Ptarmigan Traverse

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The view from Cascade Pass, at the northern end of the traverse. Beyond Cascade Pass the route is a challenging, trail-less mountaineering endeavor.
A portion of the southern Ptarmigan Traverse, looking east: route climbs the LeConte Glacier (left edge of photo), traverses around the west side of Sentinel Peak (dark pyramidal peak, left-center), descends to the South Cascade Glacier (center), ascends to ridge at top of the glacier (right-center), and crosses over to the White Rock Lakes.
Dome Peak at the southern end of the traverse

The Ptarmigan Traverse is a famous alpine climbing route in Washington State's North Cascades. The route, from Cascade Pass to Dome Peak, is generally remote, unmarked, and challenging, traversing rugged terrain and several glaciers.


The first traverse took 13 days in July 1938. The group consisted of four members of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club: Bill Cox, Calder Bressler, Ray W. Clough, and Tom Myers. The second traverse was in 1953 and consisted of Dale Cole, Bob Grant, Mike Hane, Erick Karlsson and Tom Miller. Miller took high-quality photos of the peaks, valleys, glaciers, and lakes, which were later published in a book by The Mountaineers. The book, called The North Cascades, was published in 1964 and proved instrumental in the bid to create the North Cascades National Park.

The route is named after the alpine bird of the same name. The "p" is silent and is pronounced "TAR-mig-an".

Coleman Leuthy and others made the third successful traverse of the route in the late 1950s. Today the route is a common goal of Cascade Range mountaineers.


Place names are listed from north to south:

Cascade Pass area[edit]

Middle Cascade area[edit]

South Cascade area[edit]

Dome area[edit]