The mountains of the North Cascades are filled with dark names.

Despondent.  Torment.  Forbidden.  Sinister.  Fury.  Despair.

Triumph stands out - figuratively and literally.  The peak is hidden from the highway, but the view from the summit is like few others.  Paul joined me for a three day trip in to climb its Northeast Ridge, one of the classic routes of the North Cascades.  We met in Marblemount, got our permit from the Ranger Station, and spent a few hours hiking up to lower Thornton Lake, where ice still floats on the surface - middle Thornton Lake was still covered but broken, but upper Thornton Lake is still capped by a thick ice/snow cap.

photo | chris

photo | chris

We got an alpine start the next morning and followed a great use trail along the western edge of the lake by headlamp.  A weak weather system moving in pushed clouds up the west side of Triumph, but by the afternoon it was beautiful and clear.  We stopped at the Triumph-Trapper Col to put on harnesses, helmets, crampons and the rope to cross the Triumph Glacier, and passed two other parties in the process.  Once we reached the route, I opted for a steeper start to the left to stay clear of the other teams and gain the ridge more directly.  As we climbed the rock grew steeper and narrower, but Paul moved like a pro and we made great time.  We hit the final heather slopes and then we were standing on the summit just before noon.

The descent is just as complicated as the ascent, because now we had to stop and rappel at the steeper pitches, then down-climb through the less steep traverses.  We helped out one of the teams who had turned around ahead of us, only to get a rope stuck on their first rappel.  Our descent was slow and steady, and we landed back on the glacier another 4:30 hours later.   Total time on the route: 9:30 hours (given 1 hour for hanging on the summit).  Then all we had to do was re-trace our steps across the glacier, through the Col, and back to camp.

After a light breakfast we made great time back down the trail, stopping to notice the porcupine-stripped bark and the bear scat left smack-dab in the middle of the trail.  Here bear, nice bear...

Statistics:  Pro Guide Service, 12-14 August 2011, with Paul F.  Mt Triumph (7270 ft / 2216 m), Northeast Ridge, III 5.7.

Photo credit:  I discovered a dead battery during our hike in, so all of these photos are Paul's (except for the two noted), and used with his permission.  Thanks Paul!