The Stump, Terror, Turret, and West and South Fury
July 21-24, 1984
Our grandiose plan was for a 9-day trip to get the Stump for Russ and
Silas, do Terror for Russ and make a FA on the Turret, then if possible,
descend the N Terror couloir, and then do a classic route or two from
the north side of the Southern Pickets.
We had the Barrier moves down pat and were standing at Stump Col with
enough left in the first day to try Carla's route on the North Ridge
of The Stump. These women Firey's had guts. This backside of The Stump
is short (400 feet) but extremely steep. 80-foot contour lines crash
into each other and disappear. It turned out to be a two pitch climb,
one for Silas, and the upper vertical, thin one for Russ. Carla called
it 5.4 and Silas agreed, I'd vote with Russ and add a tenth of a point
for exposure. We were impressed that the Buffalo had done this route
with Long John. The original register was still in place. This is the
kingpin viewpoint for the Crescent Creek Spires.
It was a bushy rap down to the top of the chimney used on the standard
route up. We found a level ledge at 6200 feet that took us neatly across
the E face and back to the Stump Col where we found three reasonably
flat spots for sleeping. We destroyed as best we could a fire hole some
asshole had left here and pitched a small woodpile hither and yon.
In the middle of cooking his half-hour dinner, Russ became concerned
that we did not bring enough fuel for him to cook his non-instant Pritikin
meals. He was counting on finding an extra quart of fuel that he had
buried in September 1981 at the top of The Goat Crossing on The Barrier.
He hadn't counted on Mother Nature burying his burial with another three
feet of snow in July.
July 22. Silas and I tried to ignore the roar of Russ' jet fuel-powered
MSR stove at 5 AM . Russ was having Pritikin pancakes and had packed
in a small pan to cook them in as well as a heat-deflecting (fuel-consuming)
copper plate to soften the blaze and keep his pancakes from burning.
It was a perfect day in Paradise . Our Stump Col to Terror Col time
was 1:20. The Turret was not going to be easy. We peeked over the edge
down the N Terror Couloir and were sobered by the site. A huge wall-to-wall
slab avalanche had peeled off the top foot of snow, exposing dirty, icy
rock-hard snow. Scratch the idea to make this our down route into McMillan
While Silas and I took a breather, Russ bolted off for Terror, a peak
he'd not done before. He made a reasonable error and took the highest
snow on the NE side of the col then got himself hung up in rock that
requires rope. Silas and I took the easy way, which is a step across
a moat, low on the N snow, then a narrow messy up-ramp that leads 40
feet or so to the easier rocks of the W ridge.
Terror was not so terrible this time. From the top, the Degenhardt Glacier
route looked uninviting. The mild winters of the past 7 years had made
this a more difficult undertaking than in 1962, I'd guess. The lower
section had several breaks and the upper section above a possible snow-camp
ledge at 7000 feet looked steeper than dung. The back ledges of Inspiration
were snow covered, so it wasn't like the summer snow cover was inadequate.
Will John Stoddard live to be an old man, we wondered. He was the last
entry in the register, having signed in less than a week before us. By
himself, he'd descended into McMillan Cirque from above Azure Lake, walked
under the Southerns and had soloed a new and better route up the N buttress
of Terror. I later saw that he was on the FWA of the N Face of Colonial.
The boy is in another league.
We returned to our packs at the top of Terror Col and reconnoitered
a way up The Turret, the easternmost pinnacle of The Blob. I led up a
rotten gully starting just S of Terror Col up rock that was steep enough
that Silas and Russ agreed to my top belay. The route above was looking
unlikely, but Silas found a heathered ramp leading up and right to the
W ridge. From here we did two short solid pitches to the summit. It was
another first ascent by virtue of the fact that no one else had recognized
it. We admired the rest of the E ridge leading to The Blob, the route
done in 1951 and did 3 rappels on the return to our packs.
We had good snow conditions to Otto-Himmel Col , reaching it in only
2:10 from Terror Col.
Conditions had definitely changed on the upper part of the Mustard Glacier
since I'd been up it in 1980. There was both a higher and a lower wall-to-wall
schrund buggering our descent to the tiny glacial lake at the end of
McMillan Creek. Since the sun was nearing the horizon, we decided to
make a line for the flat ridge running N off of Frenzel, which we reached
after a rock rappel then steepish sidehill snow. Silas found a couple
of shaded rock flats that looked unappealing but would serve as our mattress.
I wandered further out the ridge and came upon the most delightful camp
in the North Cascades (described below under Frenzel Camp).
July 23. The day started with the 100 decibel MSR stove roaring the
alarm. Another alarm was the look of the other two routes we'd contemplated
from the comfort of the home couch. The East Twin Needle has a classy
looking down sweeping N ridge that remains undone. We later learned from
Carla Firey when we saw her at an exhibition of her watercolors on August
2, 1984 , that she and her husband, Jim McCarthy, had started up this
route but found the rock to be down-slabby and not as solid as the usual
Picket rock. Even without this warning, the route appeared more challenging
than our spirits could muster this day. This route on the East Twin Needle
is called "The Thread of Gneiss." Right next to it is "The
Thread of Ice," a steep, skinny, shadowy, snow couloir that snakes
its way to Eye Col , between the two Needles. A slip in this couloir
would land one in a cold grave, deep in a schrund that marks the start
of the climb. It'll be done someday soon. Not by me. I'd recommend early
in the year and think about bringing an ice tool.
A third alarm was that Silas and Russ brought out the hidden agenda
of climbing the West Peak of Fury. I had done this on our 1980 Picket
traverse and had no urge to go back. Neither of the others had accomplished
the peak, however, a highly significant summit--the highest point in
all the Pickets. Plus they would be able to say that they climbed the
highest peak in the Southern Pickets and the Northern Pickets on successive
days, an accomplishment that had never been done before, although plenty
of unsuspecting climbers had signed out for this 3-mile (by air) traverse
before they realized the relief that has to be dealt with. I finally
yielded, deciding to go along with them to Picket Pass and on to South
Fury by myself, which I'd not done. We left camp late, about 9 AM . There
was one short rappel into the pass north of 6800-foot Frenzel Camp. Over
Picket Pass Peak (6907) and down to Picket Pass (6400'+), 1 1/2 hours
from camp. I enjoyed my way up to South Fury (~7700') in 1300 feet an
hour time, completely awestruck with the world-class view. It took Silas
and Russ 5 hours to make W Fury from Picket Pass and 3:10 from S Fury
to Frenzel Camp.
July 24. Described below. After climbing Frenzel and descending the Otto-Himmel
Couloir we found the snow-choked Himmel Camp uninviting and consequently
angled and dropped 500 feet down to a meadow camp at 5500' along side Crescent
Creek. We spent the evening trying to best each other on big boulder power
Copyright 2004, John W. Roper, MD.
All Rights Reserved.