Type: Trad, 1050 ft, 9 pitches, Grade III
FA: John Lindstrom and Gene Hebert, July 25, 1959
Page Views: 2,831 total · 53/month
Shared By: Richard Denker on Sep 16, 2014
Admins: Nate Ball, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

4 Opinions

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Maybe the best climb on Mt Washington. For the High Cascade in Oregon this route has excellent rock, which is poor by the Sierras and North Cascade standards.

The climb can be divided into four distant parts.
Part 1: About 70m of fun, clean slab with many cracks for protection. The slabs begin on the south side of the ridge about 50 feet from the foot of the ridge. The slabs end on top of the ridge at two dead snags.
Part 2: A fun easy 3rd and easy 5th class “walk” along a narrow ridge for about three rope lengths. This part of the climb ends on a ledge with a large dead snag on the right side.
Part 3: A short 30m or so pitch up the headwall. The large dead snag makes for a scary 5.5 rock-tree climb of the headwall. However you may find other routes off the ledge. Belay at any convent spot. This pitch is the crux of the climb.
Part 4: Easy climbing for three to four rope lengths leads to the summit. This portion of the climb contains loose rock and is basically scrambling from one broke ledge to another. There are many options and routes, which can be taken. (I have climbed this route at least 6 times and have never done this part of the climb the same twice.) With very careful route finding you can avoid most if not all of the loose rock. BE FOREWARNED: with bad luck and errors in route finding it is quite possible to only experience loose rock.


Approach: Drive to Big Lake, just before Big Lake turn east (left) on FS 811. Follow this rough road for about 2.5 miles beyond the PCT crossing to Hortense Lake. Along the way the road will become FS 500. Find a trail which heads south. A forest fire has made finding and following the trail difficult. The coordinates of the trailhead is 44°22.360' 121°48.604'. Take this trail south for about 2 miles to the usually dry Cache Creek. Leave the trail here or stay on it for another 0.5 miles or so. Either way, leave the trail; travel uphill to the southwest, minimizing hiking up and over the East Ridge. If you follow Cache Creek up you will end up on the north side of the East Ridge while the climb is on the south side. Once beneath the start of the climb there is one more obstacle – a steep and tiring scree slope. Coordinates of the base of the climb is 44°19.832' 121°50.202'. The approach should take about 3 to 4 hours.

Descent: From the summit head north for about 100 feet to a chimney, down climb the chimney and continue for another 250 feet or so to the top of a single rope rap to a large notch. (There may be single rope rappel stations from the summit to the notch.) From the notch there are two options. If daylight is not an issue, follow the North Ridge approach path along the top of the North Ridge north until it is possible to hike off to the east and continue cross-country to Hortense Lake. If daylight is a concern drop down the scree slope to the west until you reach the PCT. Follow it north to FS 881 or if a car shuttle, head to Patjens Lakes trailhead at Big Lake.


Small rack, one set Camalot .5 to 2 (#3 optional), and a set of medium stoppers will suffice for most climbers. 70m rope preferred, 50 or 60m ropes will work, but will increase the number of belays.
Richard Denker
Portland OR
Richard Denker   Portland OR
Outside the inconvenience of the east side approach this is a fun climb and if you only do one climb on this mountain, this is the one. I have done about half of the eighteen or so routes on Mt Washington, and this one is my favorite. The North Ridge route is not very challenging and in reality not much fun, but it provides the way off the mountain. The West Face is consider Mt Washington classic, but unless you are comfortable with climbing 5.6 rotten rock it is not for you. Many people have broken their ankles on that climb. West Ridge is maybe a more elegant route then the Southeast Spur, but it lacks the varying climbing that the SE Spur has. South Face Dihedral contains the best pitch on the mountain, but after that it is a long scramble. The East Buttress is thought be be the other Mt Washington classic, but the first 200 feet of extremely bad rock detracts from the elegance of that route. The other routes on the mountain are not all that great. Sep 16, 2014
eugene, or
iryna   eugene, or
My friend and I climbed it in June on a perfect sunny day. The route is not difficult, the most time consuming part was navigation. Approach took 4 hours although can be easily done faster if you know where you need to go. We climbed it in 7 pitches with a 70 m rope, running it out most of the time to avoid rope drag. I didn't see many places for good nut placements, so I would advise to bring more cams (one small cam, double .5, .75, 1, one 2). It took us 8 hours, much longer than we expected. We spent a lot of time looking for more or less solid rock and then gave up. The start of the climb is super fun, but the finish is a bit scary. There is A LOT of loose rock on this route. The worst pitches are after the headwall where 90% of the rock you touch moves. Make sure to find safe belay stations where your belayer can be protected from rockfall. The crux of the route is definitely on headwall, the snag is very close to the rock which makes it difficult to climb without getting stuck; this pitch is also most vertical, make sure you are comfortable on 5.6 with a backpack. Although it's regarded as one of the best climbs in Oregon Cascades, the rock quality is still poor, so if you decide to climb it you should be comfortable with loose rock. The climbing is not difficult, this would be a good route to simulclimb to save time. We descended via the standard route and hiked on PCT to 811, it was dark by the time we were off the mountain. This was a great adventure and I'm happy we decided to climb this route and didnt hike the standard way up, but it was pretty scary at times since the route is pretty committing, it's very remote and difficult to bail from. It also takes some extra time to figure out where you can climb safely. Dont take it lightly. Jun 7, 2015