5/2/15 – Jens Holsten and Vern Nelson Jr. have climbed a new route on the north face of Argonaut Peak in Washington’s Stuart Range and dedicated it to the late Chad Kellogg. Holsten was with Kellogg when he was killed by rockfall while descending from the summit of Fitz Roy in February 2014.
Argonaut (8,453 feet) is much less often climbed than its well-known neighbors, such as Dragontail and Stuart. But Holsten and Nelson had become intrigued with the possibility of a spring-season mixed route on the steep north face. “We had tried the route several times over the past two years, always hoping for magical conditions that would allow us passage,” Holsten wrote at his Facebook page.
Though conditions last Sunday, April 26, were “marginal,” Holsten said, “my heart and mind were in a different spot. I've struggled to climb in the mountains since Chad died beside me, but this past week I felt a different vibe…. I committed myself to sections of climbing that had previously scared me and found a focus that I thought I had lost.”
Their route had seven new pitches left of the existing summer routes on the north face, then crossed the Northeast Buttress to steep snow climbing leading to the summit ridge, followed by “airy scrambling” to the top. “We climbed sections of AI4, an M6 R crux pitch, and an aid pitch on a final unexpected headwall that forced me to do a wild tension traverse,” Holsten wrote. “This route marked a progression for me in what I look at as a mixed/ice line. I really hope I can take what I've learned and seek out steep, difficult mixed lines on other, prouder peaks in the Cascades and elsewhere. Most importantly, this route was about healing...climbing is deeper than sport.”
From the top they could see the upper northeast face of Mt. Stuart, where Colin Haley and Dylan Johnson had established the Lara Kellogg Memorial Route in 2007, following the death of Chad Kellogg’s wife, Lara, on Mt. Wake in Alaska in 2006.
“Vern and I are calling our line the Chad Kellogg Memorial Route, and it makes me happy that Lara's and Chad's namesake routes will gaze lovingly at one another from here on out,” Holsten said.
Date of ascent: April 26, 2015
Sources: Jens Holsten, Facebook.com/jens.holsten