I had always wanted to climb the Leuthold Couloir, an apparent Pacific Northwest classic, but being a grade II climb I just never really got around to it. When we saw a 2 day weather window open up, we made the call to shoot for the Leuthold Couloir with a camp at Illumination Rock. It would be a little easy, but hey, it’s supposed to be a classic.[...]
The Pearly Gates route is a route usually deemed for beginners during the spring and summer. However, when undertaken during the winter, the route really takes on an elevated level of seriousness. Trail breaking, steep hard blue ice, and high winds, all make for what I consider a Cascade classic.
We got a nice late start at 5am to begin our approach up to the base of the Fuhrer Finger. We had blue skies overhead, but the weather forecast upgraded our possibility of storms from “slight chance” to just regular “chance”. Across the horizon, Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens were already covered with storm clouds as well. Taking a chance on the “chance”, we made the call to move up. If a storm did start to come in, we’d just have to figure something out.[...]