Route: Infinite Bliss (5.10c, 2600 ft, 23p, "sport", late spring conditions)

TR #: 65

Category: Washington (I-90)       Top-out Elev: ~4,500 ft      Rock Type: Granodiorite

Partner: Tom Penoyar

This 23-pitch sport climb is somewhat controversial since it is on a North Cascades peak. I don't want to see bolts popping up on any other alpine summits, but this was a fun full day climb nonetheless


The Route

(Click on image to enlarge)

Nice topo.


17 draws (we brought 30 for simulclimbing)
2 60 m ropes

Getting There

The trailhead is about 1 hour from Seattle. To get there, leave I-90 at Exit 34 (East of North Bend) and turn East on Edgewick Road. Follow this road 0.4 miles to a stop sign, then turn right on SE Middle Fork Road, which becomes Forest Service Road no. 56. Drive 12.3 miles to the Middle Fork-Taylor River road junction which is just after the Taylor River bridge. Turn Right onto no. 5620 and drive 1 mile to a 5-car pulloff. The trailhead is 100-200 yds further down the road on the left. Hike steeply uphill to the base of the route, 30 minutes if fast. Now, just look for bolts....


With my final final exam of the year over and a good forecast for the next day, I thought it'd be fun to climb Infinite Bliss, a 23 pitch bolted climb (crux 10c) on Mt. Garfield's West Peak. This impressively long route climbs roughly 2600 vertical feet, and is claimed to be the longest "sport" climb in North America (although I would call the route "bolt-protected" rather than "sport", since it is not a sport climb in the typical sense of the word). This climb has been a topic of contention among alpine climbers. I certainly do not want bolts to become a norm on North Cascades peaks, but this was not going to keep me from climbing a route that sounded like a lot of fun!

The main crux of Infinite Bliss would be finding a partner on only 10 hours notice. Fortunately, my friend Tom was easily convinced. Thanks Tom!

Since we were organizing gear and printing topos until 1am, we got a somewhat leisurely start. At 8am, I picked up Tom and we left Seattle for North Bend. A bridge washout on Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road about a mile before the trailhead put a slight hitch in our schedule, but we shimmied down a convenient tree and were at the base of Infinite Bliss an hour later. A line of bolts stretched out in front of us. With our 30 quick draws, we simulclimbed much of the route (besides around 6 pitches of 5.9 to 5.10c). The harder pitches were fun and well-bolted. From the base to the summit took us 5.5 hours. Just under 15 minutes per pitch, not bad!

We made good time on this route, and had a fun climb. Here are some photos and brief descriptions for this trip report.

8:00am - Leave Seattle.
9:00am - Park car at washed-out bridge on Middle Fork Road just before Taylor River Bridge.
10:00am - Arrive at base of route (extra mile from bridge washout to trailhead).
10:20am - Start climbing!
3:50pm - Arrive at summit 5.5 hours later (~ 15 min/pitch).
4:10pm - Start rappelling.
6:50pm - Get to bottom of route just over 2.5 hours later.
8:00pm - Arrive back at car.
9:30pm - Back in Seattle.
Taylor River Bridge on Middle Fork Road was washed out, so we had an extra mile to hike to the trailhead.
The trail cuts off left into the forest about 1 mile from the bridge. You can see the trail wrapping around the right side of the tree in this photo.
We brought 30 draws, as we planned on simulcimbing much of the route. The most bolts on a single pitch is 17.
Starting up the route, 2600 vertical feet of granite to go! We simulclimbed the first 10 pitches (5.4 to 5.9), up until the 5.10b pitch.
Ah, that's what they are for....
Pitch 8, 5.5 up a fun blocky ramp.
Pitch 11, a well-bolted and fun balancy 5.10b. (Photo taken on descent.)
We simulclimbed Pitches 12-18 (5.0 to 5.8). A few of the easier 5.0 pitches did not have any bolts, so we got a bit off track, but headed for the 5.10c ad 5.10a pitches we could identify of the steeper final headwall. Just look for a continuous line of bolts stretching to the top!
Pitch 21, a 10a chimney. Perhaps we were getting tired, but I found this pitch to be the hardest of the route.
At the top of Pitch 21.
Some steep headwalls nearby.
Tom on the final part of Pitch 23 (last pitch!), a fun and airy (again, well-bolted) 5.9. The 2600 vertical feet of granite stretches below. And we have to go all the way back down that!
Looking over at the true summit of Mt Garfield from the top of Infinite Bliss.
Beginning the 2.5 hour rappel down. The route requires 2 60m ropes to rappel, as most pitches are pretty long.
The view towards North Bend.
Tom walking back up the log, making it look easy.
Look closely, is that a bicycle?! I think some unfortunate soul was trying to zip-line it across the washout.....
I won the dirty car contest at the trailhead.