Mount Redoubt (WA)

July 8, 2018


Depot Creek / Chilliwack Lake Road, WA

There are quite a few peaks named “Redoubt” in North America so not to be confused with the others, this one is in the North Cascades of Washington state close to U.S./Canada border. Mt. Redoubt has very impressive profile from all sides and attracts both the Canadians and Americans. And because of the inclusion in the Bulger list this remote peak sees more visitors than what I would expect. Reaching the summit of Mt. Redoubt is by no mean an easy fair – long approach, camping, glacier travel and a class 4 chimney that’s often chocked with snow and ice.

There are five other Bulgers in the same area so the die-hard enthusiasts will plan enough time to grab all six in one bag. The approach is actually from B.C. side of the border via Chilliwack Lake and Depot Creek FSR. Most parties can only make to Lake Ouzel on their first day before running out of gas while some push to the “high camp” at Redoubt/Moxes col. But if you are as fit and motivated as Eric G. and I then the plan is to make to high camp along with bagging Easy Mox and Mt. Redoubt in the first day… This ended up turning into an 18-hour death march.

Mt. Redoubt standard south side route.

After dropping all of our overnight gears at the high camp we still had about 5 hours of daylight time. The weather’s still good and our stoke level was still high so there’s no way just to sit there doing nothing. We didn’t bother to set up camp because we wanted to get up and down Mt. Redoubt before dark, if possible. The first stage is an easy snow plod to a “shoulder” underneath Mt. Redoubt’s Flying Buttress. Getting onto the rock at the base of the buttress involved a few 3rd-4th class moves on solid rocks and then we had to lose some elevation to traverse onto the south slopes. This stage was confusing enough that we ended up pulling the beta out, but still ended up taking a wrong gully. The gully we took was a sustained 35-40 degree snow climbing with a troublesome moat crossing to start with. For that reason we both donned crampons and ice axe. Higher up the two gullies joined and we trended climber’s left traversing another steep slope to access the upper slopes, which we kicked step up for as far as the snow went.

Me hiking up the upper Redoubt Glacier. Photo by Eric G.

Eric enjoying the long and mundane glacier plod.

Me stepping onto a short rock step to get off the glacier.

From the south shoulder looking at Flying Buttress

Descending off the shoulder into the south side basin, and then traverse

I led us up a wrong gully but it worked nonetheless

Eric climbing up the tricky moat step

Merging left onto the proper route. Photo by Eric G.

Eric merging climber’s left after existing our steep gully

Ascending the lower snowfield with Flying Buttress behind

After a leftward traverse we topped out the lower snowfield

Me leading up the upper snowfield. Photo by Eric G.

The rightward-trending “highway” was still snow covered while transitioning back onto the rocks involved a short stretch of 45+ degree snow climbing. This is the start of the 3rd class gully system that we’d take in the next while. The route looked exceptionally dry but we knew there’s potential snow and ice at the crux gully so still had to take the ice axes and crampons up. Eric bolted up the lower gully like a mad man and I went as fast as I humanly could to barely keep him up. In no time the 3rd class terrain petered out. Looking ahead there’s a leftward traverse into a snow-filled gully that eventually led to the cannon hole crux step. The snow was very soft, but the crux move was chocked with ice. Before realizing we were too high up to do any gear transition. Eric mantled up with no problem and reached the belay station at the cannon hole but the problem – the rope was in my backpack. I was stuck under the crux stemming move for at least ten minutes but couldn’t gather enough courage to commit to that move. I ended up throwing the rope up for at least five times before it finally reached Eric’s grab. With the top-rope belay I then had no problem stemming up the icy walls. I continued leading an exposed 3rd class pitch past the cannon hole along the north side of summit ridge to the upper belay station and shortly after that we were standing on the highest point of Mt. Redoubt.

Eric kicking step up the steep snow before merging onto rock

This is the rightward trending “highway”, partly covered by snow still

Eric starting the 3rd class gully system

It started out easily but the rock’s kinda loose

Me scrambling the typical gully terrain. Photo by Eric G.

Higher up on the 3rd class gully

Eric traversing and climbing into the crux cannon hole gully

The crux is a very strenuous stemming move over ice and down-sloping wet “holds”

I chickened out at the crux and asked for a belay

I then belayed Eric up the summit ridge pitch

Summit Panorama from Mt. Redoubt. Click to view large size.

Looking down at the Mox Peaks aka. Twin Spires

Mt. Challenger with its massive glacier on the northern Picket Range

This is a cool shot with Glacier Peak rising behind Luna Peak

Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker are the icons of North Cascades

Slesse Mountain doesn’t need a lot of introduction

This is looking back at Chilliwack Lake with Cheam Range behind

Mt. Spickard is the tallest in this group

This is the choss king – Mt. Custer

A wider view of Mt. Custer, Mt. Spickard and the glacier on NE side of Redoubt

Eric on the summit of Mt. Redoubt

Me on the summit of Mt. Redoubt

There’s not a lot of extra time to kill so after the obligatory photos we immediately started the descent. Too tired to fuck things around we just did two 15-m rappels from station to station to get off the exposed terrain and the icy gully. One 30-m rope was long enough to do the job. Once entering the loose 3rd class gully system we packed the rope and carefully down-climbed the whole way. For the most parts we could descend facing outwards so nothing’s too overly technical. The lip of the snow/moat provided a good stand to do gear transition and soon enough we turned out faces into the slope and down-climbed that short 45+ degree section to get back onto the snowfield. Plunging down the upper snowfield was a blast but the lower snowfield was too steep to plunge given the conditions we had. The snow’s balling underneath the crampons so we pretty much just down-climbed the entire length.

Eric rappelling off the summit ridge pitch

Me rappelling off the cannon hole pitch

Eric on the cannon hole rappel

Gingerly down-climbing the long and loose 3rd class gully

Back to the 45-degree snow section

Partway down the upper snowfield, looking sideways across Flying Buttress

Eric plunging down the upper snowfield.

Luna Peak

Mt. Fury

Mt. Challenger

Me traversing and down-climbing onto the lower snowfield. Photo by Eric G.

We used a different gully (fat and mellow) farther out to the west and it worked out greatly. Once the gully petered out we rejoined our own tracks and traversed back onto that rocky shoulder. Any elevation regain at this stage of a day was exhausting and once transitioning back onto rocks we took the crampons out and swapped the ice axe for poles. Down-climbing 4th class rocks to get onto the Redoubt Glacier was not a problem and then we enjoyed a fun plunge back to camp. We arrived at about half an hour before sunset so the view’s as good as it could get.

More down-climbing. Photo by Eric G.

Plunging down Redoubt Glacier back to camp

Mt. Spickard

Easy Mox which we just bagged. Hard Mox is hidden from view

The last beams of sunlight shone on the Nohokomeen Headwall of Jack Mountain

Evening glow at our camp. Tent’s erected and dinner’s cooked

Me, the tent and sunset horizon. Photo by Eric G.

Of course we still had to set up the camp and cook dinners. I took care Black Diamond 2-person tent while Eric did the cooking job using my Reactor setup. The Mountain House dinner tasted exceptionally well given how much work we had put into on this exhausting day. Sleep came pretty easily, and the next day – Hard Mox.