Climbing the Chilliwack Slam

craig.hill@thenewstribune.comNovember 17, 2013 

Six of the highest peaks in Washington are tucked away in the North Cascades where crummy weather, poor rock and an international approach keep many climbers away.

When a group of South Sound climbers visited the area this summer, two members of the party climbed all six peaks, perhaps becoming the first to do so in one trip.

Tyler Farr, a 28-year-old Tacoma resident, and Dan Lauren, a 55-year-old from Kent, will give a presentation about their trip Friday night.

Farr and Lauren made the trip, known in mountaineering circles as the Chilliwack Slam, with Curt Baxstrom of Federal Way and Nelson Hamre of Bonney Lake.

Farr and Hamre were the members of the group who climbed all six peaks.

The six peaks are particularly alluring to mountaineers who are trying to bag all of the peaks on the Bulger 100, an unofficial list of the 100 highest peaks in Washington. Mount Spickard (8,979 feet) ranks 16th on the list, Mount Redoubt (8,969) is 18th, Mount Custer (8,630) is 39th, Twin Spire (8,504) ranks 56th, Mount Rahm (8,480) is 60th, and Northwest Mox Peak (8,407) is 75th.

As the climbers approached the peaks from British Columbia — the easiest way to access the secluded peaks — they were most concerned with Twin Spire.

Also known as Hard Mox in climbing circles, Twin Spire is known for poor rock conditions and required the group to be supremely cautious.

On the first day, the climbers carried 55-pound packs as they hiked into a basin below the peaks. And on the second day they climbed Northwest Mox, also known as Easy Mox.

More than a year of planning paid off on the third day when they took on Hard Mox. The climb went smoothly, and the team took its time scaling the peak. The summit register showed they were just the 41st party to reach the summit since Fred and Helmy Beckey made the first ascent in 1941.

“It was a big day for Dan because it was his 55th birthday, and he’s going for the (Bulger) 100,” Farr said. Lauren has completed more than half the list.

The next day, some of the men bagged Redoubt before finding out that their most challenging day would actually be their final day of climbing.

The men started Day 5 by climbing Rahm, then traversed a ridgeline to Mount Custer, where they spent several hours climbing over poor rock.

“I just wanted something solid,” Farr said of the climbing conditions.

As they later learned, the route they took on Custer wasn’t the route they thought they were taking. They may have been the first climbers to take the route, Farr said, “although I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody.”

As for the correct route, Farr said, “I don’t think I would ever go back to figure it out.”

Once they descended Mount Custer, Farr and Hamre took a nap before scrambling up Mount Spickard to complete their Chilliwack Slam.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 @AdventureGuys

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