Dean Lords and Brian Wood climbed a route on the northwest face of Bell mountain in early June, 2002. They took advantage of a cold snap and climbed several moderate pitches of thin water ice in the 'left gully' on the NW Face. Some mixed rock and ice and a few easy 4/5th class pitches up the rib dividing the left gully from the right gully. While this face may have been climbed before little is know about the line of the original climb. Dean and Brian call this very seasonal route "Hells Bells".
`Hells Bells' Northwest Face II WI3, M3+
Bell Mountain 11,612
Dean Lords, Brian Wood, June `02
The Northwest Face of Bell Mountain is cut by two large gully systems, separated by a large steep fin or ridge. Hells Bells ascends the left gully and the upper section of the center ridge to where it connects with the North Ridge. This route is very temporary and requires specific spring conditions to form. On our ascent we found ice between 1to 2½ inches in thickness.
Approach via Bell Mountain Creek (Basinger Canyon) or Black Creek Canyon to a point directly below the Northwest Face. Ascend steep snow to the bottom of the left hand gully, which is at this point a very narrow couloir. Climb a few hundred feet up this lower portion on moderate steps of thin ice mixed with some rock scrambling. A small ledge system is reached at the base of the crux pitch. Ascend a thin flow of water ice and some tricky mixed climbing (WI 3, M3+) and back into the couloir. Climb this winding section of couloir for one and a half rope lengths on thin water ice to where the couloir opens up into a wide bowl. Climb up and right to the crest of the central ridge. The rest of the climb ascends this ridge and includes some fun exposed rock climbing to where it connects with the North Ridge. Follow the North Ridge a few hundred feet to the summit.
Descent is made via the Southwest Gully.
KEN JONES OF NEWCASTLE, WA. writes: Bell Mountain, 11,612' (July 28, 2001). Your west face description says to start about 6,400'. This is out on the flats below the base of the west ridge - is this a typo?
We drove up Basinger Canyon to the old mines at 7,600' and climbed to the ridge from here. Your description to "climb the middle rib" led my partner to some more exposed sections; I avoided the exposure (and felt the climb could be rated class 2 to 3) by moving right into the next chute each time the rock I was on got steeper (two or three times). On Bell Mountain, I understand that it might be climbed from the mouth of Basinger Canyon. But I'd estimate the starting elevation there as more like 6,650' or 6,700' than the 6,400' you describe. The route we used started near the mapped bend in the road (two-track) at about 7,600'. We started up the gully that drains from 10,201', then traversed onto the ridge to its west, which we followed to the main west ridge of Bell. We followed this ridge per your description, passing two rocky prominences (the first had perhaps the toughest - class 3 - climbing on the route). For the last 600', we headed straight at the peak. On two or three occasions, the area I was climbing got steeper and more exposed; in each case I returned to easier terrain by traversing to the right into another chute. These chutes were basically class 2 to 3 climbing; in the Cascades they would be rated class 2. On the way down, we took the ridge that heads directly NW from 10,201', traversing rightat about 9,400' into a gully which we followed to Bell Mountain Creek. The woods on all these ridges appeared to be pretty open, and I expect you can make a reasonable route from wherever you can get your vehicle to up Basinger Canyon.