Joel Kauffman takes on sustained Red Dihedral 5.10c pitch 4 on the Incredible Hulk in the High Sierras CA ~ Photo Mark Allen

Follow Mark and his partners in crime attempting to climb the "Big 4" Alpine Rock Climbs in the Sierra. Also share the rope with Fred Becky and follow how Mark kicked off his season by training in Bishop CA.


Chris Daymartin approaches Rainbow Mountain in Red Rock National Conservation Area through desert flora. Our early morning group make an alpine start on the classic Crimson Chrysalis III 5.8****. The route climbs the largest tower in the Right side of Mountain.


Red Rock Recreational National Conservation Area (NCA) just out side of Las Vegas was my stomping grounds for three weeks this October 2008. 13 Mile BLM campground was my home. I hit the road this fall with the intent to once again focus on technical climbing and not on guiding. This was a long time coming. As a guide chasing my AMGA certification I felt this development to be a necessary in order to raise the bar. Idling the grade of 5.10 for the last ten years it was time to step off the plateau. I chose Red Rocks as one of three key destinations this year for a two-and-a -half month tour de climb in the Southwestern United States along with the Sierras and Joshua Tree. I have avoided this nomadic circuit out of love and time in the Northwest. This time I captured it with both hands. During any length of time in one place I get to see the coming and going of new and old faces. The ebb and flow of social waves is an appreciated part of the climbing life. The reunion of acquaintances is turning us into friends; an effect out of common goals in interests. This year this was highlighted in the deserts of Nevada.


Re-entry into Red Rocks
I teamed up with some great climbers this year. The day I dropped into the area I was already sharing a rope with Todd Passy on Unimpeachable Groping (A climb referring to Clinton during his trial). This is a popular 8 pitch, 5.10 sport clip-up on Rainbow Mountain. It was a reflective moment for me. The last time I had any interaction with this climb was when George Urriosity and Paul Van Beaten, the two first ascentionists, were finishing the climb in 1997. The two climbers pick up me and good friend Matt Anderson hitch hiking into the loop road of Red Rocks during our first visit. George and Paul hounded us to try their new route. I was too intimidated to try the second ascent as an unseasoned 19 year-old. It was the time my climbing was naive and reeked of epic. Twelve years later it sounded like a fun day out.

Todd Passey climbing the Rainbow Wall on Bird Hunters Buttress III 5.9*. This is a partial retro bolted route that climbs to the top of the Wall. Quite the adventure climb on one of Red Rocks proudest features. ~ Photo Mark Allen

Todd and his wife Winslow are veteran Alpine Ascents guides and live in Salt lake Utah. I met both of them in Alaska on the Kahlitna glacier during an ascent of Denali and later became friends in Antarctica when we all worked on Vinson. Todd is a great partner. His quiet humble character is refreshing to be around. He doesn’t talk things up much but then takes the pitches that others don’t want to. We rack up with little conversation. The gangster rap that he religiously listens to on the way to the rocks contrasts his demeanor.

Todd floated the first pitch which oddly began by climbing a tree for 20ft. The climbing was steep and not terribly positive, though the movement was easy to unlock. The wall's steepness and hanging belays try to grind you down. Small roofs and exposed cruxes of 10b and c kept each pitch going. The momentum of our climbing and the partnership gained on every pitch. We had linked too many pitches and shortened the route into a 6-pitch route by climbing longer pitches. We were left standing on the summit out of rock to climb and were almost disappointed we had made it to the summit so fast. It was good to be back at Red Rocks.

Some of my favorite routes climbed this season:

Fox 5.10c****
Unimpeachable Groping II 5.10c **
Triassic Sands II 5.10b ***
Wholesome fullback 5.10a ***
The Warrior III 5.10d (first 4) ***
Purblind Pillar III 5.7 *
Epinephrine V 5.9*****
Bird Hunters Buttress III 5.9*
Mushroom People 5.10c**
Out of Control 5.10c***
Community Pillar III 5.9**
Dark Shadows 5.8****
Bird Land 5.8**
Sour Mash III 5.10b *****
Crimson Chrysalis III 5.8****
Eagle Dance IV 5.10c****
Dream of Wild Turkeys IV 5.10****

Black Velvet Canyon. This wall holds many Red Rock classics like Dream of Wild Turkeys IV 5.10****, Sour Mash III 5.10b *****,Epinephrine V 5.9***** The list is long. This would become my favorite place to climb this October.


The next day Todd and I teamed up with co-guides Jonathan Spitzer (AKA The Bigspitz) and Andy Rich. Todd and Andy are down getting ready for their AMAG rock guide exam and John and I are just climbing. Groups of climbers who have similar interest pal around together like a band, each member having a different strengths. On top of that you have to enjoy each other’s company. John, Todd, and I share campsite 12, Andy next door. Every morning we woke up just before dawn to avoid the sun turning the tents into a convection oven. Todd was the other coffee junkie so we could count on one another to make it. Todd was the elder. We would all make decisions together, but Todd’s word usually stood. We referred to him as the Todd Father. This resembled the name I gave him when the two of us worked in Antarctica. After summating Mt. Vinson in 2008, Todd performed the marriage of AAI lead guide Vern Tahas and Vern’s girlfriend on the summit of Mt. Vinson. Todd pronounced the bond and I pronounced Todd “the Reverend”. Todd and Andy had a good history. It was easy to see Todd’s respect for him as a climbing partner, co-worker, and friend. Andy is what we call solid. Even that is an understatement. Todd, John, and I had the humbling experience a few times watching Andy from the belay climb the crux pitch while laughing and hooting, then we all grunted up behind him. (Todd I bet you're mumbling under your breath..."I didn't do much grunting.." . True. But Andy climbs like a cat, we climb like football players by comparison).

The four of us rolled out to Black Velvet Canyon for some cragging. John 28 and myself 30 teamed up while the two "old boys" Todd and Andy made plans for a whipfest on Our Father a 3 pitch 5.10d. John and I climbed the classic Triassic Sands a 4-pitch 5.10c finger and hand crack and linked it up with Wholesome Fullback a two pitch 5.10a (which is much harder than any pitch on TS). This is a classic AMGA exam problem and it made for good practice. That day was my transition back into Red Rocks crack climbing. I led all the pitches. I also got five cams stuck. Jonathan was more than patient with me. On occasion, we used water to wet the sandstone in contact with the cam lobes which puts the calcium carbonate matrix of the sandstone into solution and makes it slippery. A technique often used by climbers in sandstone providing a good chance of getting the welded cam out. When found without water on route the climber resorts to spitting or even urinating on the piece. Desperate measures for desperate times.

