SKAGIT ALPINISM

Colfax Peak, Kimchi Suicide Volcano

August 23rd, 2015

This past winter/spring I had a little obsession with Colfax Peak, the prominent sub-summit on the western side of Kulshan.  Ever since simul-soloing the Cosely-Houston route with Roger Strong back in 2007 (a couple nice photos from that climb here) , I knew that Colfax Peak held some of the highest-quality alpine climbing in the Cascades. This past March Sarah Hart and I made an early repeat of the Polish Route, which was a spectacular ice climb. We went back twice in early April, but I never managed until now to find the time to write about it. On April 5th Sarah and I climbed the classic Cosely-Houston with skis on our backs, and then continued partway up Kulshan afterwards until Sarah got cold feet (literally, it was quite a chilly day). We were back four days later, on April 9th, and this time got serious and headed up a line I had been scoping on earlier forays.

The route we climbed takes an independent line to the left of the Polish Route. It is, I believe, the first route on the face that is more of a mixed climb than a pure ice climb. The rock on Colfax is amazingly well featured, with tons of face holds everywhere. Protection isn’t always easy, but there are at least lots of features for climbing. We named our route Kimchi Suicide Volcano (300m, M5R, AI4+), and it is definitely one of the highest-quality alpine climbs I’ve ever done in the Cascades (as are the Cosely-Houston and the Polish Route).

Colin starting up the Cosely-Houston.

Colin starting up the Cosely-Houston.

Sarah low on the Cosely-Houston.

Sarah low on the Cosely-Houston.

Colin climbing the crux pitch of the Cosely-Houston.

Colin climbing the crux pitch of the Cosely-Houston.

Sarah on the descent off the backside of Colfax Peak.

Sarah on the descent off the backside of Colfax Peak.

Colin hydrating and melting snow in a bergschrund at the Colfax-Kulshan col.

Colin hydrating and melting snow in a bergschrund at the Colfax-Kulshan col.

Sarah skinning up Kulshan, shortly before we turned around due to numb toes.

Sarah skinning up Kulshan, shortly before we turned around due to numb toes.

Sarah at the base of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Sarah at the base of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Colin starting up the first pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano, with a short section of unprotected M5.

Colin starting up the first pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano, with a short section of unprotected M5.

Colin near the top of the first pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Colin near the top of the first pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Some steep rock and free-hanging daggers to the left of Kimchi Suicide Volcano. I personally think this would be an appropriate place for bolts, if someone is motivated enough to do the work!

Some steep rock and free-hanging daggers to the left of Kimchi Suicide Volcano. I personally think this would be an appropriate place for bolts, if someone is motivated enough to do the work!

Colin starting up the second pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Colin starting up the second pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Colin near the top of the second pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Colin near the top of the second pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Sarah just finished with the second pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Sarah just finished with the second pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Sarah coming up the moderate third pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Sarah coming up the moderate third pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Colin heading out on the fourth pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Colin heading out on the fourth pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Entering a cool chimney on the fourth pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Entering a cool chimney on the fourth pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

Looking up the cool, and surprisingly easy, chimney on Kimchi Suicide Volcano. It turned to a natural tunnel at the top.

Looking up the cool, and surprisingly easy, chimney on Kimchi Suicide Volcano. It turned to a natural tunnel at the top.

Looking down the natural tunnel that pitch four climbs through.

Looking down the natural tunnel that pitch four climbs through.

Beautiful ambiance up on the north face of Colfax Peak!

Beautiful ambiance up on the north face of Colfax Peak!

Sarah nearing the top of the fourth pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano, our last belayed pitch. From here we simul-climbed easy slopes of snow and ice to the summit.

Sarah nearing the top of the fourth pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano, our last belayed pitch. From here we simul-climbed easy slopes of snow and ice to the summit.

A pretty sunset over the Fraser Valley on our way down from Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

A pretty sunset over the Fraser Valley on our way down from Kimchi Suicide Volcano.

The north face of Colfax Peak, showing Kimchi Suicide Volcano in red, the Polish Route in green, and the Cosely-Houston in purple. A week or two later another cool new route was climbed to the right of the Cosely-Houston.

The north face of Colfax Peak, showing Kimchi Suicide Volcano in red, the Polish Route in green, and the Cosely-Houston in purple. A week or two later another cool new route was climbed to the right of the Cosely-Houston.