Lago Group Top 100 Peaks (all 8)
Lago Group Top 100 Peaks (all 8)
Page Type: Trip Report
Washington, United States, North America
48.82690°N / 120.5382°W
Lago Group Top 100 Peaks (all 8)
Aug 19, 2001
Created/Edited: Mar 7, 2003 /
Object ID: 168840
Page Score: 70.83%
- 1 Votes
Vote: Log in to vote
There are a myriad of ways to go about giving beta for a weeklong trip. There's just too much to be done to make it a short write-up. So, with that in mind, I am going to present this in three ways:
1st: How I was intending to do it as written in my itinerary
2nd: How I actually did it
3rd: How I would have done things differently (or other useful information)
My original itinerary:
Saturday 8/18/01: drive up to Harts Pass Road and car camp at Slate Pass (at or near second road switchback)
Sunday: hike in to first camp at pass east of Fred's Lake. Climb Osceola Peak
Monday: move camp over to Shellrock Pass. Climb Mt. Carru and possibly Mt. Lago on way over
Tuesday: Climb Ptarmigan Peak to the north either via Ptarmigan Creek or along ridge leading north from Mt. Lago. If, in climbing Carru, I notice that the ridge traverse is possible, I will opt to save Lago for Tuesday instead of Monday and climb it on the way over to Ptarmigan
Wednesday: Climb Lost Peak east of Shellrock Pass
Thursday: Climb Lake Mountain and Monument Peak (and possibly Blackcap Mountain time permitting)
Friday: Climb Blackcap Mountain if not climbed the day before. Afterward, move camp somewhere closer to trailhead. This may mean I'll go down Eureka Creek or go back over by Fred's Lake. There is supposedly a trail that goes up from Eureka Creek past Ferguson Lake and back down to the Pasayten River Trail. If I don't see this trail on the way in, I probably won't go back via Eureka Creek. Also, if I'm a day late coming out, I'll probably go out the way I came in via Fred's Lake
Saturday 8/25: hike back out to trailhead
This gives me an extra day in case of weather and/or other problems.
What I actually did:
I was early in getting ready for this trip so wound up driving over ahead of schedule to the trailhead (Buckskin Ridge Trail at second switchback). I arrived at 3:00PM. It's a pretty narrow road leading to Harts Pass with lots of sightseers driving ridiculously slow. I wanted to see how far I could get before darkness set in. My goal was to make it down the Pasayten River to the junction with trail 474 just south of Berk Creek. From Slate Pass (the trailhead; 6900 ft), the trail drops down the north side of the pass and shortly arrives at the junction that goes down to the Middle Fork Pasayten. From there, the trail lollygags back and forth before finally proceeding NNE toward the valley bottom. Massive Robinson Mountain looms to the east. The trail goes around a horse camp and meets up with Robinson Creek Trail No. 478 in a meadow east of the horse camp. This probably took 1.5 hours to get to. A little further on in the woods, the side-trail to Ferguson Lake junctions off (it's not marked but still obviously the trail). After that, the trail goes on for what seems like an eternity (4.5 miles) before reaching the junction with trail 474 leading to Fred's Lake. It took me 3.5 hours to get that far (95% downhill to 5000 ft). There is a camp area 100 yards beyond the junction at the creek. I camped here for Saturday night. Earplugs were handy to dull the incessant noise of the nearby creek.