Willie Benegas follows pitch 3 on Bird Hunters Buttress III 5.9* on the Rainbow Wall.~ Photo Mark Allen


The motivations of climbers rarely stay unanimous in a group. This creates an swapping of partnerships in small groups of climbers. Eventually, you all will have had a turn with one another and you will go with whom ever is matching your wavelength for the current moment. My second main partnership would be with Willie Benegas. I can’t begin to say enough about him. He is a very accomplished alpinist, sponsored climber, and renowned guide. He and his twin brother Damian cut their teeth in Patagonia Argentina. The two became prolific climbers through their unique partnership. The North Face picked up the dynamic duo and now sends them all over the world on test piece adventures. All of this made perfect sense to me during our climb on the Red Rock super classic Epinephrine a grade V 5.9.

Willie Climbs pitch 4 of the Epi Chinmeys with fantastic speed. I was impressed by his confidence and form. This was still within the first 45min of climbing ~Photo Mark Allen

His fitness was hinted to me when we started running to the base of the climb from the car. He was already a very different partner from my two previous. While running up the wash and pulling over a boulder amazingly we were still able to have a conversation about the ins and outs of his current adventurous love life. We get to the base in 15min on an approach that always has taken me 25. No moment was wasted. We ate and simultaneously racked up. Willie was climbing in no more than 3 minutes after arriving at the base of the 1500ft rock climb. We climbed it in two blocks. Willie took all pitches to the ledge atop of the chimneys (1-5) and I took all the pitches leading off the ledge to the top (6-13). Willie climbed like he had jet packs on. Sometimes I couldn’t pay rope out fast enough when he was on easy ground. We climbed 5
pitches in 1 hr 15min. It was now my lead.

Willie seconding Pitch 7 on Epinephrine. My favorite pitch of the whole climb. Steep finger crack that locks your fingers into place. The climbing was steep and fast~ Photo Mark Allen

I was concerned that during my blocks the momentum would brake down, though I found myself in a zone and was able to climb fast. The way the cracks and holds unfolded felt secure, comfortable, and familiar. This was my type of climbing and I had lead these pitches before. We flew up steep and slightly kicked back featured finger and hand cracks. My leads still did not quite have the same snappy clip as Willie’s did because I was placing about 200% more gear, which still was not a lot. We broke down the system and climbed the last 400ft in simul-climbing. We summiting in 3hrs and 40min. We were really excited about our achievement.

The two of us on the Summit of Whiskey Peak after climbing the Epinephrine in 3hrs 40min. We topped out at Noon and went to the casino for lunch. This was a very cool day. ~self Photo

Willie taught me a lot during our short day out. Mostly he showed me a new potential. If you want to go-fast, go fast all the time. It was incredible to watch him work, be fast, and remain calm. Small time saving tricks were always used if one could. Every trick saved time like gaining points. It felt like we received these points back in energy. I have never climbed so much rock and not felt tired. He also reinforced the need for a high level of fitness. His ability to not fatigue, later recover, and climb with equal intensity the next day were unparalleled. He is alarmingly swift on 2nd and 3rd class terrain. I often had to slow down so I didn’t hurt myself during our descent. He crushed me and once again I found myself running on the tail to the car. This was my favorite day at Red Rocks

The following day Willie would asked me for an equally long day. I was feeling a bit torn, since I was neglecting my other travel companions from IMG and feeling the need to train for my AMGA exam coming up. It was hard to not give in to the offer. Willie sensed my predicament. He took the high road. "No problem, I think I will solo something tomorrow?".."I think I will solo Epinephrine!" And that is exactly what he did. By trimming the fat of a partner, he shaved 1 hr 4o min off his day. It was very good to get his phone message after he got back to the car and hear his excitement. Now you know what I am speaking of when I said that "All of this made perfect sense to me.." with regards to his ability.


My co-workers Max Bunce, Eric Gullickson, and Dan Otter came down for an extended rock trip. I had worked with all summer on Mt. Rainer. It was good to see them in a totally opposite environments. After we got them acclimated on a few route these young bucks were throwing themselves out of the nest. They chose routes at were testing their limits and skills and every time they went out they got 200% better. It wasn’t a smooth ride for them. After two weeks they finally ticked off a test piece route and got back to camp before dark. We were all stoked for them.

Mark Allen and Eric Gullickson on top of Community Pillar 5.9 III in Red Rocks, NV~ Photo Mark Allen

My brother Jay and his climbing partner Chris Daymartin flew down for four days. They too are in the early stages of efficient climbing. Jay, is one of the most supportive people I have in my life and it’s always cool to have him join me for segments of my adventures. This was my first time around Chris. I’m glad my brother has him as a climber partner. I love taking Jay out because he is always so enthusiastic. Every climb is the best climb he has ever done. Its fun to be around him and his partner because they have gained some good skills in the past two years through trails, the best way to learn why we do things. I was glad to take them to places they wouldn’t normally go.

Jay Allen and Chris Daymartin Hang at belay 8 of Crimson Chrysalis III 5.8****. We climbed the dividing the pitches between the three of us. I think it was huge hightlight of their trip.~Photo Mark Allen

I see these friends being part of a similar social wave to me. I had similar climbing relationships with them. They are all friends to good friends. We are a closer knit. The people that know you best, the good and the bad. I also see them going through much of the same steps I went through not so long ago with my climbing. I took this as a good opportunity to give them some of what I have learned and not taking the long way like I did. In return, I was able practice my guiding techniques that I was being tested on by the AMGA in the weeks to come. Even though is was not test-piece climbing for me, it was some of the most enjoyable. I learned something every climb and proves to me again that there are many levels of climbing to appreciate. Comradship and a good partnership are two of the most important.

