Gorge Creek
North Cascades National Park
PNW Fest '07
Aug 13-19, 2007

Jane Arhart rappels the first big waterfall into the start of the Gorge.

After knocking back a few more Rockstars, (the official energy drink of the PNW Fest, despite the Arharts pleas for us to buy more beers) I was amped for the drive into the great North. The highlight of the night definitely came in Sedro-Woolley. I never realized how important the process of beer selection is. I mean, I live in Utah County, our beer sucks (so I've been told). But in Washington, you actually have a selection. And when beer-drinking Utahns get the chance to enjoy fine brews, they don't make any mistakes. Selection is deliberate. Footsteps are paced off one at a time, first to the left, then a pause, a moment for introspection, I presume. With options weighing, they shift back to the right, carefully eyeying up each six-pack, as if that lucky brew might be the last dance to fill out the night's card... The choices were endless. Hefewiezens. Pale Ales. Lagers. Pilsners. Stouts. Porters. I felt for my trip-mates. These decisions truly agonized the soul. And this was only Sedro-Woolley. Can you imagine the dilemma one might face in a real city? Despite the adverse conditions, the cooler was succesfully restocked, and it was time to call it a night. Gorge Creek awaited us for the morning.

The canyon itself is pretty short, maybe 300 or 400 yards. But man, does it pack a punch. The goods literally start within a few hundred yards of the North Cascades Highway, with a bridge that spans the deep gorge. We pulled up, and walked across the bridge to see what awaited us. What we saw put a smile on our faces. Big falls, lots of water, jam packed with wild obstacles, a true narrows section and enough noise to make your ears ring. In other words, it was perfect.

Tom on the entry rappel, just above the narrows and technical section. Bob catching some sun below.

Steven on rappel. This time his helmet is actually on straight. Must have been a good day.

The first waterfall tumbling down into the gorge, with Roger trying to stay dry.

The attempt to stay dry is futile, Roger you're gonna get wet man.

Looking back up at the waterfall, Bob on his way down.

Bob again.

The first two entry rappels deposit you on a wide ledge that overlooks the good stuff. Directly below, the water roars down 100 feet, under chokestones and through tight constrictions. To the right, a ledge, maybe 2 or 3 feet wide in places, a few inches wide in others, leads dowcanyon. This place can be tricky. Tom had been here once before, and the flow was too high, rendering the ledge impassable. But today, the flow was low, and the ledge gave passage. Tom went first, leading it out, setting a safety line for the rest of us. The moves aren't bad, save one. A bulge in the wall requires a rodeo saddle move out and around, with some nice air underneath. Good stuff.

Tom at the end of the ledge traverse, Steven on his way down.

Tom negotiating the ledge traverse. It is pretty straight forward, with just one move that made me uneasy.

Tom on his way down the two stage rappel.

Gorge 1 - Gorge 2 - Gorge 3

Snoqualmie - Denny - Gorge - Thornton - Cypress

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