Father Dyer Peak
Father Dyer Peak above Lower Crystal Laek
I wanted to climb Father Dyer Peak again for a mountain page that I intended to submit to summitpost.org. I had no good photos for the page, and I also wanted to try out a route I had on my list for some time. Hidden in Gerry Roach's 13ers Guidebook in the Crystal Peak section is a route on Father Dyer called Dyer Straits. It's a snow climb followed by a short scramble to the summit. I decided to check it out.
I parked my car at about 6:00 am at the Aqueduct Road Gate trailhead. After walking the road briefly, I soon turned onto the Wheeler Trail, traversed around the eastern part of Mount Helen, and crossed a raging creek to enter the lower part of the Crystal Creek drainage. Father Dyer Peak soon came into view above the 4x4 road to Lower Crystal Creek.
I soon found myself at Lower Crystal Creek, where I took a old mining road that leads toward the north side of Mount Helen. After a short time on the old road, I cut straight through a large boulder field on the way to the snow climb to the Father Dyer - Mount Helen ridge.
After crossing the tedious boulder field, I finally found continuous snow that would take me to the snow climb. The snow was frozen solid and icy, and even though it was low-angled, I still had to don my crampons and get my ice axe out. At the base of the snow climb, I had three options to the ridge. The center snow finger looked to be the steepest and most direct, so I decided to try that one.
Already wearing my crampons and ice axe, I started up the snow. The angle was fairly low at the bottom, but increased steadily until I was about 50 feet below the ridge, where it increased to a maximum of about 45-50 degrees. The angle was probably a little more because of cornicing at the edge. The cornice wasn't really dangerous, it just made the slope to the ridge a little steeper. I topped out on the ridge and packed away my crampons and axe.
A short ridge run to the final scramble awaited me. I walked the rest of the ridge to just below the Class 3 section and studied the route ahead.
The enjoyable summit block of Father Dyer Peak
Staying close to the ridge proper would be dangerous because of the sheer cliffs on the side. As I got closer, I realized that it would be a little easier if I stayed about 10 feet from the edge of the ridge. The climbing was still Class 2+ at this point. The crux of the route was about 20 feet below the summit. A large wall of rock prevented easy access. The wall required a mantling move to ascend the wall. I found a nice crack system with good holds to help out in this part. After the crux, it was a quick scramble to the small and satisfying summit.
I hung out on the summit for a little while, took some photos, and then decided to head down. I basically reversed my ascent route. The crux move was a little tough in reverse, as a fall would have had me tumbling over jagged and loose rock for about 50 feet. I took my time and ensured my holds were solid. Back to the ridge, I got a quick glissade down my snow ascent path and then walked out the remainder of the snow and boulder fields.
The rest of my descent was uneventful, except for a cool talk I had with two guys from Scotland who were hiking to Lower Crystal Lake.
All in all, I was really glad I decided to try this route. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it to anyone. It's really fun, and one of the best of the Tenmile, in my opinion.
Me on top of Father Dyer Peak