East Wilman's Spire


Terry and I went up to the North Cascades to do East Wilman's Spire. We brought mountain bikes to take care of the first four miles which are on an abandoned road leading to Monte Cristo - itself an abandoned mining town. We carried in all the water we'd need for the trip as there are reports of arsenic from the mines.

The ride in was pretty fun, inluding a log walk over the clearest water I've ever seen. We got a nice campsite just outside of the 'town' itself and made dinner and a fire, well, Terry boiled water and made the fire - I ate a candy bar in support.
We aimed for a leisurely start and got moving around 6:30. The hike into the basin was fairly tame except for sections of some scrambling over large steps. There were lots of relics from the old mines and trams - hundreds of feet of cabling and sluice pipes. I can't imagine hauling all of that equipment up, it was hard enough to carry in my 2 granola bars.
At the route of the gully leading to the spire we helmeted up and started up one of two snow fields. Inbetween the two fields was a crappy section of scree, which took a long time to scratch up. Perhaps a few weeks earlier in the year would be better as one could go up the whole way on snow. The snow field was fairly steep and we roped up in case the bridge was thin.


After some more scree fields we made it to the proper start of the climb and put away our boots in favor of climbing shoes. Terry was nice enough to do all of the leading. As someone else has stated for similar situations - I forgot my man pants at home.
Terry made short work of the two chossy pitches and we were presently on the top slab. The views were awesome and we hung out for a bit admiring it all. I didn't want to break up the pattern so Terry headed down on rappel. We had to be uber careful to not knock down any of the choss during our rappels and down climbing. Once back safely at the base of the climb we put away the tight shoes and laced up our boots for the hike down.

Way out

While normally one would think of the climb as being the most perilous part of the trip; we found that the scree field is the part to worry about. Terry discovered the field's angle of repose the hard way by triggering a small slide that contained a very large boulder. As with most scary events, everything kind of blurs and doesn't seem real. It looked like Terry got pushed over by the boulder (about the size of a fridge), got rolled over by the boulder and then started cartwheeling down the slope. Luckily there was a beginning of a snow field that stopped his fall and he was able to stabilize himself.

I stood for a few moments while he slid down the slope trying to hit as many rocks as possible. After we determined he wasn't dead I scooted down on my ass until I could traverse over to him without making things worse - the theme of the rest of the day. When I got to him, he had already figured his legs weren't broken. His shirt was ripped and he had large scrapes on his chest and shoulder so we did a check to make sure nothing was out of place and no obvious bleeding. I found his elbow was bleeding a fair amount - in reality not bleeding much, but compared to a ripped hangnail it looked like something. I cleaned it up with tiny iodine wipes and then slapping a Tegaderm patch on top.
After giving him a handful of Advil and some Chomps, we walked over to the top of the snow field to sort things out. We thought about trying to rappel down the snow field but it didn't look too positive so we planned on downclimbing. I put all of the gear into my pack so Terry would just carry his lightened pack. I went first to kick big steps to help him get down with minimal fuss. We took our time so that we wouldn't make any mistakes.

By the time we reached the trail proper, Terry's arm and shoulder felt better and he was able to cruise along down the smooth path. I cleaned his elbow again, put some bandages on his head cuts and we shared a chocolate bar that had hidden itself in my pack. Once back at camp we guzzled the rest of our water, ate some advil, then loaded up the packs for the ride out. It was super nice to be able to coast downhill on our bikes. At the car we quickly got our gear in so we could book it to a hospital to have a professional clean his elbow.
We got into an urgent care facility in Everett where Terry's elbow got irrigated and stitched up with 3 sutures, but nothing broken and no concussion. After that and a detour to an Olive Garden for endless breadsticks, we took the long drive home.


Camp to basin: 1:30
Basin to notch: 2:00
Notch to summit: 1:00
Summit to basin: 3:00
Basin to camp: 2:00
Camp to car: :35

Panoramic Photos