Johannesburg Mountain - Northeast Buttress, August 2011
(Introduction by Tom Sjolseth)
Johannesburg Mountain. Its N Face is one of the most striking facades in the North Cascades. A twenty-minute hike gets you to its base, but from there, the summit is a world away. In the 4600' of relief from the Cascade Pass parking area to the summit, this mountain has a bit of everything alpine - dramatic waterfalls, vertical brush, towering walls of rock, and eroding glaciers crumbling and falling to the valley below. Along with the sights, the sounds of Johannesburg are equally impressive. Rarely does a day go by where one cannot hear the mountain rumbling. The last time I climbed Johannesburg, I told myself that I wouldn't be back for a while.. that there were other, new places for me to go visit and enjoy. But for someone who lives and breathes the challenge of the North Cascades, I silently waited for another opportunity to arise to climb this iconic symbol of our great range. When Wayne told me he was interested in climbing it after four prior, failed attempts, my ears perked up. I knew that Sergio was also interested, so I asked him to come along. Eliciting an emphatic "sure" from Sergio, we were now a team of three.
Wayne and Sergio met me at my place after work on Friday, and we were finally leaving Everett at 7:15. We arrived to a nearly-full parking lot just before 10PM, which was a bit surprising considering it was a Friday. We turned in soon after we arrived. We awoke at 6AM and put on harnesses & helmets (an approach rarity). Crossing upper Cascade River was easy this time compared with the past two times I've done it, thanks to a snow bridge left over from this Winter's huge avalanche debris piles. Within a half hour, the approach was done, and the climbing began. On last year's climb with Steph, we got onto the rock at ~4400' in the C-J Couloir. That resulted in a rather sketchy pitch of ~5.7 with sparse pro. This time, we got onto the rock at the very base of the couloir, and didn't need the rope (class 3-4). (more...)
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