Mount Formidable by Spider Mountain via Ptarmigan Traverse / 畏懼山

  • Reading time:3 mins read

Mount Formidable by Spider Mountain is impressive. Its notable north face above Middle Cascade Glacier is also recognizable from other places in the Cascades. Climbers sometimes include the peak as part of the famous Ptarmigan Traverse.

Mount Formidable and Middle Cascade Glacier from Cache Col
Mount Formidable and Middle Cascade Glacier from Cache Col

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Mount Formidable at a Glance

Access: Cascade Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3480′-8325′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, rock & rope
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Mount Formidable

The three of us came in earlier in the season in the hope of benefitting from the snow. But as it turned out, the snow quality was terrible then. But the climb would’ve been more enjoyable in late summer.

Even though we had excellent weather, the heat had worked against us. And by the late morning, we were mostly in slush. So many places ended up knee-deep. Though, I wondered why we never used our snowshoes?!

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Cascade Pass Trailhead to Cache Col

It was scenic from the beginning that I couldn’t put down the camera. We also took many breaks along the way to marvel at the beautiful landscape.

We reached Cache Col in mid-morning. Then suddenly, it became apparent why folks have made their journey through the Ptarmigan Traverse. Everywhere I looked made a picture-perfect framing.

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Middle Fork Cascade River Valley
Middle Fork Cascade River Valley

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Red Ledge

Somehow, we went too high up while we tried finding the Red Ledge. But glad we caught the mistake early and soon retraced our steps to avoid cliffs.

Later, going through the Middle Cascade Glacier was laborious, especially with the lousy snow we had. At ghe same time, we postholed and dug up slush with every step.

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Spider-Formidable Col

We set up camp on Spider-Formidable Col. There was even water trickling down the nearby slabs for drinking. Then with much daylight remain, we gave Mount Formidable a try.

Unfortunately, we were off-route from the start, and so we never went far. Later we decided to go back to camp and rest instead. The evening’s vibrant colors had filled the sky. Then I had a good but cold night’s rest.

Morning light
Morning light

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Mount Formidable Climb

The following day, we started walking at 6 AM. So we could benefit from the extended daylight. We also had to consider the time it would take us to return to the trailhead after the climb.

The crux of the climb was the several snow ramps in the steep gullies. But we were able to bypass them safely and then reached the summit sooner than we expected. Then we spent a long time on top.

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Mount Formidable Summit Plus Exit

It was an overcast sky with high clouds. So views stretched as far as the eyes could see. The climb was arduous, not to mention the amount of work it took to downclimb the steep terrain.

Solid rocks for rappelling were scarce. But glad that all of us made it down to camp in one piece. Then we rested briefly. Later we made the long journey back to Cascade Pass Trailhead.

Below Mount Formidable Summit
Below Mount Formidable Summit

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Outro

This trip would have been much more enjoyable with an extra day. Perhaps one day, I’ll consider coming back to do the Ptarmigan Traverse.

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