Graduates of the Mazamas Basic Climbing Education Program (BCEP) and those with less experience might consider the following peaks when applying for climbs. You can get additional details on the climbs by clicking on a climb in the calendar and viewing the Details tab.
Snow & Scramble Climbs
South Sister — Most south side routes (Green Lakes, Devil’s Lake) Totally non-technical. This climb can take from 4 to 7 hours from base camp or from the car. A lot of scree and, depending on the time of year, some snow. No glacier travel required. The summit crater is beautiful. Note that there are limits on camping at Green Lakes. You must obtain a permit from a ranger station.
Goat Rocks — (Old Snowy, Ives Peak) This wilderness is located about 50 miles north of Mt. Adams. Beautiful base camp in the most beautiful of alpine meadows. The ascent of Old Snowy is totally non-technical; completing the traverse south to Ives Peak may involve some rock scrambling and scree crawling, and possibly some steep snow. Gilbert Peak, the highest of the Goat Rocks peaks, is an easy ascent, but requires some serious route-finding and traversing on scree and rotten rock or on moderately steep snow.
Mt. Adams, South Side — This climb requires endurance and stamina to climb to over 12,000 feet, higher than any Oregon peak. There is no glacier travel on the South Side route, but there can be a good amount of snow and possibly scree late season. You will need ice axe and crampon skills; there can be great glissading in early season. Climber fee is required. Usually done as a pack-in, with a bivouac at around 9400 ft., but hardy souls can do it as a day climb.
Mt. St. Helens — (Swift Creek, Monitor Ridge) One of the lower and technically easier glaciated peaks in the Pacific NW, but still a strenuous climb as the starting elevation is relatively low. The peak is often underestimated; exposure and route finding challenges in low visibility can make this peak as serious as any in the Northwest. There is a permit system in place to climb with a limited number available between May 15 through October 31.
Middle Sister, North Ridge — (Hayden Glacier, Renfrew Glacier) These are short climbs from a base camp or lengthy ones from the trailhead. They involve a certain amount of glacier travel (with crevasses on the Hayden Glacier). The last 1,000 feet may be ice, snow, or scree. One of the most beautiful summit views in the Cascades. Late season ascents of the boulders of the southwest flank require only good boots and endurance.
Diamond Peak – Located south of Willamette Pass, this very scenic peak is a good day climb. Early season may involve moderately steep snow – late season on some routes have endless tedious scree.
Mt. Thielsen — This peak is located a bit north of Crater Lake. It has a short, easy approach and some 4th to easy 5th class rock climbing at the top. Looks harder than it is.
Broken Top — This is one of the easiest ways to become a Mazama member, since it can be climbed in 2.5 hours from base camp and has a qualifying glacier on its flank. Very straightforward scramble, with one 8-foot belayed pitch. The best scree descent in the Cascades. This climb can be done in conjunction with South Sister, from the same base camp.
Tatoosh Peaks — These are a series of 6- 7000 foot summits along the south border of Mt. Rainier National Park. A favorite is the traverse of three of them - Plummer, Pinnacle, Castle, involving easy to moderate rock climbing, and readily done in a short day. Fantastic views of Rainier. Other Tatoosh summits such as Eagle and Chutla are little more than extended day hikes with some 4th-class scrambling at the top.
Unicorn Peak — Located a few miles east of the Tatoosh Traverse, Unicorn is an excellent short day climb; in early season it combines a trail approach, boulder hopping, steep snow, and tops out with a short, easy belayed pitch to the top.
More Challenging Routes
These may be harder to get on as first year climbers, but should present no technical problems if you’ve done well with BCEP level activities. These routes often involve some exposure.
Three Fingered Jack, South Ridge — Located near Santiam Pass. This is a good rock climb for adventurous alumni who enjoyed themselves at Horsethief Butte. There are two belayed pitches which are more scary than difficult. Lots of rotten rock and exposure.
Mt. Washington, North Ridge — A good day climb from Big Lake CG (same base camp as for Three Finger Jack.) It consists of a long ridge ascent, one good belayed pitch, and a scramble on the spacious summit block. For the most part, the rock is excellent. There’s an airy rappel.
Mt. Adams, Mazama Glacier — long pack in, excellent high camp, steep glacier, great views. One of the most rewarding of Cascade climbs for the effort involved.
Mt. Hood, West Crater Rim — less crowded, more sporting variant of South Side. Requires stable snow conditions, but well worth it.
Mt. Shuksan, Sulphide Glacier — lots of glacier, excellent rock scramble on top; a long day climbing after a long day pack-in to base camp.
Mt. Jefferson, South Ridge — This route is technically easiest; long pack in to base camp and a sometimes very lengthy snow traverse on very steep terrain. Permits are required for the south side approaches.
Wait for Next Year
Most routes on these peaks would be best to put off until you have accumulated more experience. Some are very popular, and it would be difficult for a first-year climber to get accepted for them.
Mt. Rainier, (Disappointment Cleaver or Emmons Glacier) — high and far (9,000 feet of elevation gain in two days), much in demand. Serious glacier travel, complete with crevasses. Not much air at the top.
Mt. Stuart – even the easier routes have very long approaches, a very long day of climbing.
Mt. Shuksan, Fisher Chimneys — long, sometimes treacherous; scary in places. Not for the faint-hearted.
Mt. Baker — long approaches, some routes are hard, lots of glacier travel.
Mt. Shasta — very long, very high, far from here. Last 1500 ft are a real killer.
Mt. Olympus — 44 mile round trip; has bare glacier ice, crevasses, rock summit. Spectacular climb, but a serious undertaking.
Glacier Peak — long approaches, lots of glacier travel. Beautiful base camp.
North Sister — has some very steep, sometimes icy, traverses, rockfall and other objective hazards.
Mt. Hood, Sunshine — very steep in places, long and intimidating, but beautiful. Normal descent is down the south side route.