The Southern Pickets
“Because of the rugged terrain, the Picket Range has remained the wildest and most unexplored region in the North Cascades. It is not an area for the wilderness novice ; its isolated brushy valleys and jagged ridges are a test for the most seasoned mountaineers, The length of climbs, combined with steep terrain and variable conditions ,demands all around competence and fitness”
Fred Beckey – Cascade Alpine Guide
I could come up with many words to describe the Southern Pickets. Some are flattering, some not so. They are pleasing to the eyes, yet terrifying to the aspiring climber. They are highly accessible, but offer few route that are traveled with ease. They offer some the the most amazing alpine climbing in the states, yet there are very few routes to choose from. Thousands of climbers know about this fantastic range yet it is rare to see another party (outside of W. Mac, Insp. area). Very accessible in winter, yet only a couple summits have been done during that season. It epitomizes our very idea of rugged mountain exploration yet, there has only a few recorded new routes the last 23 years.
It seems to stand in defiance of our modern sports culture.
There have been many brave adventures here though over the years. Beckeys books, NWMJ, and a few other publications have picked over the history well those earier exploits. I hope to just add to some personal and more recent flavor of the Southern half of our proudest range.
It wasnt until 2003 that I first got into the Southern Pickets Range. Lane and I went in in that summer and went from West Mac to Inspiration. The going was difficult but very doable. Once I found that out, the gates broke loose on an idea I had formulated a couple of years prior.
I was hoping nobody had previously done a complete summit ridge traverse of the range in a continuous push. My queries led me to believe it hadn’t. The idea went forward. I came back looking for partners who I felt could handle the task. I found a couple of partners that had some rivalry over the idea, but when we teamed up, the Summit Ridge Traverse was a dream come true for us, and many other people ( I was to find the Fireys had this vision decades prior). I can say it was, for me, a true highlight of my life.
- It recently has seen a repeated effort to not only do the Southern Traverse, but add the Northern on too! Jens, Sol, and Dan did 12 of the Southern Pickets summits, getting the 2nd ascent of Sou. Pickets Summit Ridge traverse. They then pushed into the Northern group to summit Outrigger peak and Luna!
- Here are their awesome reports:
Sol W. CC Report
Between the 2 succesful traverses on the Southern range, I know of at least 3 attempts on it that fell short. Also in the same time line there were a few other new routes done on other summits in the group:
Alan K MacMillan Report.
Rolf and Peters MacMillan (Cant find) Report.
Other useful S. Pickets links:
Stephs amazing Pickets Page
Summit post Page, again, mostly Steph
Cool Photos here
Which only leaves to question: What possible new routes may be left?
Warning, there are some patches of real bad rock in this range! Descents from nearly All summits are serious affairs!
Route to the right of the South Face line on Inspiration.
S, Face of Himmelhorn.
Several unclimbed faces of Frenzlespitz.
N.face of Pyramid.
N face of MacMillans in Winter.
A direct route up the s. ridge of E tower or The Blob/Rake. Promises to be stellar. SP Ridge traverse takes a “Thank God Ledge” around it, left.
Only W Mac, Inspiration, Terror, and the Chopping Block have been summited in Winter.
People have been enjoying”Mini Traverses” along the ridge, bagging several summits on the way., The 3 Macs, and W. Mac to Inspiration are popular.
The truth is, except for the North side, The Southern Pickets are relatively easy to get into. The Goodell Creek Trail is a quite manageable ,if you stay on it.. The Terror Creek isnt too bad, but it helps to have someone with you who has done it before, it has great spank potential. Again, the only option is to stay on the trail.
Enjoy the Southern Pickets, but a few words of advice: Permits are required and may fill up certain weekends. Pack as light as possible, it has to be good weather anyways to climb there. Watch for loose stuff and slippery lichen, it is almost everywhere. Get as much info as possible on the objective, and by all means Go Fast!
|Great Traverses in Washington State and beyond…|
|Welcome to my traverse page. I am very fascinated by the practice of climbing summits and the ridges that connect them.
