2003 ICC

Alpine 3: NW Face of Mt Slesse
August 1-2, 2003

Students: Jerry Lindblom, Zach Thunemann
Instructors: Tery Hill, Ryan Allen
Plus: Zach's friend, Mike


I first climbed Slesse in 1989 with Ken Jhoson. It was my first alpine rock climb when I was a student. I thought it would be nostalgic to revisit this route and take now my students up. Many things have changed in 14 years!

I recall getting lost on the approach road, and having to cross a few rivers. I also remember having to take an old, human powered cable car across the treacherous Slesse river.

Today, the road has a sign, "Slesse Trail Head, 5k", and stays on the mountain side of the river, so you never have to cross it. The road also climbs about 2000 feet up, shaving a couple hours on the approach!

Once we found the trail however, it was familiar territory. In typically BC approach trail style, we were slugging our way up relentlessly steep switchbacks, nearing 4th class root climbing! It took about three and a half hours of this brutal grunt. When we topped out on the ridge, we had beautiful views of our destination.  



The plan this time was to do the approach and the climb, and come back to the top of the ridge and camp on Saturday. This would give us a leisurely Sunday to descend and drive home.

After stashing as much gear as we could at the bivvy site, we hiked up to the face. It took us only an hour to start scrambling up the loose and scary gullies to seek out the start of the route.

This wall was amazingly steep and quite varied in terrain. It allowed us to climb in two teams of two, side by side. We each found our own routes up, and never had to wait for one team to finish up a pitch before the next could start. This saved us a lot of time.

Although we did encounter a lot of loose rock, the climbing was quite spectacular and steep while still very moderate, around the 5.6 range.

It took us a few hours to reach the summit. The climbing was about 5 or 6 pitches depending where you go.

The summit offered spectacular 360 degree views of the north cascades.
This is American and Canadian border peaks. Of course the border crosses right between these peaks.





The descent off the summit block was probably the most demanding part. An easy two rappels to the south led us to a nice wide gully with a trail in the middle. From there we found cairns leading us in two different directions. After some discussion, we decided to start rappelling straight down the rest of the gully.

This lead us into a more narrow gully with lots of loose rocks everywhere. Pulling the rope down from each rappel was very scary, and I was afraid we would get the rope stuck. Well after about 5 or 6(?) rappels, we not once cot the rope stuck. The only rock fall all seemed to be directed toward Spidey (Terry), and his injuries all seemed to be minor :)



We all made it out of the rappel gully just fine, and back to the bivvy site at a nice 7:30 PM.

It was clear we were going to make it all the way back to the cars that night! I think someone mentioned "Beers at the car?" and we were on a mission!

It was a great trip! We made it back to the cars right as it was getting dark. I didn't even turn on my head lamp!
Friday, August 1st:
  • 3:30 PM 164th Park and Ride
  • 8:30 PM parking lot at trail head (bad traffic!)
Saturday August 2nd:
  • 4:15 AM alarm goes off
  • 5:00 Leave Trail head
  • 6:00 find Slesse creek trail plack
  • 8:30 Top of ridge bivvy site
  • 9:00 leave bivvy site with liter packs
  • 10:00 top of ridge, at snow patch
  • 11:00 top of scramble started first pitch of 5th class climbing
  • 2:45 PM Summit!
  • 3:30 leave summit
  • 6:00 done rappelling death gully
  • 6:15 we all meet and gather small stash
  • 7:00 top of ridge. stuff gear
  • 9:00 back at the bottom by plack
  • 9:45 four completely exausted climbers arrive back at cars!
Category: Alpine Climbing
Sunday, December 17, 2017
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