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Routes in Cutthroat Peak

Cauthorn-Wilson T WI4+
Complete South Buttress T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
North Ridge T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
South Buttress T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
West Ridge T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
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Type: Trad, Alpine, 850 ft, 12 pitches, Grade III
FA: Fred Beckey and Donald Gordon, 1958
Page Views: 4,067 total · 80/month
Shared By: Joe Manning on Aug 7, 2014 with updates from Kyle Tarry
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

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Description

This face, clearly visible from the road, is climbed via wandering easy rock climbing broken up by steeper sections up to 5.8. Route finding generally follows the path of least resistance and variations are possible. Expect both solid rock and sections of loose blocks and kitty litter.

Pitched climbing generally starts at the steep section below the top of the leftmost gully.  Pitch count and breakdown varies, but one obvious way to break down the route is as follows (note: the Supertopo guide shows this as quite a few more pitches, linking pitches as per below will make the easy sections of this route go much faster).

1: Up gully to ridge crest, left on ridge, belay at tree.
2: Up ridge crest, staying right of steep faces, then turn left up obvious ramp to huge ledge.
3: Either continue up the blocky crest, or traverse ledge left and go up the 4th-low 5th gully/ramp.  Turn left at next large ridge and belay at tree.
4: Right and up through small notch, then climb up awkward slabby section to a small ledge system with big exposure to the right.  Belay at base of chimney right before ledge ends at the SE face.
5: Climb chimney or face, which soon eases off to a sandy ramp/gully scramble under a huge chockstone.  Crawl under chockstone, then boulder on top and belay on great ledge right above chockstone.  This is a good feature to confirm you're on route.
6: 2nd hardest pitch.  Traverse ledges right from belay, and climb cracks and flakes up.  Lots of options here, including a squeeze chimney and some awesome crack and flake climbing.  At the top of large flakes and blocks, traverse up and left to a belay tree, or belay on gear above the blocks.
7: Up and left from the belay, climb a couple fun short steps with laybacking and jamming to a belay stance in a small notch with trees below the crux pitch.
8: Crux pitch.  Climb the ramp leading to the wide chimney/stembox feature (limited protection).  Stem up, then step right to the face with great hand cracks.  Climb up, then make an awkward move back left to top out into the sandy gully.  Belay from tree.
(Carry rope up sandy gully between false summits to obvious notch)
9: Downclimb the "5.7+" boulder problem into the notch.
(Walk left down loose gully.  Be careful not to knock rocks down, as parties coming from the West Ridge may be below you.  A belay may be warranted).
10: Climb easy face to enter next gully (limited protection).  Climb up and left to achieve summit ridge, climb short offwidth section).
11: Climb/scramble along ridge to summit.

Location

Park at a long pullout on the north side of the highway 1.5 miles west of Washington Pass.  The trail leaves from the east end of this long pullout and drops down into the woods.  Follow the trail across the creek and up into the large meadow below Cutthroat peak.  After climbing the steeper section of trail and arriving in the boulder field below the south buttress, bear right and aim for the leftmost of the large gullies which come down from the south buttress/ridge.  Climb this gully (a few unexposed 5th class steps) until about 100 ft from the top, where it forks and gets steeper.  Most parties will rope up here and begin on the first pitch, climbing the left side of the gully to the ridge crest.

Protection

Lots of single and double length runners, alpine rack.

