GLEE PEAK (High Ross)
September 13, 1964
also the far right peak in Gregg Brickner's panorama above.
started an hour before midnight. Tex and Monte Steere, my cousins,
and I piled into my Aunt Dawn's '57 Chevy and drove the Seattle
to Newhalem run in about 3 hours, arriving at my folks' house at
2 AM. My parents were out so we had to do without Mom's famous blueberry
pancakes. Three hours is not enough sleep, but we were up and off
by 5 AM, driving up the Goodell Creek road. Tex had 30 feet of plastic
boat rope wrapped around his waist for use in case we ran into any
"technical climbing." In those days, the drivable road
ended 200 feet before "Straight
Shot Creek." (In this aerial photo link, Newhalem is at
the bottom, the Southern Pickets at the top. Look at how straight
this creek is as the fault it runs in extends over the ridge into
Jay Creek.) Today, the road is washed out 20 minutes by trail farther
and I had scouted the overgrown Goodell logging road and its several
dead-end spurs a couple of years before. We may have even gone fishing
up here, but I never remember Goodell Creek being particularly good
for that. But by 1964 I knew the secret of the Goodell Trail: Always
take the right (uphill) fork. The left forks take you to the stream
or into the brush.
So we made
the right turns and reached the creek at the end of the overgrown
"road" in good time. Here in the stream were two logs
jackstrawed into a perfect "X" and situated
where to get across the creek you'd stand on this slippery, half
submerged "X" or use it as a handhold
as you walked beneath it.
uphill just past this "Over-and-Up
Creek" and were somewhat surprised to find a pretty decent
tread after a brief bit of brush. The trail wasted no time going
up, though we occasionally lost it in the salal. At 3200 feet the
tread petered out but the woods were nicely open to make for a pleasant
ascent to the talus and rock terraces above timberline. Triumph
loomed majestically behind us. We reached the crest between Goodell
and Stetattle Creek by 1 PM . We had no compass, but figured that
our shadows should be pointing north at 12 noon (Standard Time).
was to climb "High Ross," the name my dad applied to the
7200-foot peak, about 4 miles north of the map-named Mt. Ross, at
the end of the ridge that heads north out of Newhalem. He felt we
should climb this peak as logical follow-up to our ascent the previous
year of Trapper's Peak and Big Devil Peak. These peaks are all Newhalem
discussion here, we decided that the gentle ridge heading up to
the south of us led to Peak 6705 and our charge was to make the
peak to our north. We were not pleased with the idea of having to
lose 300 feet of hard-won elevation to get to the low point between
it and us, and Monte gave the universal digital dissatisfaction
symbol as I shot a picture of him doing a free-standing glissade
into the notch. This was likely the place that Glee
Davis and Burton Babcock stood in 1905. We scrambled around
a humpy sub-summit and were standing on the top of "High Ross"
at 3 PM . The Pickets were touchable. Azure Lake lay directly below
us and surprisingly was still partially frozen at the end of September.
Peak and Azure Lake from NE, near Elephant Butte Taken
October 14, 1978
a small cairn on the summit that we dismantled to find an odd rusty
tin of mating halves. The faint words "Oxo Bullion Cubes"
were barely recognizable. We opened this with historical anticipation,
and carefully pulled out a wet piece of blue and yellow cardboard,
the remains of a Grape Nuts box. On it were written the names and
comments of the first ascenders of this peak, unfortunately they
I wrote to the Post Grape Nuts people telling them what a great
mountain food Grape Nuts was and asked when they quit boxing their
product in blue and yellow packages. In 1946 or 47, they answered.
Within a few months they started making those macho ads about how
"Grape Nuts is right for you, but are you right for Grape Nuts?"
I now think the first climb may have been done by the 1938 group
of Ptarmigans. Ours was likely a second.
was late, the sky was whitening, a cool SW wind was blowing trouble
our way, and we weren't prepared to spend the night, so we quickly
signed ourselves in, took a few pictures and made for home.
We arrived back at the car
just before dark and were back in Seattle by 11 PM, 24 hours after
leaving home where a tired Monte echoed his father's words after
he'd climbed Mount Stuart in the '40s: "I'm not going to climb
another peak unless there's a lake on top or I can ski down."
Copyright 2004, John W. Roper, MD.
All Rights Reserved.