The Northeast Buttress on Goode Mountain had been on my short list of late-summer climbs for a few years and the stars hadn’t quite aligned for it until this Labor Day weekend when both Kelsey and I had three full days and sufficient gumption to commit to the mileage.
We left Seattle at 7am on Saturday morning and left the trailhead around 10:30am. The slightly-downhill miles on the PCT went pretty easily and quickly and we were at the North Fork of Bridge Creek turnoff, about 12 miles in, faster than we’d anticipated, in about 3 hours. From there, the trail up the North Fork was in better shape than anticipated, with only a little bit of brush after the mellow, late-summer Grizzly Creek crossing. We found an easy path down to the North Fork crossing and did a quick barefoot ford where we also ran into another party of two.
The group of us worked our way up the slabs, brush, and talus of the approach to high camp, arriving at a bivy site around 5,400 feet at 6:30pm or so for an 8-hour day—not too bad.
We decided that an alpine start wouldn’t be needed and set our alarms for 6am after taking in the sunset while enjoying an extended dinner and dessert break. We were moving by 7am in the morning and wove our way as high as we could on rock before committing to the glacier. Getting onto it was steeper than I would have liked in approach shoes with strap-on aluminum crampons and with an ultralight axe, but it went. Once we were on the glacier, we only had to weave our way around a handful of gaping crevasses before holding elevation on a high traverse all the way to the base of the route, at which we ran into another group of two and found an easy section of collapsed snow in the moat to gain the rock at about 9am.
The first 1000+ feet of the route are easy 4th class, which we simul-climbed pretty quickly. While it was easier on the left side of the ridge, staying true to the ridge was a lot more fun, so we spent most of the time in that great position on more solid rock than I expected. The upper sections of the route had a bit more 5th class, but stayed quite mellow and simul-climbable. We took a couple of breaks in the shade on nice ledges as it was a hot day and finished up the last pitch to the summit at about 3:15pm.
The summit views from Goode are stellar—perhaps even better than from Forbidden Peak. Thankfully, the wildfire smoke stayed away for the whole day on Sunday and it was a beautifully clear view. We could see fires to the North, East, and South, so we were quite lucky with the wind direction.
After soaking it in for a while, we started down at about 4:30pm, doing three raps to the ledge system and a couple more raps down the couloir before scampering down the rest of the 4th class choss while trying not to kill each other. At 6:30pm, we were on the open meadow below with some running water. We loaded up here and descended a bit more, but decided not to follow the other parties down the full descent that night and instead stayed at about 7,400 feet for the night with a great view of the range and sunset.
We started the long walk out at 6:15am the next morning, reaching the valley floor at 9am after a few sections of trickier, loose terrain on the way. From there, it was a LONG 20-mile walk out with sore feet on a hot, smokey day. We stopped a few times to take our shoes off and soak our feet in the cool streams, but they definitely felt like hamburger by the end of it. Thankfully, our single rack of ultralight cams, 8mm 60m rope, and lack of a tent helped keep the load relatively light.
Great adventure to a beautiful summit in the great North Cascades.