Jay Allen climbing Neon Sunset 5.8*** at one of the many sport climbing areas at Red Rocks. This was a day that we all took turns falling on lead to improve our head space. Jay's climbing improved ten fold after he took several lead falls. ~Photo Mark Allen


The climbers jokingly refer to the campsite as Afghanistan. The location of the BLM campsite is less than desirable. Climbers come back from long day, to cook in the open desert on cement slabs and metal tables exposed to the wind and sun. The wind picks up sand and anything not heavy enough to overcome its force make a long list that include full beer bottles, camp chairs, and tents. It is not uncommon to see an unseasoned car camper come back and find their tent 10 sites over in a cactus or still in motion like nylon tumble weed. Just over the hill to the east, less than a ½ a mile away, the LVPD has a private shooting range. Many officers hit the range before heading to work and several times we were awakened to the sound of a semi-automatic weapon unloading a monster clip. To top it off the camp managers rule the place with martial law. Armed federal law enforcers are often tending to the trouble makers who are escorted by the senior citizen couple who drive the camp host golf cart complete with “W” stickers. One can only stay for 14 days. My friend was once escorted off the premises by a federal lawman after 15 days with the same methods used in domestic violence scenes from COPS. The transient climber planning to stay longer adapts several techniques to effectively disappear and yet still reside in the campsite. We call this action “going dark”.

Tactics On “Going Dark”
1. The volunteer camp host records your stay via license plate. By storing an available vehicle in a Casino parking garage allows you to swap cars around when needing more days.
3. It is good to delegate a camp host liaison that only deals with host during the span of current vehicle on the pay stub. By association it appears your stay is shorter that it is.
3. Taking the rain fly off the tent making it appear like a new resident
4. Switching camp sites with new swapped cars and tents
5. Hair cuts
6. Fake mustaches
7. Fake accents

All of these techniques have proven to be effective. This situation provides for much entertainment during your stay. A long stay here is a testament to how much we enjoy the climbing. I also see it as a blessing. This will never be camp 4 of Yosemite but Red Rocks will never have the crowds that are an epidemic in the Valley. It will never have the nostalgia either.

South Fork of Pine Creek Canyon. ~Photo Mark Allen


Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada's first National Conservation Area located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip on Charleston Boulevard/State Route 159. The area is 195,819 acres and is visited by thousands of climbers each year. In marked contrast to a town focused on entertainment, bling-bling, and gaming, Red Rock Canyon offers hundreds sport climbs, moderate multi-pitch rock climbs, and long Alpine routes. "Alpine Routes" you ask? Absolutely. The nature of the red rock terrain is such that it yields climbing that requires the skills of an alpine rock climber. Tall faces and towers, interesting approaches, adventure climbing, and complicated descents evoke many of the same strategies required to climb in places like Washington Pass in the North Cascades or the High Sierra in California.

Mt. Wilson, the largest massif in the Spring Mountains. This is home to the longest routes at Red Rock~ Photo Mark Allen


600 million years ago, the area later to be Red Rock, was part of a deep ocean basin. This captured many marine fossils making a huge deposit of limestone. By around 180 million years ago the terrestrial basin area east and South of the Sierra Volcanic chain in California had become part of a massive desert with shifting red sands and huge dune fields. Visitors today can see evidence of the lithophytes dunes preserved in the sandstone as a crosscutting sweep. After the sand was deposited more sand would be deposited on top of the pervious layer by yet another migrating sand dune. This system was repeated depositing thousands of feet of sand. The weight of the sand combined with minerals in the ground water would bond the sand with two types of matrix, or glue, Calcium Carbonate making the sandstone appear tan and iron oxide Hematite making the sandstone have a rusted look...hence the name Red Rocks.

Beginning approximately 65 million years ago, during a phase of the Larimide Orogeny, famous for shaping most of Idaho and Western Montana, the earths crust also was tectonically active this area. A large system of thrust faults extending south and as far north as Canada developed. Thrust faults result in some rather unusual effects. This particular thrust fault created one of the most interesting features of Red Rock Canyon, the Keystone Thrust. Here older layers 600 million y/o Limestone with seashells and extinct corals were tectonically thrust over younger layers of 180 million y/o Red Quartz Sandstone. This amazing contrast of not only age but is also visually striking. This appears as a line shooting across the Spring Mountains between the gray and red stone.

This area was tectonically uplifted to be 2000ft-3000 above sea level. As always when terrain is above see level it gets carved down by water shed. Ephemeral streams and washes have cut deep canyons and faces in the rock making the perfect venue for rock climbers such as ourselves to test our skills.

More recently, the ancient Anasazi left their mark on some of the rock faces in the form of petroglyphs. Unfortunately due to vandalism, many of the Petroglyph areas are unmarked and their locations are kept secret.


WA PASS: S.E.W.S; Southern Man

WA PASS: S.E.W.S; East Complete

WA PASS: S.E.W.S; Mojo Rising

WASHINGTON: First Complete Traverse of the Silverstar Massif VI 5.9+

First Ascent: Mark Allen and Mike Layton 8/24-8/26 2005. VI 5.9+

Post by Mike Layton

Arial Photo of the East ridge of Silverstar to the Summit. Our hearts sank the first time we beheld its true size. ~Photo John Scurlock

Mark and I finally completed a dream of ours we’ve talked about, but never found the time between the two of us for the past three years It’s gonna be hard to write this up since my memory is terrible and I don’t really know how to begin. I guess I’ll start from the beginning...

Day One: East Ridge of Silverstar V 5.9+

We had 4am wake up at Mark’s unibomber cabin in Mazama, downed some eggs and coffee, shuttled a bike to Silverstar creek and dove the shaggin wagon to the Cedar Creek trailhead. It was pitch black out Mark realized when his petzel “weaka” barely illuminated his shoes as he tied them. It was calm and the stars were blazing. The Northern Lights pulsed across the night sky. Truly spectacular start to a long long trip.

There’s a horse trail that leaves the Cedar Creek trail about 100 yards from the start and is basically a wooded spur off the east ridge of Silverstar. We took the steep trail about 4 miles of uphill grind wondering the whole time, “where the hell does the east ridge of Silverstar start?”

Our hearts sank for the 1st of many many many times when we fist saw the beast, the East Ridge of Silverstar, put up by Childs in the early 90's. It’s only seen a handful of ascents and we had zero beta. Sweet. The climbing started TWO MILES from the summit of Silverstar along an exposed ridge with lots of scrambling and climbing. Our first two raps occurred after about an hour of climbing. We could see the ridge lead up steeply to junction of ridges that block our view. The summit must be just behind

Nope, our hearts sank again after we pulled off some really spooky exposed soloing when we saw the summit another full mile away up an enormously long and confusing ridge with an unbelievable amount of sub peaks and high points. Crap, our noon summit estimate is out the friggin window

Lots and lots of soloing up the ridge (up to 5.6) brought us to the base of the Silver Horn. We tried a new route up the east ridge, but we kept blanking out in 5.10 land in tennis shoes and a long way to go still. More raps and some traversing (below Berdinka/Thibaults route on the middle ledge section...looks great ) brought Mark and I to a steep chimney system that we soloed using full stemming between walls. Very exciting. We topped out on the Silver Horn, rapped back onto the ridge and wondered where in the hell folks were going on this ridge. All our raps were new ones, so we assumed that the people who were doing the regular E.ridge route avoided the silver horn. Who knows? Route finding is full on.

