West Ridge of Cutthroat Peak


Feb 15, 2013
Off the success on Mix-Up, we had 2 days before friends were to come in. The forecast was marginal and our desire strong for more technical climbing in the alpine zone. When the weather is bad in the Cascade's, you migrate east, over the crest to the rain shadow. We had Black Peak in mind, with its 6 pitches of 5th class climbing on a knife edged ridge. We hiked into a high camp and watched the clouds swirl about our peak. We were also concerned about the length of the coming day.

When we awoke to more cloud, the idea was hatched. Hike out and travel further east, in search of stable weather. With this choice made, we hiked and drove, packed and hiked again, approaching the west ridge of Cutthroat Peak, near Washington Pass with a Noon start. We would use almost of the 9 hours of daylight left.

Another climbing package of great variety, we made a few difficult stream crossings and then hiked up through a long meadows of wildflowers. Beyond the meadows, the mountain steepens and the rock becomes loose, when it hasn't been reduced to sand. Up three steps, slide down two and try not to slide off that drop you just skirted. After great effort and 4 hours, we arrived at the ridge base

Jenny once again took the sharp end and ran two mid 5th class pitches up to near the ridge, climbing in fine form. I took the next and easy pitch to the ridge proper. At this point, I let her lead, as we put the rope away for the time being. I knew what was ahead and I smiled as the ridge narrowed...and narrowed....and narrowed further, as Jenny reacted with excitement to the new and tenuous positions. Just as the ridge becomes a cliff, a narrow ledge traverses the north side of the peak, its alignment with our purposes even more of a surprise.

The ledge ends on the north ridge and one moderate pitch put us on the summit, in the early evening. Four rappels, the ledge and the knife edge navigated on the way down. Then to the steep sand, which so exhausting and dangerous on the way up, was easily "skied" down now. We had snatched a mountain out of the cloudy sky and were thrilled. Down the hill we went for dinner and to hook up with friends joining the trip.

Tiger Lily?

Dangerous Choss

That way?

Narrow ledge

Knife Edge


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