North Cascades 1968 with the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh
9. The Whatcom Peak Climb

Whatcom Peak topographic The map at left shows our destination, Whatcom Peak.  This link shows the larger immediate area within our view during the climb.  The routes of the first day's hike and the second day's hike.

The maps are scanned from the Mt. Shuksan (1950) and Mt. Challenger (1953) 1:62,500 series USGS topographic maps of the State of Washington.  Here is the entire area of interest.  You can look at the Mt. Shuksan 1:24,000 series topographic map here.  Whatcom Peak can be found here

The first couple of days are a bit of a blur, considering that I am looking back over thirty-seven years that have elapsed since we were in the North Cascades.
The knife edge ridge leading to Whatcom Pak from Whatcom Pass September 1968 Here is the bottom portion of the route to Whatcom Peak, the knife-edge ridge running towards the upper right.  This mountain isn't all that high, but the summit is reputed to have great views.  The weather was too miserable for Mike and I to abandon our companions for the much more challenging trip across Challenger Glacier to Mt. Challenger, the most prominent peak  in the Pickett Range.  That would have taken two or three days.
Whatcom Pass camp the morining before our climb September 1968 Mike taking it easy the day before our climb ...
Challenger Glacier from Whatcom Pass September 1968 Mt. Challenger (snow- and glacier-covered in the distance) as seen from the beginning of our Whatcom Peak climb.

Here's a link to more recent, 1:24,000 scale topographic maps of the area around Mt. Challenger.

Here's an interesting article about a "grand tour" of the North Cascades, which includes Whatcom Pass and the mountains we could see during our climb of Whatcom Peak.
Composite view looking east from Whatcom Pass September 1968
What's impressive to me is that we are looking at so much exposed rock here, looking east from near Whatcom Pass.  At the right are the lower slopes of Whatcom Peak; in the distance lies Mt. Challenger.

These two images were made from slightly different vantage points, so there is obvious mismatch at the lower right, where the view is shown better in the preceding image.

Whatcom Peak September 1968
Whatcom Peak from near the start of our climb.
Looking across Challenger Glacier at Mts. Fury and Challenger
Looking across Whatcom Peak's small (!) glacier at the lower slopes of Mt. Challenger.
Glacial valley below Whatcom Peak September 1968
Really nice view of the glacial valley east of Whatcom Pass.

Challenger Glacier - Climbers crossing above crevasse September 1968
In the composite image above, there are climbers crossing Whatcom Peak's glacier and approaching us.  We could see them move.  Here's a closer view scanned from the same transparency.  The climbers are above the crevasse at the extreme upper right there.  The route to Whatcom Peak lies along the right-hand skyline, with the summit in the clouds at the highest point in the image.  These climbers reached Whatcom Pass before Mike and I returned from our climb of Whatcom Peak.  They were soaked and miserable, we were given to understand afterwards.  There's a double-wide image of them and the glacier here.
Whatcom Peak glacier and Mt. Fury from Whatcom September 1968
Here's another view of the glacier below Whatcom Peak and the show-covered upper reaches of Mt. Fury along the skyline.
Looking down into the head of the glacial valley below Whatcom Peak September 1968
Looking down across Whatcom's glacier into the head of the valley below.
Another great view of the head of the valley below Whatcom Peak A closer look at the valley above.
Mike on the way up Whatcom Peak September 1968
Mike taking a breather while I shoot pictures.  Look at the next image to see what Mike saw behind me.
Looking up the route to Whatcom Peak September 1968
Looking up from the same position as in the image above.
Mike looking into the valley below Whatcom Peak
Mike looking down into that splendid alpine valley below Whatcom Peak.
Spectre of the Brocken
Spectre of the Brocken.  That's my shadow with the ice-crystal halo around it.  The phenomenon is associated with a German mountain named "The Brocken."  The first linked image bears an eerie resemblance to mine ...

I found this "ghost" in several more images here and here while preparing this webpage.

Mt. Fury seen looking past Mt. Challenger September 1968
This is Mt. Fury (8288 feet) across the saddle (ca. 6250 feet) between Mt. Challenger and its unnamed subsidiary peak (7374 feet)  to the left.  I'm near the Whatcom Peak summit (7574 feet).   The relative elevations look OK to me.

Here's a link to more recent, 1:24,000 scale topographic maps in the area around Mt. Fury.
Summits of Whatcom Peak and Mt. Challenger September 1968
This may be Mt. Challenger seen through the clouds, judging from the snow leading nearly to its summit.
Looking back down the Whatcom Peak climbing route September 1968 Looking down at our route up Whatcom Peak.
Mike on belay - Whatcom Peak September 1968
Mike belaying me while I shoot pictures.

After this we had to speed up; and the clouds didn't afford many views.

Coming back down from Whatcom Peak September 1968
On the way back down from the summit of Whatcom Peak.  We made it back to camp late, feeling our way in the dark along the complex paths on Whatcom Pass.  Our companions came out to meet us with a little light.