Alpine Rock - Grade III+ 5.8, approximately 16 pitches

Standing alone on the opposite side of the valley from Liberty Bell, Cutthroat peak rises dramatically above the beautiful alpine meadows near Washington Pass.  While there are a number of popular routes on this peak, the classic is surely the South Buttress.  The South Buttress of Cutthroat is a long, moderate route that weaves a clever path through slabs, overhangs and chimneys up the sunny, broad buttress of this major peak.  While none of the climbing is too difficult, this is a long route that requires good fitness and the ability to move quickly over low to mid fifth class rock.  


Depending on the time of year, the approach can be made in approach shoes or mountain boots and will take around 2 hours.  The climb begins with several hundred feet of scrambling up the approach gully that culminates with a steep pitch of low fifth class that ends on right on the ridge crest at the base of the buttress.  From there, many short pitches of low fifth class climbing with a couple of harder pitches thrown in, lead up to the false summit.  From here, a short descent, and then a couple of final airy pitches lead to the true summit.

Getting down offers a couple of descent options; either down the west ridge via several rappels and a lot of downclimbing, or via more than a dozen rappels back down the South Buttress.  The latter offers the advantage of allowing climbers to cache gear and/or shoes at the base of the technical climbing, though the former is probably a little faster.  Either way, the South Buttress always makes for a full day of climbing in a spectacular setting with far fewer crowds than many of its more popular neighbors. 

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    Jeff Ward

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Skills Required

Previous multi-pitch climbing experience with the ability to climb up to 5.8 in rock shoes.