Hours later of continuous climbing (to 5.9+), rapping, mind blowing exposure, dead ends, heart sinking moments of “crap, we gotta find a way through this ), and making sure we stuck to the ridge to keep a clean line (unsure where reg e.ridge goes) we reached the summit. We had one hell of a time getting around huge gendarmes that block passage on the entire width of the ridge (a major problem on this climb) and there were lots more sub summits than we could have possible anticipated. Also there was fresh snow and frozen moss to keep us on our toes for when we were on the north side of the ridge.

Wasting no time (we took zero breaks during the climb on all 3 days) we dropped down to the saddle below the main summit. 11 hours of climbing, 13.5 hours from the car. The way we went on the east ridge was a grade V 5.9+. Full on climbing all day long. Time to bivy. We melted snow and filled our long dry bottles. It got down to 28 degree that night with a brisk wind, so our bivy pads of 8mm rope didn’t make too comfortable of a sleep. Luckily the whiskey I snuck in my pack helped. Then I burned my sleeping bag on the stove and had somehow lost my tape, so I had to ridge a down tourniquet with some perlon. Feathers float about as we slept on and off.

The Old Woman Tower on the Left and the Wine Spire group center and the Burgundy Col Bivi on the right. ~Photo John Scurlock

DAY TWO: West Peak Silverstar-Old Woman-All the Wine Spires V 5.9+

It took a huge amount of willpower to get out of “bed” as it was still in the high twenties when we got going. Mark chugged his water the night before while I hoarded mine. I started to make some more water when I got about 8 ounces before the stove quite. Silence. No more fuel. Mark shoved his water bladder full of snow hoping it would melt against his back during the day. It actually worked

The “easy” west peak of Silverstar took way longer than we expected and we had to rap a few times b/c our crampon less tennis shoes didn’t really want to stick to the steep frozen dirt snow. The frozen dirt snow proved a constant pain in the ass. Then getting to the Old Women took longer than we thought. But when we got there and peered down the abyss 400 feet straight down to dizzying and impossible looking array of wine spires our hearts really sank. Both of us wanted to quit. Go home. Bail. Screw this, we’re gonna die. But we rapped off anyway on our nth rap we had to set up with the 50 feet of dwindling tat I brought.

We traversed around to the East Face of Chablis and did the Beckey route. Great fun. 2 pitches, some runout steep face climbing, and some simul climbing to the wildly exposed summit. We looked across to Pernod spire. How the hell are we gonna get up this? The east was sheer, the west was a huge ridge we’d have to rap forever to get to, and the South face rose impossibly up from the col. But the s.face did have cracks. I gulped and told Mark I’d give it a go.

I climbed extremely timidly up the vertical wall wondering at every moment if the cracks would continue and if I fell would my gear hold. I pulled the roof and ran outta gear. Mark came up and finished the pitch up a great handcrack/layback. We had no idea it had been climbed before. (This face was visited by Cliff Light and Co.)

More rapping, downclimbing, and climbing up a horrible horrible chimney/gully system took Mark and I to the North Face of Chianti Spire. My lead. This pitch was hands down the scariest, loosest, worse, most run-out piece of s*%!t pitch I’ve ever climbed. The rock was finnish before you go insane scary. Mark called it “a life or death” lead. I was glad to be done. More rapping.

One more to go Mark did a terrifying pitch up the south face of Burgundy from the notch. An exposed fingertip traverse with 3 foot tall pedestals that were so loose you HAD to only push down with your feet. Unfortunalty those were the only footholds, and I stepped on the 1st one the wrong way and it started to totter over and fall, so I hooked it with my toes and tipped it back into place so I could 2nd the traverse. Two more pitches took us to the top. I forgot what Mark called this "new" route but it was also 5.9+.

Four double rope raps and we were at Burgundy Col. 11.5 hours of climbing. Out of water once more. Mark and I were excited to be done and go home. Mark said he only had two days because he had to work the next day. But then Mark said something that changed everything “Yeah, I gotta work Saturday morning, tomorrow. Bummer” To which I replied, “Mark, today is Thursday” We instantly had another day. There was still more to climb We took stock of our food situation...we had enough for a small dinner of snacks, and a couple bars for the next day. No water though. We bombed down burgundy col east toward Chianti and found trickles in the old glacier ice. We had to finnish the Whisky. It was the only canister small enough to collect our water. With full bottles we slogged back to the col and had another minimal bivy and slight buzz. It was great

Day Three Vasiliki Ridge IV 5.9+

Vasiliki Tower starts it right off from Burgundy Col. We encountered some unbelievable s%!*y rock on this climb (from the south east ridge) and I had yet another hate filled vomit inspiring I’m gonna fucking die lead. My cams for the 1st part were probably more dangerous in the rock than running it out since when the inevitable ripped out of the rock if I fell, the block that would come down would kill Mark. Good times. Then I began gardening. All Mark saw was a waterfall of dirt pour down 75 feet up. He had the cam I needed in the belay too, so I doubled up in the same spot and went for it. Thank god it went too. Yet another 5.9+

The Acropils, Charon and Ares tower went down way easier than we thought and our hearts almost didn’t sink when we headed for the “final bit,” Juno-Jupiter tower. Jupiter was the before Juno and an exposed but easy crack took us to the top. Then our hearts sank. It was impossible to get to Juno tower. We tried a lot of craziness to make things go over the past three days, and this wouldn’t go. We had to do lots more rapping and very scary down climbing to the West. Long ribs shot down boarded by deep gullies of marginal rock and we climbed up rapped down them looking for a way up. By the time we found a way up we were past Juno. We were way outta water and food. Getting up the remaining pitches horrid rock seemed so forced and contrived. So we got back on the ridge and finished the traverse . 8 hours of climbing on day 3. Hunger was extreme by the decent, and somehow we found the energy to run the last section (the trail to the car) of the Silverstar creek decent. Mark got the privilege of biking to the car (made it back in less than ½ hour ) which I wanted b/c I get bored sitting and waiting.

