Cutthroat Peak West Ridge by Whistler Mountain / 殺手峯

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Cutthroat Peak is just 2.5 miles west of Washington Pass. It shares a joining ridgeline with Whistler Mountain to the south as well. The two popular routes to reach the peak include the west ridge and the south buttress.

Cutthroat Peak's summit block
Cutthroat Peak’s summit block

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Cutthroat Peak at a Glance

Access: Highway 20 @ .5 mile west of Blue Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: 3.6 miles
Elevation Range: 5000′-8050′
Gear: helmet, rope
GPS Track: available

The Preface

Now and then, it’s a real treat to climb something like Cutthroat Peak. I haven’t checked my GPS track. But it could have been my quickest approach to a solo climb. Seeing the route from the road was the best part.

It would’ve been ideal to combine the climb with Corteo Peak over one weekend. Both of them are close to each other. And either one is doable in a day. But the weather god had a different plan for Sunday.

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Cutthroat Peak West Ridge

A few cars were at the highway pullout. But most groups climb the classic south buttress. So I didn’t think I’d have company on the west ridge. From the highway, the climbers’ trail dropped to 5000′. Then it crossed State Creek in the forest and made its way up through the meadow.

Just past the meadow, the trail went up steadily. Then it went along the north of the drainage. Eventually, it flattened at 6200′. Once the vegetation dwindled at 6500′, talus and scree followed. At times, sunlight would seep through the clouds.

Cutthroat Peak above the meadow
Cutthroat Peak above the meadow

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In Search of the First Gully

The goal was to reach the bottom of the west ridge. So I continued to move northwest on loose rocks. Meanwhile, I looked for the entrance to the first southwest gully. According to Cascade Alpine Guide and online resources, it’s the least technical.

Later at 7400′, I entered a gully and climbed up steeply in weak visibility. Route finding became tricky in some places. The crux required a few class 5 moves. So that was when I thought I might’ve been in the more challenging second southwest gully.

In search of the first gully
In search of the first gully

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Cutthroat Peak North Ridge

Later I reached the west ridge at 7800′. Then more clouds came in and blocked my view to the northwest ledge. But the narrow path tuned out more pleasant than I had expected. Soon, I went up on the notch that gave access to the north ridge.

On a clear day, the views would have been excellent. Not sure what all I could see today. But it would be nice to check out many places I had climbed before. Alas, today wasn’t my day to see the stunning landscape.

Cutthroat Peak Northwest ledge
Cutthroat Peak Northwest ledge

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Cutthroat Peak Summit

I had brought rock shoes with me for the final stretch. But I ended up not needing them. Despite weak visibility, the decent holds throughout the rocks still made the scramble enjoyable. I even saw a few cairns through here.

The clouds stayed on the peak. But not before I spent an hour and a half waiting out the mist. Later as I was leaving the top, I heard voices at the top of the south buttress. So there was at least one other party here today. Soon, it drizzled.

No views on the summit
No views on the summit

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Outro

The rain came right as I reached the top of the steep gully. Because of the slippery rocks, I rappeled instead. It was my first time doing so in the rain–nerve-racking. Then with two 60m rope rappels, I got down as far as I could. So I ended up a few feet below the crux.

Later I found the trail in the south basin and quickly hiked back to the highway. The voices I heard on the summit belonged to two climbers. They reached their car half an hour later. It turned out that one of them was my leader on Chair Peak. Small world, indeed!

Back to the south basin
Back to the south basin

See more trip photos here.

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