The next day (Sunday) I went up to the pass SE of Fred's Lake (7,100 ft). I've read it's called Fred's Pass but it's not listed as such on maps. From here you'll get your first view of Monument and Blackcap (and Rolo, which would be a good diversion if time permitted on the way out and would provide an excellent view of the big peaks around there). I wish I had climbed Mt. Rolo now that I think about it. A little farther on, the trail goes around a hillside and you get your first views of Osceola, Carru, Lago, and a peeking Lost Peak in the distance. You can also see Shellrock Pass (7,500 ft). To your NW is Lake Doris. A trail leads down to the lake (good camping here). Now, I knew I wanted to climb Osceola that day so I decided to drop down east of Lake Doris and angle up toward the south foot of the peak. The going was easy. At ~7,400 ft when I could finally go no farther around the mountain because it was dropping away into the depression between it and Pt. 7923, I stopped, unlade my pack of most things (stashing food in a tree) and made a bee line up the south slope of Osceola: scrub trees and rocky at first (class 2) then all medium-sized talus above (still class 2). No exposure problems. There is no need to take technical gear up Osceola. It's just a pile of rocks. No summit register, oddly enough. Probably took me 30 minutes to climb to the summit and then half that to get back down to my stash. IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION: from the summit, I could see what appeared to be a snowpatch just SSW of Shellrock Pass at about the same level of the pass (look for larch trees and a green patch amidst the pink porphyry). It looked like a good place to get water if camping at the pass. I had wondered about the availability of water at the pass. I only wish I had taken a filter, but more on that later.
After reloading my pack, I dropped into the aforementioned depression and made an angling traverse down toward the trail leading across to Shellrock Pass. The terrain turned out to be steep grassy slopes interspersed with boscages. I could see the trail below so aimed for it. Since I was a half-day ahead of schedule, I decided to camp at Shellrock Pass on Sunday night. When I arrived at the aforementioned snowpatch, I liked what I saw: both a supply of water (scummy meltwater at the patch, thus the need for a filter) and a flat grassy bench next to the patch on which to camp. DON'T GO ON TO THE PASS EXPECTING TO FIND BETTER CAMPSITES. THERE ARE NONE BETTER. IT'S NOT WORTH LUGGING YOUR GEAR OVER THERE (takes 10 minutes to get there from snowpatch). I camped at the snowpatch. The water was indeed scummy, so I decided to scrape the hard snow for water. I knew I needed to fill up my 6-liter storage platypus somewhere (perhaps the next day while coming back from a day-climb). To your south is Blackcap Mountain and Monument Peak beyond. The easiest route up Blackcap is directly up the East Ridge from the obvious saddle. This ridge is the continuation of the ridge of Shellrock Pass. If it's not dark yet, take the time to scramble up to the ridge crest east of the snowpatch (if you camp at the pass, which I recommend since it's an excellent staging area for climbing the Big Boys). Five minutes to scramble up to the ridge. On the other side, you'll see Lost Peak in the distance. I went up to the ridge and tried to decide how I was going to climb Lost Peak. Beckey says to climb up from Monument Creek (at the 5,400 ft level?), but this appeared to me to be less enjoyable than to approach it via Butte Pass and Pass Butte. From the ridge crest, you can see Lake Mountain to the SSE. If you go south along the ridge to the high point you will be able to see the granite escarpment separating the Blackcap-Monument Basin and the Monument-Lake Basin.
On Monday morning I decided to climb Lost Peak. My original intention was to only climb that peak that day. My route plan was to go via Butte Pass and Pass Butte (yes, I thought the naming was funny too) and do a ridge traverse over to Lost. This seemed a darn-sight more aesthetic than dropping down into Monument Creek then trudging up 3,000+ feet of rough terrain and/or scree. I always prefer ridge traverses where available. The trail from Shellrock Pass drops down into the basin, crosses Monument Creek, and junctions with the trail leading up to Butte Pass. From there I continued on the trail as it follows the ridge eastward until it finally started down into Ptarmigan Creek. Here I left the trail and climbed up to Pt. 7275. From this high point, I was able to see it was going to be an easy ascent up the west side of Pass Butte. By picking my way up through scrub trees, I avoided the scree slopes on the right. To the left of the scrub trees it's a no-go due to cliffs. In no-time I made the ridge between Pt. 8211 and Pass Butte (Pt. 8140). From there it was an easy ridge scramble over to Lost Peak. Again, no need for technical gear so leave it at camp. Probably took me 1.5 hours from Pt. 7275 to Lost Peak's summit. Again, no register. It was while I was at the summit that I hatched an idea to climb Blackcap Mountain on my way back over. I had my reasons: instead of going back via Shellrock Pass, why not go back via the valley draining the eastern cirque of Blackcap and Monument. That way, I could a) check out the granite escarpment leading up to the basin between Monument and Lake (since it looks really imposing from a distance), b) fill up my platypus in the creek high up in the valley, and c) climb Blackcap while on my way back to camp since camp and peak are so close to one another. From the summit, I spied what appeared to be a viable way up the granite escarpment in the corner of the basin just under the NE side of Monument where a glacier used to be (now only a moraine). There were also some other ways up farther down the escarpment toward Lake Mountain, but these lead you away from Monument.