All told we did 24 high points/summits and 28 rappels, took 3 full days of climbing, and did 4 miles of rock climbing (not including the approach or descent). It was a major traverse of the longest unbroken section of ridge in Washington Pass, thus the name “The Washington Pass Traverse” but it never stuck and the community calls it the "Silverstar Traverse". We feel confident in our grade 6 rating, and our 5.9+ is a conservative estimate of the pitches of “not quite 5.10 . We needed two ropes and about 100 feet of tat. God only knows how many "pitches" We stuck to the ridge crest as much as possible, dropping off the ridge only when absolutely necessary...sometimes sticking to the ridge too much We had a full rack up to a 3 cam and emptied the rack on several pitches. Future parties can add to this traverse by climbing the E.ridge of the silverhorn, and figuring a way up Juno to the south. We weren’t very sad about not tagging juno, 1/24 of the climb and ten feet from the summit we were on anyhow...not such a big deal for us. We are very happy about the whole thing and will be happy to provide beta, or get beta from past ascensionists of some of the more obscure peaks and routes we climbed. And before you (you know who you are) start bitching and wining and thinking of little things to say to call our bluff, go climb it yourself. Mark and I tried doing this climb in the best style possible, no Caches, carrying everything, no topos execpt for chianti and chablis. We made it up as we went along.

Hat’s off to you if you read the whole thing. That’s a feat in itself.

-Mike Layton

WASHINGTON: First Ascent of SILVERSTAR MOUNTAIN West Face, Central Couloir

Climb: SILVERSTAR MOUNTAIN West Face, Central Couloir

Date of Climb: 3/15/2005

Trip Report:
Washington Pass

West Face, Central couloir

FA; March 15 2005: Mark Allen , Anne Keller

This week Anne Keller and I agreed to attempt an undescribed line that we had both noticed over the year. This classic alpine couloir splits the West Face of the 8,800ft Silver Star Mt. It struck me one Fall day all and I couldn’t wait for spring. Originally we both dreamt of harvesting it as a ski descent, but we noticed ice! I remarked on its directness and surprised by its steep and narrow appearance. The 1,900 ft long ribbon of steep snow and gully ice shoots the whole relief of the West Face and seamed to have uniform width cutting deep into the face. We began our day at 6:15am and regretfully left the snowshoes in he car. The morning started off with demoralizing post holing until we gained the bare trail. We final got to the base at 8:30am and noticed a flow of water ice marking the couloir entrance. The ice was not climbable so we scrambled easy rock and began to simul climb in perfect neve’ and smears of gully ice. The Snow was perfect. The walls became very high around us and the couloirs became slightly steeper as we progressed. We came to the first of two mixed cruxes. The A large bolder chock stone with steep ice smears poring off both sides of the rock’s interface with the main couloir walls. The left yielded rotten ice yet the right side went at a fun M4 for a sort pitch. Leading the pitch I was forced to ditch the pack to fit through the chock slot. The Couloir again narrowed and became slightly steeper and the conditions and climbing continued to improve with every step. Looking out to the Cascades the walls perfectly framed the Liberty bell group. We could look down the steep drainage and see the walls of the couloir cleave down the West Face for several hundred feet. Before we reached the summit ridge the second mixed crux would meet us with a second chock boulder. This crux is shorter at M3 and was climbed on the left up a small coulomb of ice. Anne stepped off the snow up the final 125ft of the line on easy rock and topped out on the flat slopes just a few hundred feet North of the West Peak. We celebrated our summit with a short alpine potlatch and began our decent down the Glacier to burgundy col and back to the Methow valley.

WASHINGTON: First Ascent of Silver Tooth, SW buttress: The Crown 5.9+ II+

North Cascades, Washington Pass

Silver Tooth, SW buttress: The Crown 5.9+ II+
FA: Mark Allen, Doug Sredinsky August 6th 2004

On August 6th new line was explored on the western aspect of the Snag Tooth ridge belonging to the Siverstar Massif at Washington Pass. Doug Sredinsky and myself approached the ridge primarily via Burgundy col trail then contoured into the willow creek drainage to revisit a large undescribed satellite buttress. This feature is on the north aspect of the Snag Tooth ridge system and trends SW It was dubbed the Silver Tooth for its relation to the Snag Tooth ridge, close proximity to Silver Star, and its characteristic triangular white granite buttress. From the top a long crescent shaped ridge leads to the Snagtooth’s three final towers. The buttress reviled some exiting climbing on clean granite on a route climber’s right of the futures main cleave.
The first four pitches climb hand and finger cracks averaging 5.7-5.8 with some interesting sporty climbing at three distinct cruxes up to 5.9+. The first 650ft were climbed in three 200ft pitches and one short 50ft pitch to the top of the triangle (silver tooth). Doug and I saw fantastic views the jagged jawbone belonging the Snagtooth Ridge, Silver Star, Big Kangaroo and the Liberty Bell group. We changed gears to simul and climbed an amazing 1200ft long exposed mid-fifth class ridge over three independent towers for the remaining 600ft vertical. The route deposits you 100yds south off the West Buttress of Silver Star and allows for an exhilarating scree ski back down to the Burgundy Col trail and car. The Crown is 5.9+ 5 pitches was done car to car in a little over half a day. No pins, bolts or tat were required. A nice little quickie.

WASHINGTON: First Ascent of Burgundy Spire, North East Buttress Direct, FA Ultramega OK 5.10c/d (A0) or 5.11 III

Burgundy Spire, North East Buttress Direct, Ultramega OK 5.10c/d (A0) or 5.11 III

July 24th, 2006

FA: Mark Allen, Tom Smith

Tom Smith and I spied a route up the Northeast aspect of the Burgundy Wine Spire during the second free ascent of the East Face, Action Potential, on July 22nd. The line caught my eye and I was able to carry it for several imaginary pitches on anastomozing crack systems in solid granite. On July 24th we left the North Cascades Highway at 7:30am after consuming jet fuel at the Mazama store and approached the base of the wall. We started up the first pitch of an independent line, 10ft right of Action Potential's Bugaboo pitches and shared the first belay. We trundled some good belayer-slayers and cast off into a chimney that was succeeded by an amazing right facing corner.

Tom Smith Racking up for the crux pitch 5 ~Photo Mark Allen

The system continued via hand and finger cracks as predicted by our previous scouting. Later the route unexpectedly forced us to explore an interesting weakness that loomed above. We stood on a ledge below an open book seam leading to an amazing double-roofed hand-to-first crack with changing corners. Lichen made it impossible to free climb. Tom aided the seam and freed the difficult roofs at 5.10c/d. As the second I was able to free the newly clean seam and concluded that it should be 5.11.

