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Routes in Morning Star Peak

Mile High Club T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
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Type: Trad, Alpine, 700 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: Darin Berdinka and Rad Roberts
Page Views: 4,338 total · 252/month
Shared By: Nick Drake on Mar 15, 2017
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

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Yet another great route in the Vesper Peak area, it's impossible not to stop and stare at this buttress when you're coming back from Vesper. Great aesthetic position and fun movement. Technically it is not on Morning Start Peak, but slightly south. It sits at exactly one mile high.

Note that while the route is fully bolted this is still an alpine climb. As such there are some ledgey portions, while being very well bolted I would not say this is a good area to push the grade for the leader or follower. Also as the ascent and rap route share anchors please be respectful to other parties and have your multi pitch skills dialed. If coming early in the season be prepared to inspect for any loose rocks and bolts due to freeze/thaws over the winter.

There is a nice register at the summit, please respect the FA wishes and don't post photos of it online.

Pitch 1: Hero climbing up and left on steep jugs leads to a beautiful face and arête. 115 feet, 5.10a.

Pitch 2: Continue up the featured face to a belay on the crest. 70 feet, 5.9.

Pitch 3: Cross a large ledge and ascend a 30 foot headwall with some cracks and good holds. Easier climbing leads to the base of the next headwall. Note that an intermediate anchor about 15 feet right of the climbing line and 10 feet above the lip of the lower headwall is used on the descent. 150 feet, 5.9.

Pitch 4: Step right and climb a clean face to the base of a dihedral. 70 feet, 5.10a.

Pitch 5: *money pitch* Climb the stunning dihedral and exit up and right to an airy belay. 80 feet, 5.10a.

Pitch 6: Head up the lower arête, balance on top of a large flake, and climb a beautiful face to a spectacular arête. 115 feet, 5.10a.

Pitch 7: Make a tricky move or two on a vertical face, cross ledges to the final headwall, and follow a clean ramp to the summit. 100 feet, 5.8

Rappel the route. Keep the following in mind;
Avoid a pendulum on the Pitch 7 rap by lowering down to the large flake before walking left to the belay. Use the pitch 3 intermediate anchor (or you will have to pull the rope and make an unprotected scramble, clip the P2 anchor at your feet. You can't skip that intermediate station with a 70, doing this is NOT recommended).
The starting ledge is several hundred feet above the ground and rather exposed. Climbers might want to traverse back to the starting bolt before unroping. It's possible to pull the rope on the final rappel from that position.

Note that as you will rap the route this can jam up on weekends. If you arrive early be prepared to deal with other parties on your rap. If you arrive late maybe bring a rack and just go get on one of the fun routes at Vesper.

FA write up:…

Great write up from Steph Abegg with more photos:…

Arguments about bolts:…


Follow the Sunrise Mine trail approximately two and a half miles to the last major switchback (~4300 foot elevation) before the trail begins zig zagging up to Headlee Pass. Leave the trail and begin a surprisingly easy traverse northeast across talus toward the Mile High buttress. Cairns mark the way well enough. Pass just above a large flat-topped boulder near the first set of trees. Follow a natural passage through the small stand of trees to a second open talus field. Continue across open heather and talus, cross a strip of trees near a rocky bluff, and ascend to the obvious red gully right of the Mile High Buttress. A convenient seep just before the Mile High gully provides water through mid-season and for a few days after rain. Scramble up and left on rubble-strewn ledges to a lone fir tree. Pass the tree on a ledge to a single belay bolt at the beginning of the route.


Draws and a 70m rope. Some alpine draws are nice to cut back on drag.
Michael T.
Bothell, WA
Michael T.   Bothell, WA
Be careful on the first rappel, there is a sharp edge that the rope has to run over right after the anchor. It nicked our rope pretty good right in the middle, forcing us to chop it in half when we got back.

There was also a good bit of loose rock on route when we climbed it last June. We trundled a few blocks but left a lot, be careful pulling your ropes when there are parties below you. Other than all that it's a spectacular day of bolt clipping in an awesome position!

