Klawatti "Ice" Cap

North Cascades, Washington

July 5 - 7, 2010

Dave and Matt S


What I'm calling the Klawatti Ice Cap makes up the largest sheet of ice in the lower 48 states (I think).  This is the view looking back in the direction we had come showing the McAllister Glacier, and of course, Eldorado Peak.  We camped from where this image was shot near the summit of Austera Peak.

Pathetic as it was, I had an entire summer open with only one solid plan.  A reunion of sorts, pitting Matt, Matt, Darren and Dave against some objective in the North Cascades.  Life, or those who had one, interfered and soon it was down to Matt S and Dave.  Winter came in May and June this year and the weatherman promised summer would start, naturally, on July 5.  We chose the glaciers beyond Eldorado Peak as our destination despite the fact that the snow was hideously unconsolidated and still prone to sliding.  As we ascended towards camp at Eldorado winter did indeed turn to summer.  The transformation, involving a stiff wind was as dramatic a clearing as I've ever witnessed.  Within a few hours we went from a freezing rain (snow just above) to glacier baking in the hot sun.  On the second night we made camp on the summit of Austera Peak which afforded some of the best views in the entire range.  Matt, who is suffering through a stint living in Michigan sat quietly for hours trying to digest the scene around us, hoping the mental images could get him through another bleak Midwestern winter.  Despite (or maybe because of) the blue skies we bailed on the third day not wanting our faces to take anymore of the radiation of the bright snow.  Although the trip didn't come together as planned we were still able to make the most of a few good days in the hills.

Large virgin forests and misty rain on the hike towards treeline.


Clouds peel off Forbidden Peak at sunset.


Not in Michigan anymore.  Matt watches Johannesberg and Glacier Peak emerge from the clouds.


Climbers leaving across the Klawatti Glacier.


View from our bivy on the summit of Austera Ridge.


Eldorado looks like a snowcone from this vantage on the Inspiration Glacier.


Our trip had, thus far, consisted of a lot of walking and little climbing so we started up Klawatti.  Snow conditions were judged to be poor, so we sought the next peak...


... but a small avalanche convinced us snow conditions were unsafe here as well.  The rock on the Tepeh Towers seemed good so we strolled over to Oliphant Tower...


Smitherman approaching the tower.  We climbed one spectacular pitch (huge glaciers McCallister and Inspiration on either side) and bailed.  Having failed on our first three peaks of the day our next objective was more sensible - a milkshake at Good Food.

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