So I descended the south then southwest slopes of Lost Peak into the obvious basin/gully. Wonderful downclimbing scree! The fastest downclimbing there is—the type of stuff you know would be miserable to ascend through. Boy was I glad I went over to Lost via Pass Butte! DEFINITELY GO THE WAY I DID. After going down to about 6,000 ft, I started a downward traverse to the west through forest slopes (crossing the stream draining south from Pass Butte enroute). I was aiming for the wye in the creek at 5,400 ft (right fork to Shellrock Pass and left fork to the aforementioned eastern basin). I did a pretty good job, since I met the trail at ~5,300 ft and soon found the wye thereafter by hopping from rock to rock along the creek. This rock hopping was extremely fun and much more interesting than going through the mildly-bushwhacky forest. So, when I got to the wye, I followed the creek by rock hopping for about a mile. It probably took me a little longer but it was worth the fun of it. I played a game: the creek kept trying to impede my progress by throwing up barriers or removing stepping-stones, so it was my duty to dispatch the creek. If I fell in or put a foot in, I lost. The game was also over if I strayed from the creek by more than 6 feet. I finally got bored when the forested terrain became much more open and thus amenable to fast travel. I beat the creek, hah hah! No watery end, though there were a few close calls.
When the valley opened up and the trees ended, a rocky knoll appeared and so I promptly went up to the top of it. Beyond the knoll, boulders carried on to a rock band dead ahead. Fortunately, this band can be surmounted on either side. I took the bouldery leftward gully (in part to swing past the granite escarpment to scout out ways up it). At the top of the bouldery gully to the left was a very steep gully that would definitely provide a way into and out of the Monument-Lake basin. But I did not want to use that gully unless I had to. I was hoping to use the place I had spied from Lost Peak—the one by the moraine. Above the rock band the terrain changes over to low-angle slabs and heather meadows. Marmots and pikas abound here. I filled up my platypus a little worried about marmot feces and lugged it up to the aforementioned obvious saddle below the East Ridge of Blackcap. While trekking over to the saddle, I looked left at the granite escarpment. FROM A DISTANCE, the way up next to the moraine looked simple enough. I decided that would be my way to gain the basin rim.
I left my pack at the saddle with all my food in it (figuring I wouldn't be gone long enough for critters to get at it) and made for Blackcap's summit armed with only my camera and a Tootsie Roll. Traveling this light, I scrambled the class 3/4 ridge and made the summit in 0.5 hours. One could go up the East Face, but it's loose and probably unpleasant. The ridge was very aesthetic and only loose here and there. If you've left behind your technical gear, you won't have it with you to do this peak, but I really don't think you'll need it if you're comfortable free climbing class 4 terrain. And there's no wonder why they call this peak Blackcap. The summit rocks are of a completely different type than the East Ridge. A note about the rocks: note the many intrusions of pink porphyry rock. They cut clean lines through the much harder granite. Nowhere is this more evident than on Mt. Lago and on the ridge spurs north of Lago. The fortunate thing about these intrusions is that the porphyry granite erodes much more readily than regular granite and this has provided ways up the mountains (as an example, the Monument-Lake basin rim) where there would otherwise be none. Round trip pack-to-pack was 1 hour and 15 minutes (this includes time to sign the register and read the entries). From the saddle, I dropped down into the basin heading Eureka Creek and eventually contoured back over to camp—the Great Loop thus completed. The descent into the basin (past a snowpatch) was replete with irritating talus. The ridge traverse back to camp might be more enjoyable and wouldn't take much longer (but would be more exposed). However, what's potentially worse, twisting an ankle on loose/unbalanced rocks (I affectionately call them "baloosed rocks") in the basin downclimb or falling into oblivion on the ridge traverse? Don't get me wrong; the ridge traverse is not hard. It's cake actually. It just goes up above camp then back down where as the basin goes down below camp then back up (as if camp is on a mezzanine level). I was back at camp in plenty of time before dark (something like one hour left). Of course, this was a mid-August day length. And I had an abundant water supply in my platypus. And I wound up climbing two peaks that day instead of one. I was way ahead of schedule. But alas, were those high cirrostratus on the western horizon?
