Index Traverse, North, Middle and Main

Tom’s report :

Toms NWH report, smaller pictures.

Once again I find myself in utter awe of the efforts of the generations of climbers from the past. Just because a route was done long ago doesn’t mean it wasn’t a hard core route. The Index Traverse solidified that opinion for Tom and I . The climb ranks amongst the great traverses in the country for sure!

My initial plan was to do it in a long one-day push from a Lake Serene bivy. Tom was able to talk some reason into me about taking some minimal bivy gear though. Great call on his part, as we needed the extra time.

The vegetated, loose(ish), and sparsely protected nature of the climbing dictates a careful and thought provoking exercise with safety being the top concern. That translates into a lot more time needed than one would expect. There are more rappels than the guide book suggests too. The decision to spend the night on the climb was rewarded after we spotted a great site between the 2 Middle Peak summits. It was right on the crest and very flat to boot. There was nearby snow and a great view that stretched to the high rises of downtown Seattle and Bellevue. Nice end to a 10 hr climbing day that got most of the hard part over with.

The Norwegian buttresses on left side.

(left):Tom at the lake Serene bivy.(right): just part of the Index massif.

(above and below): Tom on the North face of the North Index Peak

Looking ahead towards the Middle Index from North Index.

Getting out of the notch between the North and Middle, it appears we took the right hand variation that Beckey describes as poorly protected 5.7. It was a way bold lead that pushed me hard for all 60 meters. It felt more like 5.9 r/x.

(left): Tom near the top of that right hand variation.

(left):Tom on the Index Traverse

All told this was an amazing outing, and not one to take lightly. Though a veil of edginess, we really had fun and truly relished the great weather and conditions of this one of a kind Cascades adventure.

(below): Tom enjoying the high bivy

Day 1: Hike to Lake Serene, bivy

Day 2: Climb North Face of North Index and cross ridge to just before the true summit of Middle Peak, at the great saddle bivy. 6-10 hrs

Day 3: Summit Middle and begin log traverse/descent to Notch between Middle and Main. Summit Main and descent back to lake.


  1. Kyle says

    Ouch, that sounds much harder than I had read. It was on the bucket list, but now maybe a little farther down.

  2. ryan says

    Wayne – did you use the crampons or ice axe? Thinking of attempting this route in July this summer.


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