Tom Smith at hanging it out at belay top of crux pitch 5. Burgundy col bellow the airy stance. ~Photo Mark Allen

We continued to discover finger and hand crack systems made more exciting by great exposure and position to the galcier below. We followed the system with enthusiasm provoked by views of Vasaliki ridge and the Silver Star Glacier drainage.

Mark Allen on pitch 6. A 5.9+ finger crack and face climb for 60m. This is when we knew it would go! ~Photo Tom Smith

Tom led the amazing last spicy pitch and topped out on Burgundy's north shoulder joining the Original Route (Becky, Hane, Parrott, 1953) for a final pitch to the summit block at 8:30pm. I was amazed at the quality of another unclimbed Burgundy Face.

Mark Allen cleans the second to last pitch toping out the buttress on the North Shoulder of Burgundy Spire. The route now joins the Original Route (Becky, Hane, Parrott, 1953) for a final pitch to the summit block. This meant we did it!

This route retained high quality climbing at a consistent 5.8-5.9 rating with a stellar 5.11 crux; this is the most attactive line that Burgundy has to offer on any aspect to date. V*S*O*P* old boy! But we would not reap the rewards without a price. Upon our descent of the the North Face our rope hung up on two separate consecutive occasions forcing us to re-lead the descent and once via headlamp. After repeating the third rappell, falling rock core-shot one of the lines. Finally, at the Burgundy Col we reclined in our pile of rope, rested and exchanged a few words of celebration. During this reflection we were rewarded with the Aurora Borealis, which Tom had never seen, across the silhouetted North Cascades. At 1:00am, we returned to the Highway and to the cold Pabst Blue Ribbon chilling in the Early Winters Creek. The route was done car-to-car, free of tat or bolts. Two Lost Arrows were placed at the crux belay and one remains. Climbing at 5.11( 5.10c/d A0) III+ with seven pitches at 5.8, 5.9, 5.8, 5.11, 5.9+, 5.9, 5.8, the route was named Ultramega OK

Topo by Mark Allen




First Ascent of the North Face of the "Cheval"

LE PETIT CHEVAL Northwest Face Paul Revere II+ 5.9+
FA: Mark Allen, Ben Mitchell October 23, 2006

Trip Report: Mark Allen

It is hard to drive down the 20 without noticing it. As one travels over the pass it is staged in front of the Silverstar Massif and under the Shadow of the Liberty Bell Group. The three almost triplet flatiron features have caught the eye of many. The group form the three “Chevals” making the Western and Northwestern base of the Big Kangaroo Massif. Being the main paleoglacial valley these walls have over steepened and exposed solid granite for the taking. Little exploration has been done here. The faces have been subtly documented first in the Red Fred as the “Pale Horse Rock” and the “White Horse Rock” on the Washington Pass overview map
(p.292 ). The next time they are mentioned would be by Bryan Burdos North Cascades Rock guide showcasing the Black Horse Point Buttress. Burdo references the Chevals by calling them the “Buttress that faces the highway” in the Black horse figure. After reviewing the references it would seem that we have more names than features. I reckon that Black Horse Point Buttress and White Horse Rock to be the same feature. This is the North facing long lichen-black buttress in the Willow drainage (best seen from the approach to the Wine Spires on the Burgundy Creek trail) and white it is not. The Pale Horse Rock seems to be the right (southern most) and highest of the three Chevals. The 2000ft of 2nd and 3rd class approach to this feature extinguishes any desire to climb the grade II face. The central Cheval has a similar approach but looks to yield far better climbing. The left Cheval (northern most Cheval and southwest of the Black Horse) is the closest and has an approach that is quite tangible. The first time any of these features were climbed and named was not until Larry Goldie and Scott Johnston in June of 2004.
Their account mentioned driving to climb the East Buttress of SEWS and caught the Southern arete of this feature and turned the car around and sent it. They named the feature the Le Petit Cheval sticking to the horse theme and their route appropriately named Spontaneity Arete II+ 5.7. A farmed guide-route that has received several ascents and mixed reviews some love some maso manos. Exploratory and noteworthy for now climbers simply refer to these three-like features as the Chevals.

On October 22, 2006 Ben Mitchell and I would no longer drive past the Northwest face of the Le Petit Cheval. For years I was curious about its character. To be honest I am surprised nobody has ever bothered. So many times I have stared up at it. So many times I have just climbed something else just like everyone else. Its close proximity to 20 and its relatively short stature looked like a last good fall project for the closing short days.
Ben and I made it to the base in 1.5 hrs. Instead of parking at the Mile post 165 for Spontaneity Arete we chose the next northern pullout directly in front of the NW face. We drooped directly into the forest and headed across the creek to the drainage climbers left of the walls center. To say that it was chill would be a bold faced lie, but very do-able. 75% was rather quick and uneventful. The later 25% would have 3rd to 4th sections
covered in moss and needles. The green belay was helpful.
5th class bush whacking. Finally we made it to the landing just below the center of the face at 10:30am.

We both had an uneasy feeling. The face was not riddled with obvious cracks or fantastic weaknesses but rather crackless dihedral, impossible cracks to nowhere, or unfeatured slabs. Yet, the wall did have a main weakness looking like an easy 5th class scramble. Both freezing we settled on starting the wall simul climbing to gain better terrain. Pitch 1.After 200ft Ben established a belay on a good ledge with a tree. We had a few interesting options. We switched to pitching.

Pitch 2
I cast out trending right into a super fun hand to finger crack. I got to fingers and was getting schooled. I still had a rope in my pack …clipped it and pulled a stiff 5.9 finger crux on solid rock through a small tricky bulge and set up the belay at 70ft to deal with the pack.

Pitch 3
I told Ben that since my pitch was so short I would take the next pitch also. Now set up for success I left the belay with doubles and up a fun short dihedral. After gaining a small ledge I saw the remainder of the weakness to the near summit looking to be easy fifth class again. I climbed 15ft and passed twin hand cracks splitting the upper shield of the feature for the next 350ft. “Oh my…” I would have to be mad not to try. I stepped in and for the next 70ft would be pure 5.9 crack bliss. I would not say that I styled it. I had a lot on my mind. The cold, my pack, my pump, my last shitty piece, not having any gear that I needed to ease my mind in this sustained size. “Thank-God” jams finally! The pain was over and I could see a stance. I pounded a knife blade, set up my belay. Ben wondering what the hell is taking so long since my last report of chill 5th to the top. Dink, dink, dink, ping, ping, ping! His patients is admirable. Once Ben climbed the cracks himself he was happy with the new deviation that launched us into classic cracks. Ben reached my perch. He looked cold.