Tuesday morning was mostly cloudy and the weather looked to be progressing from mediocre to worse. A few showers had blown through. In the early afternoon there was a break in the weather (read: sucker-hole) and I decided to run down and get Carru—showers or not. I went down the Eureka Creek trail until about where it crosses Eureka Creek (40 minutes) then hoofed it cross country up through forest slopes using game trails. There is an impressive swath destroyed by an avalanche many years back. The destruction even slid part way up the other (south) side of the valley. I was aiming for a sparsely treed, rocky slope on the SE flank of the mountain. My goal was to ascend this flank up to the main east-west ridge of the peak. The climb up to the 8,000 ft saddle of the ridge was no more than class 3 in difficulty. In fact, the whole of the south side of the mountain is about of the same level of difficulty. Along the east-west ridge, I ascended by mainly keeping to the crest or staying on rock. The scree in the gullies was the usual lame stuff. I think I made the summit in 2.5 hours from camp. There was a register; apparently, I was the first person up there that year. There should be no difficulties climbing Carru, so there is no need for technical equipment—except helmets if climbing as a pair or more. For the most part, the rain stayed away. It was only as I returned to camp that it started to rain with any authority. And rain it did. While on Carru, take the time to look at the long ridge connecting Lago and Ptarmigan. This ridge traverse is definitely possible. In particular, look at Pt. 8165 SSE of Dot Mountain. Note the slanting ledge on the west side. It bypasses the summit of Pt. 8165—a point that looks quite precipitous. This is also visible from Osceola, but farther away.
Wednesday, August 22: the day that “would go down in infamy”. It had been raining since 7:00PM the evening before and it did not stop raining until 7:00AM Thursday morning. It must have rained eight inches over that time. Moisture was even starting to get inside my tent. No climbing on Wednesday for sure. And boy was I glad I took my tent instead of the lighter bivy sack. I cannot imagine spending 36 hours in a bivy sack.
On Thursday morning there was fresh, slushy snow around and on my tent. Eventually, I decided to go for a climb of Ptarmigan Peak and, time and traverse permitting, Lago Peak no matter what the threat of rain might be. I just wasn’t going to sit around for another day in the tent. It was mostly cloudy on Thursday morning. There were plenty of showers (snow showers at elevations above 7,000 ft) slowly drifting by in a northeasterly direction. My thought was to do Ptarmigan that day because it was farthest away. I could have done Lago instead, but would then not have wanted to go up there again in the event of doing Ptarmigan later via a ridge traverse. In doing Ptarmigan first, I could come back along the Lago-Ptarmigan ridge if I should decide it was possible. I still wasn’t 100 percent sure it would go, and the intermittent fogginess of the showers drifting by obscured things. You can’t see the Lago-Ptarmigan ridge until you get to Butte Pass and the SE slopes of Ptarmigan. Or you can see the ridge from Pass Butte and Lost Peak. That’s why doing Lost and Carru before Lago and Ptarmigan was helpful: getting information on climbing the other mountains as necessary.
