All Locations > Washington > Northwest Region > North Cascades > Washington Pass > Cutthroat Lake Crags
Cutthroat Wall Rock Climbing
|GPS:||48.546, -120.648 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
|Page Views:||372 total · 49/month|
|Shared By:||slim on Aug 6, 2017|
|Admins:||Scott Coldiron, Nate Ball, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick|
DescriptionCutthroat Wall is a large, West/Northwest facing granite buttress that is detailed in Blake Herrington's excellent "Cascades Rock". The layout of the rock is such that it has a somewhat 'climb anywhere' feel to it, yet there are numerous roofs and other features that require a bit of routefinding work. Overall, when you take into consideration the approach, climbing, and descent it provides a pretty good single day adventure.
While the moderate grades may be attractive, there are additional considerations that may not make these routes 'date routes'...
Getting ThereI'm not going to sugar coat it here. The approach and descent, while fairly short, are a bit rugged... We did the approach/return trip 4 times and completely different each time. I will describe the best (ie least worst...) approach below. No matter which way you go you will see some cairns. Pay no mind to these as they are just memorials to other folks who were just as lost as you are.
APPROACH: From the parking lot, walk a short ways past the kiosk on a wide dirt trail. In a 100 feet or so, there is a left branching trail at a large wooden trough structure. Take this left and follow it for about a 1/4 mile until you see a well marked (large cairns) trail that cuts into the forest on the left. Take this left and head in there.
The trail starts off good and quickly falls apart into 'moderate' bushwhacking that basically links generally more open (or perhaps less closed...) areas. Try to keep trending right - the buttress you are ultimately aiming for is at the right side of the large wall. If you are lucky you will run into a somewhat open wooded area that seems like it was burnt out. This will lead to the lower talus field, and then another more open wooded area. A bit more slide alder will then lead to the upper talus slope that makes it's way to the buttress. Along the way, there is a steep slabby creek that will be a couple hundred yards to your right - if you get to this you are a bit too far right.
The base of the buttress has a set of really cool giant step features. This is the general area of the two existing routes that I am familiar with.
The Cascades Rock book says the uphill bushwhack will take around 45 minutes, which is probably a wee bit optimistic. From the car it is between 1.5 and 2 miles, depending on your path.
DESCENT: It is pretty key to nail the descent, or it can suck.
From the topout of the routes there is a minor notch that separates the westernmost buttress from the higher central buttress. At this notch there is a slung horn/tree. A single rope rap (over a chockstone tunnel, which is a potential snag on the rope pull) leads to a dirty ramp with a big cave.
THIS IS WHERE IT PAYS TO STAY ON TRACK WITH THE DESCENT (unlike i did when i botched the descent and dealt with a lot of crappy loose gully action).
From the base of the rappel, look down/left for an upward trending gully or ledge system on skiier's left. It may be a bit inobvious, as it looks more straight forward to go straight down the gulley. Instead, take the skiier's left gulley/ledge system and ascend a bit on 3rd class with a few cairns. It will curl clockwise and traverse around the head of another gulley. Keep traversing, head through some trees, and you should intersect a grassy low angle gully that will wind down into the main basin. It should spit you out pretty even with the start of the route, so traverse hard skiier's right to get back to your stuff.
IF FOR SOME REASON YOU MISSED THE UPWARD GULLEY/LEDGE SYSTEM, this is what you can expect below:
Another very short rappel off a slung evergreen bush/tree drops you into the upper part of the gully. The scramble down the gully starts not-too-bad, but quickly becomes steep, exposed, and loose. It is very loose and any rock you disturb will fling itself down - be really careful here.
When the gully begins to merge with another gully on skiier's left, cut down and across both of them (semi-exposed, loose). There is a tree with a sling near the junction of the two gullies that can help.
When you get to the skiier's left side of the far gully, carefully make your way down. We stayed way left and used the trees as terrain fencing against exposure, as well as to stay out of the bowling alley. There are numerous trees with slings to facilitate this. Be careful with the rope as there is a constant threat of creating rockfall.
After about 600 to 800 vertical feet of gully surfing you should drop down onto some lightly vegetated slopes. An easy traverse around the buttress will return you to the start of the routes.
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