(There was a plastic bag of trashed ropes on the summit. Are those still there?) Jun 8, 2017
Nick Drake
Newcastle, WA
Nick Drake   Newcastle, WA
Ropes were gone from the summit and it seemed that the route had been cleaned pretty well (either intentional or just from traffic). Didn't pull anything down on the rappels or grab any loose blocks. I'm sure that given the alpine setting that loose rock early in the season will probably be the norm from freeze thaw cycles though. Jun 9, 2017
Topher Dabrowski
Portland, OR
Topher Dabrowski   Portland, OR
This route is best rapped with a single 70m due to the high likelihood of snagging the knot from tying two ropes together. If you end up bringing two ropes then you will only need them for rapping pitch 6 and pitch 1. Backpack the second rope for all other rappels and save yourself the trouble.

Note that as of July 2017 there are still plenty of loose blocks and chunks of rock around this route, especially on the upper pitches. If there is a party ahead of you the risk of getting hit is increased especially as they rappel. Jul 5, 2017
Topher Dabrowski
Portland, OR
Topher Dabrowski   Portland, OR
July 4th 2017 - Currently the road to the Sunrise Mine trailhead is CLOSED by the Forest Service. The road has a large culvert that has washed out partway up along a steep embankment. Check with the FS before heading up but last I heard they were threatening to ticket and tow cars ignoring the closure and parking at the trialhead. Jul 5, 2017
Note that on the approach you need to cross the river before leaving the forested trail. There is another approach trail that goes up the river basin (with large cairns) that is not the approach for Mile High Club.

In this satellite view of the trail you can see the faint outline of the current trail (in the upper left-hand quadrant) zigzagging up the hillside. It does not align with the GPS coordinates of the trail overlay shown on CalTopo and other maps we looked at. We bushwhacked along the red trail shown which is 90% thorns...

LINK: CalTopo Jul 7, 2017
Alex James
Ballard, WA
Alex James   Ballard, WA
One of the anchor bolts at the top of the second pitch is partially torn out of the wall. You can equalize the first bolt of the third pitch with the other anchor bolt with two double length slings, you can use a tree on the same ledge as an anchor, or you can use the rappel anchor just below the lip of the ledge. This doesn't affect the rap route as there aren't rap rings on this anchor. The rappel anchor is just below the lip of the ledge. Sep 17, 2017
Road is bumpy but passable, the former washout is now no longer closed. Approach hike currently involves crossing a snowfield, so poles or spikes are handy for this.
Regarding Alex's comment about the loose belay bolt at the beginning of the 3rd pitch, we just used the rappel anchor below the ledge and it worked fine. We did see another anchor bolt where the nut was spinning, it would have been nice to have a wrench to tighten it.
Note that some of the belay stances are fairly small, so you cannot really pass another party.
Beautiful views and enjoyable climb. Jun 18, 2018
Paul L
Portland, OR
Paul L   Portland, OR
Climbed July 4. Stellar route in an awesome location. All in all the rock quality is great with amazing friction. P5 & P6 are both stand outs with great climbing and position, but all the pitches have fun sections.
We tightened a couple loose anchor bolts on the way up.
From the top of P2, belay from the rap station, don't cross the ledge to what looks like a 2 bolt anchor, one of those bolts is partially ripped from the wall and unusable. P3 you could use almost entirely alpine draws to help with the rope drag. There is some easy terrain in the middle where you could skip a bolt to help as well.
On a breezy day consider saddlebags on the rap, there is plenty of potential for a rope to get hung up trying to toss from most of the rap stations if it blows around the arete or into one of the numerous rope-width slots.
We did have trouble locating the mid-station rap on P3, but were able to reach an old tree on the ledge with a 70m and then do a short scramble down to the top of P2 to rap. You can sling the tree to belay the first person down the 20ft or so of scrambling. Jul 7, 2018

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