Type: Trad, Alpine, 2200 ft, 21 pitches, Grade V
FA: FA: Alan Kearney, Bobby Knight (1980) FFA: Bryan Burdo, Yann Merrand (1985)
Page Views: 1,247 total · 62/month
Shared By: Eric Bluemn on Apr 16, 2017
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

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Remote, committing, stellar rock, commanding exposure, and an epic approach. This route has everything you could ask from a Cascadian classic and is my favorite in the range.

Approach: From the saddle, descend down steep scree trending skier’s right. You’ll cross several gullies and eventually reach the glacier that extends out of the couloir leading to the regular north buttress route. On the right of the glacier extends the toe of the direct north buttress. Continue up the glacier to the climber’s left of the buttress search for slabs that lead into a corner system heading up the buttress. Crampons and ice axe helpful to reach the slabs. 60-90’ approach from col.

Pitch 1-2: lead right up the slabs trending left into a broken slabby wall with multiple cracks. Climb cracks at 5.8 to reach recessed belay at the base of another crack/corner system.
Pitch 3: climb the crack to a roof (5.10-) – move through the roof and up to a small ledge belay.
Pitch 4: Continue up the corner to the base of a chimney system
Pitch 5: move through the chimney and belay above (can be linked with p4 but potential for bad rope drag)
Pitch 6: Traverse left past loose blocks (sketchy) and then back up right through thin cracks with sparse protection. Belay when good gear found and ledges seen on climber’s right.
Pitch 7: Traverse back right on a series of ledge systems until its possible to climb up on easy terrain.
Pitch 8: climb directly up on easy ground with sparse pro
Pitch 9-10: Climb up the ridge towards the snowpack, rock can be wet due to snowmelt. Simulclimb if comfortable.
Pitch 11-12: Ascend the face behind the snowpack via the lefthand crack to another large ledge. Walk left on a ramp system to join with the Beckey North Buttress route.
Pitch 13: Climb the strenuous left-facing corner/crack to another ledge on the buttress crest
Pitch 14-15: Two pitches up the ridge crest leads to the base of the offwidth.
Pitch 16a: Climb the offwidth at 5.10- (awkward with pack) past some fixed gear
Pitch 16b: Climb the start of the OW, then traverse right around the corner to easier ground (5.8) and belay at the top of the OW
Pitch 17: Continue up the buttress crest at 5.9
Pitch 18: Climb a long series of thin cracks to a small stance at 5.10-
Pitch 19-21: Continue up the buttress on easier ground ending on the ridgeline

From ridge, leave your rack and rope and head climbers left towards the summit pyramid. Solo easy ground (4th-easy 5th class) up the middle of the formation trending right until you reach the ridge that leads left to the summit.

Descent: Reverse your path down to the gear left at the top of the route. Head down snow slopes and navigate through several cliff bands to reach the basin beneath the saddle/camp.

Trip report 8/2016


North side of Bear Mountain, Chilliwack range. See approach beta in Bear Mountain main page.