Having done a few, I am hooked. They are very rewarding.
It is great to be on summits. Traverses allow you to spend days (AND NIGHTS!!!) on many summits,
as well as see NEW territory for the entire trip!…… Wow! Lets get going!!
Perhaps, The qualities of a great traverse should consider the following :
If you have experience with a route, let me know any opinions, please
|Ok, Here is where I make a point that I have wanted to make for a while.There are different definitions of “Traverses”
Old style traverses of the Pickets and other ranges use to be nothing more than crossing the crest of a range and maybe a summit or two along the way. I dont mean to minimize anyones efforts. I have the utmost respect for the all adventurers
Then there are true “Summit Ridge Traverses” that almost always stay on or near the crest of the ridge that connects the summits.That is what I am trying to represent here on this page
| Extreme Traverses in Washington State (somewhere between 1st and second tier)
Torment -Forbidden (beta)…and—–My Trip Report
Northern Pickets Traverse
Southern Pickets Traverse
Sawtooth Ridge Traverse, Olympics
The Needles (Olympics)
The Valhalla Traverse (Olympics)
Bonanza Traverse #1 Tri-summit, NE to SW
Bonanza Traverse #2
Washington Pass Traverse
Index Traverse , my report, Marko’s Winter Ascent
Complete Twin Sisters Range Traverse
|Northern Pickets Traverse photo Josh Kaplan|
|The Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse ,Palisades, photo, Lane Brown|
North Ridge Forbidden
| Big Traverses of the World (1st tier)
Mt Waddington, again
Cerro Torre Traverse, congrats to partner, Colin Haley
Bolivia: Ancohoma > Illampu
Care Bear Traverse
Many in Europe that I dont know about…
|Yet to be done,:
Aoraki Grand Traverse
Traverses have been around for a long time. I have been looking for quotes and history on what motivates other climbers. Peter Croft and Lowell Skoog were my early inspirations.
Having been at the sport for a while , it is a great way for me to explore my capacity for climbing. It can get really easy to climb just a single route.
Traverses allow for no limits.
There are easier ones to do that most climbers have the capacity for.
It gives one the chance to stay on the summit longer as well.
Sold on the idea of traversing? Send me your trip report!Be careful to bivy within easy escape if you can. Be familiar with all escapes and beware of being up high in bad weather and thunderstorms. On traverses you are more vulnerable to storms, exposure ,wind, and altitude issues. Light gear is essential, so bail if and before it turns bad. Figure out any shuttle issues too.
If you are successful with this sport, it should be very rewarding!
|The notorious Index Traverse. A favorite of some in winter!
Photo by Eric L.
|Sawtooth Ridge Traverse, Olympics
Photo, Wayne Wallace
|Above: On the Waddington ridge
Above-right: The Everest Trilogy
Right : Sawtooth Traverse in The Sierras
Below The Red Kaweah,from Black
Photos : Doug Artman (except Everest)
|My Personal Traverses: Route, Date and(# of summits covered and # of miles along ridge-top)
The Oregon Cascade Grand Traverse Hood to Broken Top July-1982 (8 summits)
The Southern Pickets Traverse 7-2003 (14 summits, 4miles)
The Sawtooth Ridge Traverse 8-2004 (20 summits, 2 Miles Long)
Ingalls Peaks Traverse 9-2004 (3-4 summits Half Mile)
The Northern Pickets Traverse 7-2005 (9-10 summits, 8 miles)
The Stuart Range Traverse 7-2005 (5 summits, 3miles)
Torment-Forbidden Traverse 8-2008 (2-summits,1 and a half miles)
The 3 Fingers Traverse (3 summits ,Quarter Mile)Traverse-like Mountain Routes:
N.W. Ridge, Mt Logan 10-2003 ( 1 summit, 1 mile)
Mongo Ridge, Mt Fury 8-2006 (3 summits, 1 mile)
|search words: “climbing” , “climbing traverses” ,” NW traverses”|