Ptarmigan Creek Trail no. 484: what a joke! I don’t think this trail has been cleared of windfall for at least a decade. There was a windfall practically every 50 feet. And I’m talking about every type of windfall you can imagine: over, under, around, multiple logs in a row. Also, the trail is brushy. The combination of these two things coupled with the wetness from the recent rains made it an ugly affair. One might say it bordered on an epic undertaking. But after about a mile I was so wet below the thighs I decided to forget about it and slosh right on through all the way to where the trail crosses Dot Creek. I was literally floating in my boots by the time I got to the creek. And someplace along the way at around 5,350 ft my backpack rain cover slipped off and departed my company and I didn’t notice. I did not feel like going back up to find it. So, I continued on. On the other side of Dot Creek, I turned left and began a fearful 1,600 ft climb up dense brush. Bushwhacking is bad enough, but bushwhacking while soaking wet is even worse. At least it wasn’t bushwhacking while soaking wet while in total darkness. The more I ascended, the less enthralled I was about going back the way I came regardless of the opportunity to retrieve my pack cover. The Ptarmigan-Lago traverse was becoming more and more appealing with every upward-trod boot step. The uphill bushwhack finally ended when the forest ended at about 7,000 ft. This made for easier travel but it’s a long way up scree and heather (or so it seemed to tired old me). I went up to the right of a little snowpatch on the east slope of the mountain. The summit is on the other (west) end of the massif. There was no register, so I had nothing to do while I waited out a snow-squall. From the summit, I still couldn’t really see the Ptarmigan-Lago traverse, but I was going to go for it anyway. I think it took me 4 hours to get to Ptarmigan’s summit from camp. The biggest delays were due to the windfalls.
The climb down to the wide saddle between Ptarmigan and Dot Mountain is really easy. The slopes are barren—quite unique really. It reminded me of the Scottish Highlands. Dot Mountain is a really attractive talus-strewn hill. The pink porphyry cuts parallel bands through dark and light colored granites. The long ridge extending east from Dot Mountain was also striated with these pink porphyry intrusions. I decided to climb up to the summit of Dot Mountain (<1 hour from Ptarmigan’s summit, and 10 minutes from Dot’s eastern base) and this turned out to be the right thing to do as it’s much easier to downclimb the South Ridge than to skirt around Dot’s SE Face (scree and rock chutes). DEFINITELY GO UP AND OVER DOT’S SUMMIT.
The ridge continues beyond Dot Mountain in a SSE direction and in less than 0.5 miles starts going up toward the apex of Pt. 8165. I thought the vibrant turquoise color of Dot Lakes was outstanding. The smaller of the two lakes is an interesting crescent shape. Now, since I had seen it from Osceola and Carru, I was aware of the slanting ledge/terrace on Pt. 8165’s west side. It’s a good thing it’s there, because if it weren’t the difficulty of the traverse would go up markedly. At any rate, the NW ridge of Pt. 8165 can be readily ascended to an obvious notch. This is the northern termination of the aforementioned ledge/terrace. One cannot climb toward Pt. 8165’s summit any farther than this notch without climbing 5th class rock. “Eureka” is what you’ll say upon seeing the slanting ledge/terrace. But it’s not really a ledge or terrace but an eroded dike. It’s easy class 2 stuff. This dike goes all the way over to the south side of Pt. 8165. From here, the route all the way to Lago presents itself. The trio of Osceola, Carru, and Lago stand out from this vantage point. Each mountain seems so stately due to the deep clefts between them—very atypical of Cascades peaks this close together. They’re very separate peaks—each with its own character.
The remainder of the ridge is cake (there’s even what looks to be a light-colored trail etched into the 7,800+ ft hump). I left the ridge before getting to Pt. 8207 and dropped into the basin below the north slope of Lago. From here, the way up to Lago’s summit is obvious—just a bunch of talus and orange scree. I stayed on the left and eventually got back on the ridge leading up from Pt. 8207 so I could be on firm rock. I climbed right through the middle of the left side of the snowfield/patch where uncovered rocks provided foot and hand holds. The snow and talus here are steep. The snow would be dangerous; the talus is not. The snowfield can be avoided (it’s not an issue).
