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Whatcom Pk. and Mt. Challenger
Timestamp Free: 2018.12.18 - 07:02:52
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Cascade Range / Washington Cascades
  (5 days)
Participants: Peter Gumplinger, Silke Gumplinger, Dan Carey
Difficulty: 4: one move of 5.7 on the Challenger summit block, much 3rd class scrambling and exposure on both Challenger and North Ridge of Whatcom Peak; glacier travel; route finding
Little Beaver Trail; Whatcom Pass; Whatcom Peak (North Ridge); Perfect Pass; Challenger Glacier; Challenger Summit; Wiley Ridge; Beaver Pass; Big Beaver Trail. - five days
Whatcom Pk. [2309m] and Mt. Challenger [2501m]; June 27-1, 2009

These two elusive summits stand as the northern anchors of the Picket Range in North Cascades National Park (NCNP). This area is arguably the most rugged and remote mountain wilderness in the lower 48 states. Challenger and the majority of the Pickets are not visible from any road and no trails offer particularly good views of the area. The authors of Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Vol 1 rave about the objective in the following words: Mt. Challenger is a remote and highly satisfying climb that makes for an almost spiritual experience... (emphasis added). The route represents the best of traditional Cascades mountaineering. Guarded by long, rugged approaches that inflict real hardship, Challenger inspires the imagination and offers rewards unsurpassed in the Cascades . So then why did my club trip only attract one volunteer, Dan, an expatriate American? My wife, Silke, had no choice in the matter. She was needed to get us up the 5th class summit block. Is it because most trip reports agree that Challenger lives up to its name? The long and arduous approaches require at least 4 or 5 days (round trip) by any of the three standard approaches. - My plan involved taking the Ross Lake Resort water taxi up the lake to the Little Beaver Trail, hike 17 miles to Whatcom Pass, scramble over the top of Whatcom Peak via its North Ridge to access Perfect Pass, traverse Challenger Glacier to connect with the route up from Challenger Arm, dump overnight packs, go climb the summit, and retreat via the Wiley Ridge to Beaver Pass, hike Big Beaver Trail some 14 miles back to Ross Lake and finally a water taxi out. This makes for a traverse and has only one downhill bushwhack section. An option would have been to traverse...

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