Pitch 4:
I tried to take as much of the hard climbing to not sand bag him on his lead but it was stiff right off the anchor and definitely the routes crux. Ben launched into a hard 5.9+ lay-back off width and cruised into the rest of his relatively sustained pitch. Hand cracks, jugs, dihedrals, fingers…this 130ft pitch was full value and fantastic climbing. Ben did had an amazingly cool head and just hypnotically climbed it. At my belay I had time to admire the steepness that the wall took on. I had a fantastic view of the East faces of the Liberty Bell group and Tower. I knew now that the wall was going to fall to this ascent and I felt the pressure instantly release. Now my focus turned to fun. Ben was jazzed and got chatty once he reached the belay.

Pitch 5
It was time to jam now it was 3:30 and Finlay made high enough on the wall to be in the sun. Moral was getting much better. The climbing let up and I streacthed out the last 200ft of 5.6 crack and block climbing pulling a final 5.8 move before the lines end.

Ben came up and we celebrated and I was warm for the first time since leaving my house. Much rejoicing. We scramble to the summit and topped out at 4:30pm. 7 hours from the car. Knowing darkness at 6:30 we waisted little time and jammed down the Spontaneity Arete raps
and deviated into the gully for the down scramble after the 5th raps. Grabbed the fixed lines and
out. Car at 6:30 beer by 7.

It was the first time Ben and I have climbed together. We had a great time and look forward to it again. The line is alpine dirty and will not need much cleaning to be classically fun. The simul-climbing we did in the beginning could be potently avoided and replaced with a much classier crack pitch to the left. This would yield 4 really nice 5.9 pitches in a row taking a central line up the face. Adventure climbing is a constant theme in the approach and stays with you all day!


Paul Revere II+ 5.9+ Pitches: 5 (5 new)
Pitch style: free
Date/Time: Oct 22, 2006: 8 ½ hrs total car-to-car
Trad anchors: one KB (still remains)
Rack: Cams: 0.3”-4”
Doubles sizes: 0.5-3”
Triples sizes: .75” and 1.0”
Nuts: Single set
A few with slings
1X 60M Rope

Paul Revere (January 1, 1735 – May 10, 1818) was an American silversmith and patriot in the American Revolution. Because he was immortalized after his death for his role as a messenger in the battles of Lexington and Concord, Revere's name and his "Midnight Ride" are well-known in the United States as a patriotic symbol. Revere later served as an officer in one of the most disastrous campaigns of the American Revolutionary War, a role for which he was later exonerated. After the war, he was early to recognize the potential for large-scale manufacturing of metal goods and is considered by some historians to be the prototype of the American industrialist. Later he would help write one of the Beasty Boys most renown tracks.

Twin Sisters Haute Route: North Cascades

Twin Sister Haute Route, Grade V, 4th class, snow/ice 60 degree ascent, 45 degree ski descent. Possibly the first recorded ski traverse of the Twin Sister Range, North Cascade Mountains,
by Mark Allen, Greg Balco, Paul Kimbrough, and Chris Simmons. May 12, 13, and 14, 2006.

post by Chris Simmons

This trip was inspired by a previous climbing trip to the North Twin Sister Peak in February 2005. In the fall of 2005, I started to trace out a possible traverse route on topographical mapping software. During the 2006 winter, I found three other excellent skiers who were foolish enough to say yes; Paul, Greg, and Mark.

Mark and I met a month before the trip to look over the route and peer at a series of photos provided by John Scurlock. The route looked possible. The whole team met again in two weeks before the trip to look over the route, John’s photos, and discuss gear requirements.

We met Thursday night at my house to pack and make some final food purchases at the grocery store. Early Friday morning we cached Greg’s car at the end of the road for the North and South Twin Sister Peak climbs, and my girlfriend dropped us off at the other end near Hamilton. The access information is described below.

Friday, 12 May 2006, Day One:
We didn’t start where we originally intended and we needed to get a view of the range to get our bearings. Low clouds and snow showers kept us guessing until a lucky break in the weather while crossing an “artificial alpine zone” provided us with the view we needed. An hour and a half of skinning gained us the spine of the range immediately below the southernmost named summit, Step Sister Peak. We followed the ridge north, requiring a final boot pack to the summit, earning our first descent of the trip, the North Face of Last Sister Peak. We crossed the ridge to the east again and traversed the glacier on the east aspect of Nancy Peak, crossed a cleaver nick-named the Southern Divide and gained the glacier below the east aspect of Barbara Peak, which we provisionally named the Ripple Glacier. We climbed and skied in a zigzag pattern across the Ripple and Trisolace Glaciers until we reached the Saddle Slabs and Twin Crests where we made camp for the night.

Saturday, 13 May 2006, Day Two:
We got an early start and skied down the eastern slopes of Twin Crests and the Twin Crests Glacier before climbing back up to camp, shouldering our packs, and crossing the Saddle to the west side of the range. We dropped packs again in the bowl underneath the South Face of Little Sister Peak where Mark skied the proudest line of the trip, climbing and descending up the South Face Couloir. We hiked up to the summit ridge of Cinderella and skied the North Face, continuing down the Greater Green Creek Glacier before heading back up to the Little Sister-Cinderella Col and continuing north along the west side of the range linking together the little glaciers and cirques on the west slopes of Little Sister, Hayden, and Skookum Peaks, before finally hitting the ridge wall blocking our access to the Sisters Glacier at 4pm.

This proved to be the crux of the trip. Difficult 4th class and steep snow with heavy packs and skis required us to rope up. We also discovered our first mistake – Mark’s 9mm rope turned out to be 20 meters long, not matching up well with Greg’s 8mm 30-meter rando line. With only one thin rack for both teams, I lead the first short pitch without a pack, belayed everyone up, and then rapped down and re-climbed the pitch with my pack on a top rope while Mark lead a second shorter 20 meter pitch to the snowfield. Since Mark and Paul had the shorter rope, they lead the way as we simul-climbed the following 100+ meters of steep snow to the ridge top. We gained the ridge with perhaps a half-hour of light left.