The true summit of Lago is west of the crest and involves some easy to moderate scrambling. Another snow-squall went by and I waited it out on the lee side of the mountain. There was a register. Now, here’s where it got a bit tricky. I knew I wanted to angle down toward Shellrock Pass from Lago’s summit, but the terrain on Lago’s SE side above Eureka Creek is slabby and loose at just the right angle to entice you to go over it. However, it’s steep enough to slide on and have an accident. These slabs cannot really be seen from the summit, but if you go east to the next summit over (or perhaps a little farther) and look down, you’ll see the slabby terrain. Following the ridge all the way is not really the way to go either. If you go a little way toward Shellrock in an angling downhill traverse, you will come upon a broad gully that leads down to the trees in the valley. You could certainly go this way or take your chances picking your way across the slabs. I picked my way down the slabs (there’s enough breaks) but I still wound up in the wrong place a few times. Once you get to Pt. 8054, the going gets easy again but it takes a while to get to the pass. And so there I was: back at my camp, boots pretty much dry, and the famed Ptarmigan Traverse completed. Well, not the famed Ptarmigan Traverse, but the Ptarmigan-Lago Traverse. I was back in camp in about 10 hours round trip. MY ADVICE IS TO NOT GO BOTH DOWN AND UP PTARMIGAN CREEK. The traverse back from Ptarmigan to Lago is not hard and actually quite enjoyable. The hardest part is coming down off Lago but by this time you will be able to see your camp (if you camped where I did) and thoughts of your next meal with pervade your mind. Note that the easiest way up and down Lago is via the SW side, but this leads away from Shellrock Pass so would take at least another hour.
On Friday morning I headed for Monument and Lake mountains. Again there was a dusting of fresh snow on the ground. However, the weather had turned nice again. This time, I traversed the Shellrock-Blackcap ridge over to almost the saddle below Blackcap’s East Ridge then dropped down into the eastern basin I had been in on Monday. There’s no problem with the ridge traverse. It’s exposed in places but not harder than class 3. In an hour I had contoured across the eastern basin and found myself at the moraine in the SW corner below Monument’s NE Face. All along, I was looking at my intended way up the 200-foot granite escarpment to gain the Lake-Monument Basin. And the closer I got the more heinous it looked. But I managed to find my way up it after all. It was probably the only time I had to free climb class 5 rock. But this was only in short 10 foot sections. Here’s where temerity would warrant having a rope and some gear. The rock is largely vertical slabs with terraces between and strewn with loose stuff. In climbing it, I basically weaved back and forth: I went up by a small snowpatch, moved right along a ledge for 50 feet, then went back left for 100 ft, then diagonally up and right for a few class 5 steps before finally topping out. It was a small victory as free climbs go. I’d rate it as 5.3. There may have been an easier way (I only climbed it once).
Now, from this rim the East Face and East Ridge of Monument present themselves. The face is not really the way to go (class 5), but the East Ridge is quite pleasant. This is the way Beckey and Roper climbed it in 1978 for the apparent first ascent. The ridge is mostly class 4 (mainly only at the lower half) with a few class 5 moves for when you inevitably get yourself in a bad spot. At times the south side of the ridge got slabby. The north side of the ridge is vertical rock that plunges down into the glacial remnant. Basically, I dispatched the East Ridge rather quickly and only got myself “in a tough spot” once or twice. Even so, I wasn’t going to downclimb it. If you go up with a rope, I recommend coming down this way as either a running, hip, anchored belay, or rappel. The East Ridge ends with some exposed moves at a notch SE of the east peak. From the east peak, it’s an easy class 2 climb over to the true summit (class 3 for the summit block). The south slope (the way Beckey and Roper descended) does not take you directly to Lake Mountain and certainly leads you away from camp. As for me, I went down along the interminable SE Ridge of Monument constantly looking for a gully or chute to get down off the ridge so I could head over to Lake. I thought I might have to go all the way down where Beckey and Roper went, but I managed to find a very steep and narrow gully (another one of those eroded porphyry intrusions). If you wind up looking for this gully too, you will know you’re there when you see some scrubby pines blocking entrance into it. Caution: wear helmets here if more than one person. Crab walking and erring on the side of safety got me down this gully pretty easily.
