MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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August 11, 2010

Mt. Triumph Northeast Buttress and Liberty Bell Mountain Beckey Route

During the last week of July I dusted off my old guiding skills and headed for the hills! Now spending more of my time in the office it felt good to bust out one of the North Cascade's classic alpine rock climbs. Joining me was Gordon Smith, whom over the years I journeyed to the volcanoes of Ecuador, to climb a bunch of alpine climbs in the Cascades, and to Russia in 1990 to climb Mt. Elbrus and 23,000ft.+ Pik Lenin, a trip that coincidentally happened during the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

The friendship and stories were all familiar, from crashing through brush in the dark after getting up the infrequently climbed northeast face of Mt. Stuart to those interesting times when the USSR was fragmenting and finding a scrap of food in Moscow was one of the biggest challenges of the trip. But our choice of climbs for this outing was not so familiar. I had not been up the beautiful northeast ridge of Triumph and was as excited as Gordo as we began our walk along the old road bed up to Thorton Lakes. Gordo had made a special request to get "beat up" a bit, something these days I seem more to be on the receiving end than otherwise being as busy as I am with raising two daughters and keeping the Madness on course. Our plan to climb Triumph followed by some Washington Pass alpine rock seemed just the ticket for a good ol Cascades challenge.

It was as good a trip we could have hoped for; from the beautiful hike through old growth forests on the way to Thorton Lakes, some great low to mid-fifth class rock in an unsurpassed North Cascades setting, to the immense feeling of satisfaction of getting back to camp after a perfect 15-hour day on Triumph. I think the photos tell it all:

Thorton Lake with Triumph in the background

Triumph

Triumph with easy glacier approach shown

The elegant northeast ridge - climbing is 4th class with some mid-fifth class along the way
Triumph with easy glacier approach shown

The most stunning campsite in the North Cascades?

The approach to the ridge

Three climbers in the bottom right approaching Triumph

Along the spiny crest of the route- lots of exposure on moderate terrain

Solid rock along the crest

The Pickets, one of the most inaccessible places in the lower 48

Some of the best climbing in the Cascades if you can get there!

The crux pitch, a nice 5.7 crack that can be avoided at 5.5 on the left

More airy, but easy climbing

On the summit of maybe the best view to be had in the North Cascades!

Gordon on the summit

The Liberty Bell Massif

Starting the first pitch of the Beckey route on Liberty Bell

Solid anchors the whole way

Top of pitch 1

Great crack climbing on pitch 3

Downward bound and the race to beat the afternoon t-storm

~ MM President/Owner Mark Gunlogson