Avg: 3 from 1 vote
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 8509 ft (2578 m), 3 pitches, Grade II|
|FA:||Fred Beckey, Helmy Beckey. June 21, 1941.|
|Page Views:||49 total · 13/month|
|Shared By:||emilio Taiveaho Pelaez on Jun 8, 2023|
|Admins:||Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Z Winters|
Southeast Spire (the summit of Hard Mox) is a veritable, classic piece of choss first climbed by the Beckey brothers, Fred and Helmy. As with any big North Cascades backcountry venture, the crux is getting to the climb, though I've heard approaching from Canada makes it easier (if you're into that kind of thing). In vol. 3 of his guide to the Cascades, Beckey writes "...the summit of the Southeast Spire is one of the most difficult to attain in the Cascade range." Tread carefully, it's not sandbagged but it is terrifically chossy. It might not be as harrowing as climbing Lemolo (AKA Hardest Mox), to which this peak is connected to by a ridge, but Southeast Mox is nonetheless a grim, beautiful backcountry climb and a worthy mountaineering feat.
Beckey writes that most of the climbing is "more intimidating than technically difficult; if a party finds the climbing above 5.5 they are probably off route," and this feels true. With some cerebral simuling and and continually linking fourth class, very loose terrain, we were probably off route.
The route below is Beckey's route, the standard route on the mountain, though a few variations exist. Most variations include, steep climbing on loose rock--though the difficult sections are broken and there are plenty of opportunities for natural rest. If you're gonna climb this rig, get yourself a copy of his book.
Make your way through the ridge of gendarmes to position yourself on the base of the spire on the West face, where the "serious" climbing begins:
Pitch one: traverse right, through loose rock, then upwards through even looser rock, to a white column (watch out for loose rock). You'll find a place to belay from. Climbing ranges from fourth class to low fifth and placing protection is tricky due to the nature of the rock. Most of the hard climbing is broken by sections of fourth class. Our group found it easier to simul in order to move efficiently through the loose terrain--there weren't many places that inspired confidence to build anchors.
Pitch two: about 140 feet trending upwards and right, low fifth and fourth class.
Pitch three: loose scramble to the top on fourth class (intimidating) terrain.
Camp at 7200' ft divide at the head of Depot Creek. From there, several routes exist to get to the Ridge of Gendarmes.