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Summit Routes – Washington’s 100 Highest Peaks

Posted by joeabbott on March 2, 2009


 A short while ago, I wrote about a hiking book I like. This post is about a climbing book I like.

While I do a lot of hiking, I am trained in technical climbing. I do mostly alpine routes, some cragging, and just a little ice. Mostly it’s trudging a long way, crossing a glacier or two, scrambling summit horns and doing a rap or two on the way down. But, as I go out alone quite a bit these days, I’m mostly just hiking and nipping across the tail end of a glacier if necessary. I like to believe (and claim!) that I’m completely safe but, compared to someone playing all afternoon on their Xbox, I’m probably in some sort of imminent danger. But, 20 years from now or so, I hope to be doing much better off than the Xbox players.

During my formal education in mountaineering, I heard about the the “Washington’s 100 Highest” list. There are many lists depending on how you measure height: should you include the volcanic protruberance off the side of Mt. Rainier, “Little Tahoma”, or not? What about Little Annapurna, the high point on a ridge line coming off Dragontail Peak? These are questions for the list makers, but one such list is The Bulgers.

The Bulgers was\is the brainchild of John Lixvar and is documented fully on his pages dedicated to The Bulgers. I claim no expertise, no membership therein, and no true knowledge … but I’m using their list. Or, a version of it.

Back when I was young and strong I fancied that I could knock off the list; just keep moving along. But lots of things got in the way, not the least of which were school and owning a home, and now the aches and pains of pushing over 40 are slowing me up. Or 45. 😉

When I was actively climbing most weekends I’d managed a dozen or so of the peaks before stagnating. I just stopped getting out as much and when I did I’d climb aesthetic (not necessarily tall) mountains, mountains I’d previously climbed, or I’d just hike. It’s beautiful out there without pushing up some rock just because it’s on a list.

And then a couple years ago I came across Summit Routes.

I was delighted by it. It was the comprehensive top-100 list that I was looking for!

 While it has some discrepancies from the Bulgers, the number is smaller than a handful and I could easily knock the few off that were on either list. What made the book golden is the complete descriptions.

The route information is nice, albeit they tend to detail the easiest route up a peak. That’s good for a guy like me doing a lot of these by myself but part of climbing is the pure enjoyment that comes from physical effort and aesthetic lines up a mountain. But, with the Internet and friends, I can easily find alternate routes if needed.

What I really enjoy is that the authors detail the route to the trailhead! They give the roads, backroads, and Forest Road information. The trails are described in complete detail, camp sites are identified and, where applicable, high camps are pointed out. In the 20+ climbs I’ve done from the book already, I haven’t found a single error or errata. It’s just that solid.

They also give Ranger Station information. This is wonderful in that I can call ahead, get current beta, and give my wife a completely detailed itinerary of where I’ll be and who to contact if I’m late. It’s a wonderful guide.

As with the hiking book I mentioned, I’ve pulled all the information out of the guide and compiled it into a spreadsheet. Like the book, the spreadsheet details hiking distances to camp, elevation gains, technical challenges, and ratings of the route. To prepare for a weekend, I merely consider how much time I have, decide if I will have a partner, and find the climb that matches my criteria. It’s a great system.

And so I’d like to thank Scott and Brian for putting together a marvelous guide. I’d love to post my spreadsheet but knowing that I’d be ripping off the authors keeps me from doing that. Instead, if you’re interested in getting some great route information on the 100 highest peaks in Washington, drop $20 on the book and support these guys. They’ve done a great job.


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