Once into the Lake-Monument Basin, the traverse over to Lake is straightforward and enjoyable. It goes through a sparsely populated larch forest (look out for bears?). On my way over, I kept looking at the peak to find a way up it. There appeared to be an easy way up (class 3) along a spur ridge/buttress thinly populated with trees. At the west slope of the mountain, I took a break and found that the gully I was in was comprised of slabs that were at just the right angle to allow easy climbing. THIS WILL ONLY WORK IF IT’S DRY. I climbed almost all the way up to the summit on these slabs—much faster than the spur ridge/buttress because there were no loose impediments. There was only one or two places where the slabs reared up a bit in a constriction, but this was where it got really fun (easy class 4 climbing on dry slabs; good stuff). The summit area is easy talus and boulders. Humor: I had not been up at the summit more than a minute when I got stung under my shirtsleeve by a trapped bumblebee. Talk about a fine welcoming party! There was a register.
I downclimbed the NW Ridge for about 100 feet but it began tipping over into ever-steeper slabs. When I found a sling tied around a boulder I figured it was going to be a no-go farther down, so I went back up and over and downclimbed my up route until I got to a scree terrace between slab areas that lead over to the long ridge between Monument and Lake. Once on the ridge, I followed it looking for the steep gully I had seen on Monday while climbing up around the rock band in the eastern basin of Monument Creek. When I found it, it looked a lot steeper than I remembered. And it was extremely loose, so loose in fact that I worried about things coming down on me from above. The left (west) side of the gully was almost barren but very steep and the dirt was scraped away (i.e., very hard and not easily scarified): your typical bowling alley. The right side of the gully at least gave things—albeit loose things—to hold on to. With adroitness, I managed to dispatch the gully without it dispatching me. Of all the places warranting the use of a helmet, this is it. Rocks knocked loose go a long way.
From the base of the gully, I went almost directly across the eastern basin above the rock band through heathery, boulder strewn larch groves and climbed up the south side of the Shellrock-Blackcap ridge (to save time). I went up south of Pt. 7885. Round trip tent-to-tent was 11 hours.
The next day (Saturday), I hiked out the 16 miles or so in 7.5 hours. I was pleased with the speediness, for I thought it would take longer seeing as it’s more or less uphill all the way from Berk Creek. On the way out, I was going to take a break at the trail junction for the Eureka Creek Trail leading south (the junction east of Lake Doris), but I never saw it. So, you might want to be aware of this if you intend to go down this trail. It’s pretty obscure (either that or I was looking the wrong way completely when I passed it, which wouldn’t be the first time).
Things I would have done differently:
Well, for one, I would have tied my rain cover to my pack somehow. Other than that and doing a better job praying to the sun god, I don’t know what else I would have done differently. Things worked out. I got all eight of the Top 100 peaks done in five days of actual climbing (1+2+1+2+2). I guess if I owned a filter I should have brought it.
Perhaps if I had had company along. But then, sometimes climbing alone is the only way to ensure success. For often it is the group dynamic that makes for failed climbs. If the two or more of you are of comparable abilities, you should have no problems and enjoy yourselves. It is truly wondrous terrain. It’s kind of desolate, yet full of natural energy too. The valleys are forested, but the peaks are barren—especially Lost and Ptarmigan peaks. Oh yes, I saw plenty of ptarmigans, but none on Ptarmigan Peak or in the valley of Ptarmigan Creek. One with white feathers under the belly even visited me out of the mist atop Lago. In terms of zoology, the highlight for me was seeing a Woody Woodpecker at the horse camp. I had never seen one before.
I guess in retrospect, I should have descended straight down to the trail from my stash at the foot of Osceola instead of doing a descending traverse to the east. Sometimes you never know where a blind traverse will lead you. But these little mistakes are par for the course. I made it out alive. And in the end that’s all that matters (plus the fact that I climbed a lot of peaks while there).
-------Paul Klenke, September 2001