Full rack with cams to BD #4 (helpful on lower crux) with many slings. We brought doubles of mid-range cams. Route is a walk-off so single rope is acceptable. Approach to the base of the climb involves a short section of steep neve; crampons recommended and lightweight ice axe helpful but not necessary (as of 8/2016 - may be different depending on snowpack).
Nick Sweeney
Spokane, WA
Nick Sweeney   Spokane, WA
Thanks for the good page on this route. Proud line for sure Apr 17, 2017
Alex Weber  
My partner Dan and I tried this climb last year (2016) and experienced 3 days of total terror: first day was bushwhacking through devil's club, alder, blow-down, thickets, wasp attacks (many), etc. until we got half-way up the ridge. Second day was nicer with blueberries and nicer hiking, but we went too high and were cliffed-out from getting to the saddle. At this point we knew we weren't going to climb, so we tried to make it back to our car. NOPE. We ended up trying to take the river back, only to experience salmon carcasses and almost-hypothermia. Third day we somehow made it back physically - but not mentally - intact.
This year (2017), we went in with a machete and trail tape and marked/cut out a trail all the way from the beginning to ALMOST Bear Camp. Good enough. Hope others find this useful. Trust me, it was harder without the tape.
I will upload a GPS file soon.
As for the route:
I found the description in the McLane book to be AWFUL, and more often than not a single pitch in that book is either 70 full meters or MORE.
We did the a 5.7 'chimney' pitch at the very beginning (instead of by-passing it via the snow), by traversing right into a small roof/chimney via a ramp on the left. Fun.
Later, we ended up doing a variation that headed out left around pitch 8 instead of traversing out right to easier ground. This variation was full-on and awesome. The first pitch was this corner system through a roof (sort-of). It involves some really cool 3D climbing. After that pitch is a scary but awesome climbing over sketchy rock into a great corner (hands to off-hands). No idea what the grades were. 5.9 or 5.10-.
From here you can then traverse right and up to the half-way ledge in a single simul-climb.
Also, we missed the hands/fist crack after the first 5.9 after the half-way ledge. We thought we were done with the 5.9s and so we headed up what we thought was a 5.6 crest. NOPE. Something harder, dirtier, and scarier. WHOOPS Aug 8, 2017
Eric Bluemn
Worcester, MA
Eric Bluemn   Worcester, MA  
Alex - your 2016 experience sounds about right. Props for going back with the machete and hacking out a trail for the masses. Hope it lasts a while. Sounds like you got the full-on adventure for both trips. Aug 9, 2017
Alex Weber  
gpx data:

We ran out of trail tape around after the last alder to Bear Creek (~1km)
So if anyone wants to cut and tape that section, others would love you for it.
Hope this gps info helps people avoid what we experienced in 2016 :S

As for gear: we brought doubles from 0.3 to 3". We did the off-width and found we didn't need anything large (there are cracks inside that take small/medium gear) Aug 10, 2017
Jenny Abegg
Bend, OR
Jenny Abegg   Bend, OR
This route is CLASSIC! About as North Cascades as it gets. The lack of beta is part of the fun, but here's a few more bread crumbs to help you connect the dots for your adventure. :)

The Mountain Project description here is about as good as we found. We had a few other descriptions (including route overlays) with us that all seemed to muddy the waters around the mid-route snow patch. It seems to be the case that there are TWO ledges that come into the route from the lefthand gully about mid-way up the complete DNB - one at the obvious large snow patch, the other about 70m higher. As the MP description says, pitches 11-12 ascend the face behind the snow patch. It's steep and has a couple 5.10 sections. It's a LONG pitch - one could break it up after ~30m and build an anchor next to an old red webbing sling, or it can be done with a 70m rope or a 60m with a bit of totally doable simulclimbing. Once at the next (smaller) ledge 70m above the snow patch, walk left on the ledge ~10m to find the very obvious 5.9 hand-crack corner.

Also noteworthy: the rock quality on the upper pitches is much better than that of the lower. The DNB is incredible but be prepared for steep 5.9/5.10 climbing with suspect rock in spots. Also, we brought crampons but no ice axes and found that completely sufficient.

As for the approach, which is far more than half of the journey: we walked in following Alex and Dan's flagging, and found it SO SO SO helpful. You guys are awesome! That said, the approach to Bear Camp still took us 6 hours (also hanging flagging and hacking away with a machete to help clear the trail more), and we did lose the trail towards the end (just in time for the patch of alders). The climb up to the col from Bear Camp isn't insignificant either in terms of route finding. Try to keep tabs of the flagging there too. All that said, we chose to walk the river out on the way back (August 16 on a pretty moderate year for snowpack) and found it quite delightful. It took us less than 4 hours from Bear Camp back to our car. A few logjams to bypass, a couple times the river came up to our waists, but most of the time we were ankle deep or walking on rock bars, looking into clear blue pools filled with spawning salmon. Highly, highly recommended. Aug 16, 2018