After our long snow slog on Mount Rainier last weekend, Dale and I were both looking for a higher technical climbing to approach ratio. With warmer temperatures forecast, Washington Pass was a natural option. We did some easier routes on Saturday (South Arete and Southwest Rib), had a great evening in Winthrop, and then drove back to the hairpin on Sunday morning.
The approach was all covered in snow and we did it in mountaineering boots, with crampons and one stubby axe ready just in case. It took about an hour and a half to get to the route and we transitioned here to rock shoes with all of the gear in the pack, which ended up weighing north of 30 pounds. The first bunch of pitches were pretty straightforward. Pulling layback moves on the 5.9+ and 5.8 bits with the pack on was pretty strenuous, but it went without too much trouble. Dale led us to the sport/aid crux where I tried my hand at the slab and nearly made it past the slab crux before aiding my way through.
The climbing was pretty good, but it was the position and view which were special. A few more pitches on the East Face brought us to a memorable top-out and third summit of the South Early Winters Spire in two days. The subsequent descent was the fastest I've ever come down snow on foot. It was a perfect consistency and we jogged our way down to the car for victory pizza.