John’s photos and the map show the Sisters Glacier clearly reaching the ridge top at the lowest notch immediately south of South Twin Sister. Instead we were looking down at 100 meters of rappelling. The ridge terrain was protected by numerous gendarmes, so we opted to rap off the ridge top where we were freezing in the wind, and finding our way down. We had to pull head-lamps out after the first 20 meter rappel to a horn. From there, we tied the two ropes together for a single strand, 40 meter rappel, which Mark down-climbed. Being his idea, and not realizing I was waiting for him to offer “Rock-Paper-Scissors”, he took my silence as refusal and offered to do it himself. Thank God. We were all pretty hammered at this point, and I was not happy.

Another single strand, 50 meter rappel over a blank, verglassed rock wall reached the glacier. We left the rope to collect the next day and stumbled down to the flats of the glacier finally setting up camp at 2:30am. When we finished dinner and hot drinks, we were all nodding off over our bowls and the sky was beginning to brighten.

Sunday, 14 May 2006, Day Three:
We were forced up at 9:30am by the bright light and heat of the day. A hard discussion over breakfast reached an agreement to forego an attempt to retrieve the ropes. As it turns out, the 8mm rappel line was rubbing over two rock edges, and neither Mark nor I were willing to risk jugging back up the line with a Tibloc and Reverso. We looked around to see if there was an easier way to climb up and traverse over using the hanging end of the 9mm strand to belay with, but saw nothing. The rope is still there and both of us expect to return later this year to retrieve it.

At 11pm we skinned and climbed up to the notch we had hoped to reach the day before and discovered why we had missed it. A full 40 meter pitch of 5th class chimney would have been required to reach the notch from the west side. This would not be possible for this team or with our packs. Our curiosity satisfied, we skied a couple of laps on the Sisters Glacier before descending below the North Ridge of South Twin Sister Peak and traversed across the Sisters Glacier to the North Ridge of North Twin. Once again, our intended notch looked good from our side on the east, but was cliffed out on the west. We continued lower down the ridge to the next notch which did prove passable. However, we ended up 1000’ below our intended route and a final skin gained us the bench below the North Face of North Twin Sister. A final descent through mashed-potato snow lead to a clear cut and road beneath the West Ridge where we were forced to take our skis off at 3800 feet. The final 5 miles of hiking in our boots finally ended when we crossed the welded steel of the Middle Fork Nooksack Bridge, and walked over to Greg’s car. It was over.

Conclusions and Lessons Learned:
There are two ways to access the Sisters Glacier which must be reached in order to finish the traverse. We don’t recommend following our route over Mirage Peak. The first possible route is to cross the Greater Green Creek Glacier to the east of Hayden and Skookum Peaks and climb a steep snow couloir that leads directly to the Sisters Glacier. Another possibility is to climb the South Face of South Twin Sister and descend the North Face.

A 60m rope would be ideal. Two 60 meter ropes are necessary if you choose to follow our line.
A speed traverse would probably work best from North to South, because one could descend the Sisters Glacier Couloir to the Green Creek Glacier instead.
We originally had hoped to climb and ski the North Face of South Twin and then ascend the South Gully of North Twin to ski the North Face. Saturday’s climbing over the ridge, our lack of sleep, and the incredible heat that hit us on Sunday put a stop to any of our ideas.

We gave a number of provisional names to a number of features to make conversations easier:
Nancy Glacier – located in the east bowl of Nancy Peak
Southern Divide – the cleaver that forms where the NE Ridge of Nancy and the SE Ridge of Barbara Peaks merge and separate the Nancy and Ripple Glaciers
Ripple Glacier – located in the east bowl of Barbara Peak
Trisolace Glacier – located in the three basins NE of Trisolace Peak
Twin Crests Basin – located NE of the Twin Crests and Saddle Slabs
Little Sister Cirque – located in the west bowl of Little Sister Peak
Hayden Cirque – located in the west bowl of Hayden Peak
Moraine Cirque – located in the north bowl of Skookum Peak
Northern Divide – the great headwall between Skookum and South Twin Sister that separate the Green Creek and Sister Glaciers
Mirage Peak – the 200-foot tall summit of the South Ridge of South Twin, which we climbed up and over at its highest point
Twin Glacier – located in the bowl on the west side of the ridge separating the North and South Twins
North Twin Glacier – located in the basin NE of North Twin

We traveled 30 hours in three days, covered 21 miles, gained 12,000 feet, descended 14,000 feet, skied every single permanent snowfield/ice field/glacier except for the Twin Glacier according to the USGS topo and made significant descents from the North Faces of Last Sister, South Twin Crest, and Cinderella; and the South Face of Little Sister.

Typical backcountry ski and avalanche equipment. Each member carried a transceiver, shovel and probe. Greg was on tele-gear.
Ski crampons
1 Megamid tent
2 pocket rocket stoves with four canisters, two pots, and one tea pot
ice hammer
1 picket
rack: 6 knifeblades, stoppers #4-#10, #0.75-#1-#2 cams, #10 hex, 2 ice screws, 4 shoulder length slings with biners, two double length slings with biners
ropes: 9mm, 20 meters & 8mm, 30 meters
Each: helmet, harness, crampons, ice axe, belay device, three locking carabiners, one cordellete

The Upper South Fork of the Nooksack River is closed by the Forest Service as Critical Elk Habitat from 1 November to 1 July. This effectively eliminates accessing the ridge from Baker Lake. The logging services follow suit on their private land upstream from Hadley Creek.
I convinced the Forester at Sierra Cascade Industries that this trip was part of my studies in Adventure Recreation, contributing directly to my degree and my professor vouched for my academics. We received permission to be dropped off via the roads up Hadley Creek, provided that we were careful around and didn’t interfere with logging operations that were in progress. Crown Pacific sold their land holdings to three different logging companies and they have an agreement to minimize non-business access as much as possible to minimize interference. I don’t expect to get this permission again.
Next time I plan to use our back-up plan, which is to drive as close as possible to the summit of Mount Josephine, hike up and over, drop down to the South Fork and climb back out to Bear Lake. This route is only 3.8 miles as the crow flies, but 9.5 miles of logging roads. The good news is that if you wait for the snow line to be at or below 2000 feet, this could be accomplished entirely on skis. Otherwise, bring a pair of shoes.

Special Thanks To:
Our friends and families who encouraged us, wished us luck, and thought about us while we were out there
John Scurlock for the aerial photography
Sierra Cascade Industries for access into the South Fork Nooksack valley.
Annie at WWU’s Huxley Map Library for the time and hard work making my taped together creation, digitizing it, and reprinting it into a great map.
Patsy for the driving and drop-off.

I’ve tried to keep this as factually as possible. The crazy and funny stories that come with this trip should be heard with a beer.

Chris Simmons