considerate, and caring to the climbers on the expedition. Even though this is the first AA expedition where I did not summit, I will say it was one of my favorite in large part due to Ben, Lakpa, and Tshering.