Photos

John Van Sickle
Seattle, WA
 
John Van Sickle   Seattle, WA
 
There is a poor trail that starts near the east end of the pullout. The real/better trail begins a couple of hundred feet west of there where the lower meadow is visible through a gap in the trees. As of September 2015 it was marked with a cairn and a couple of long sticks. Sep 14, 2015
Mike A. Lewis
Estes Park, CO
  5.8
Mike A. Lewis   Estes Park, CO
  5.8
Descent: From the summit, look NW across the summit plateau and you will see some obvious rappel chains. From these chains, rap (80'?) NW through some boulders, over a short vertical face to a second set of chains. From here, rap 80' to a grassy, exposed ledge. There are only 2 raps to this ledge - Ian's book shows 3. Traverse W along this grassy ledge to the top of a small ridge - from the top of the 2nd rap, you can see two ridge that go west - a smaller one that is closer, and the long, thin one that is just below the smaller one. So, traverse along the top of the smaller one, then make a short scramble down to the second one - which is the West Ridge of Cutthroat. Traverse along the top of this ridge for a ways. As the ridge begins to drop toward the col far below, you will see some small sandy trails/paths down to your left/south. Take this little trail about 30' and you should be at the rap anchors. These anchors face West, so you can't see them until you really get close. You will be rappelling toward and into the obvious right facing large, shaded dihedral that is down and left(W-SW) from the ridge.

Key Point - Rap 60' or so W along a sloping ramp and the next set of anchors are just over the edge of the end of the ramp. Do not rap straight down with gravity! 2nd Rap - Angle skiers right toward the dihedral for 85-90'. Finally, Rap another 90' to the ledge at the bottom of the dihedral.

The best way to get down from here is follow the climbers trail skier's left and back to the right toward a ridge that is skier's right of the main gully below the rappels. There are some cairns to aim for helping you get across the main gully and onto the ridge. Fun Scree skiing! Sep 28, 2015
Rafe
  5.8
Rafe  
  5.8
Descent of the west ridge is very straight forward, even more so if you have the WA Pass guidebook west ridge topo. While being straight forward, it is also fairly unsavory. Having not climbed every peak in WA Pass I can't say for sure, but I'd venture to say it has one of the least pleasant descents in the area. A rappel descent of the route itself would certainly be worse though, even though it appears that rap slings are in place enough to make one. Aug 21, 2016
This climb was great. Car to car it was 10.5 hours. The left gully (entrance to climb) was a low 5th/ high 4th class scramble and we finally roped up about 350 feet up. After that it was pitch after pitch of fun, easy-moderate alpine route finding. The crux pitch, last pitch, was a 5.4 gully, but the gully stem moves are not 5.4. We opted for better protection with a harder routes so we chose to exit the gully and find a 5.7 finger crack with a 5.8 exit move. Anchors are 10 ft up and right of top of gully.

We decided to rappel the route despite other comments and research that stated it would be a bad idea. It is completely doable, and quite honestly, really fun to rappel the route. We did it with a single 60m rope with a couple of down climbs to get to the next rappel station. We replaced/redid nearly all 15 rappel anchors, so the anchors should be much better. If we had not replaced anchors, we could have been car to car in closer to 9 hours. Sep 3, 2017
I climbed this route 25 years ago. At the time, we didn't think it warranted an alpine grade of III, but it it was a fun route with short lived difficulties and straightforward route finding. From what I remember, all of the steep parts were on good rock with good pro available. We rapped the route, and had no problems, but we also had twin ropes so could do 50m rappels. Dec 25, 2017
Nick Sweeney
Spokane, WA
  5.8
Nick Sweeney   Spokane, WA
  5.8
We descended the South Buttress using mostly existing anchors with material in good shape. We had to build our first rap anchor - maybe the normal anchor is still buried in snow. While this descent option is totally doable and straightforward, I'll descend the West Ridge next time. UPDATE: Recently climbed this peak again and descended the West Ridge, which is the way to go. Descending the South Buttress was much more work than the straightforward West Ridge descent, and you get to do some incredibly exposed ridge climbing as you head down the West Ridge. Jun 18, 2018
Kyle Tarry
Portland, OR
 
Kyle Tarry   Portland, OR
 
Fun route. Most of the pitches are pretty easy with a few short cruxes. Some significant 3rd class and sandy walking; worth dealing with for the awesome alpine ambiance and more committing vibe than stuff across the road with similar grades, in my opinion at least.

The descent is non-trivial. We did 3 raps (2 from the bolts, 1 more from a 3rd station) which got us down to more comfortable and less exposed ledges at the start of the West Ridge. We simuled the west ridge with a terrain belay, easy scrambling here but huuuuge exposure. 3 more raps right before the big corner system gets you to the ground, and some interminable scree walking. Sep 11, 2018

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