Amazing Trip. We began with the usual car shuffle, hoping the excellent weather forecast would hold true...it did. We were leaving for Cascade Pass and Kool Aid Lake by 10:00AM, Monday, August 1. Numerous cars, but when we return on August 6 to retrive my van, parking was a zoo. We made Cache Col at 12:30 with blue skies and comfortable temperatures. Kool Aid Lake was 100% covered with snow and ice. Another team of 3 was already there. We would follow SP Stages, so off we went for Yang Yang Lakes the next morning, but not before seeing a fast moving Bear below camp. Red Ledges were easy with all the snow. Through the Spider/Formidable Col. We had planned to climb Formidable, but after poor route finding start, we gave up and on to Yang Yang Lakes. Deer and one other party of 3 shared this pictesque tent site. Morning 3 took us back up the snow to ridge where others bivied. Not really sure how you are suppose to gain the upper part of this ridge leading to the north side of LeConte, but we traversed slightly west (opposte Lakes) of true ridge onto very hard and steep snow field, but two choice at the top of snow...we pulled out rope and took two leads to the top of ridge crest described in Stage 3 of SP by Eric. The other two parties descended way west by passing ridge altogether, then back up to North side of LeConte. We found the boot path right away once on the crest. One of the few short snow free paths on our whole trip. Lots of snow for August. Should have climbed LeConte, but kept on schedule for White Rock Lakes, made the descent from LeConte's North Face around the buttress on the LeConte Glacier and proceeded to Old Guard and Sentinel as described in Stage 3. We were able to Climb Old Guard from this Pass before dropping onto the long traverse of the South Cascade Glacier,through another col, steep snow and White Rock Lakes. Old Guard was easy, I put a route and trip report on the mountain. Views were worth every effort and to finally bag our only peak of the trip was rewarding. Once back to this Pass we made it to White Rock Lakes in a bit over two hours, just getting dark. We'd been burying our food in pits in the snow each night to reduce animal invasions. Got up early on day 4 and a Goat was just pawing at my bag, uncovering it. He ran off, but can't imagine loosing my remaining food if I had been up a little later. What do people do with their food up there? Our next mountain goal was going to be Spire Point. We started what we thought was it, but moat problems and uncertainty about the route again discouraged us, no skipped it, enjoyed weather and views and dreamed of "next time..."WE are terrible route finders. Caught up with team of 3 younger guys that we played tag with much of the trip. They gave us their opinion where to find Spirie Pass and drop into the West toward Cub Lake. We followed their advice and started our trip out. We wanted Dome too, but didn't even try. We've been late on previous trips into the Pickets, got family worried, so we made sure we had the time to get out on time...which we did, but again, not without help. Nick and I figured this a learning trip, next time we'll get a few more peaks. We met a couple on the west side of the Itswoot Ridge later this same evening that had come in from Downey Creek, so knew the way well. This proved to be very helpful, drawing us a penciled map. We were to leave the camp near them much earlier on day 5,so the map was good.
Exiting Day 5 and 6
I am giving the directions from just below Itswoot Ridge, Bachelor Creek, as we went this year from the directions Kathi and Eric gave us who had come into climb Dome earlier from Downey Creek. Off Istwoot Ridge, down Bachelor Creek (which is a small creek here) get that sweeping left(south) and you can find a boot path and head into the massive avy path. You CAN and SHOULD find a faint trail here and there...stay in the middle of the slide always descending. You will see standing timber below, head for lower end of standing trees, pass through them and some bolders and kind of a second avy path with smaller downded logs to jump over here. At the time of our trip, there was still a large snow field. FIND this Large Log to cross Bachelor Creek at 4080 feet. You will find a boot path even through the Slide Alder still on the south side that will lead you to the log. Someone put a pink tape on North side of log for unknown reasons. The Trail takes an immediate downhill left off the log. Personally, I see no other reasonable way to do it...IMHO. So here goes ... We never were on the North Side of Bachelor Creek until we crossed the log at 4080 feet. This was confirmed elevation by Eric and Kathis's GPS and our altimeters. It was perfect. From this log, the trail is on the North side of Bachlor Creek and althogh not maintain, the trail is very visable all the way to Downey Creek where there is a nice flattened topped log to cross south back over Bachelor and proceed on a good Downey Creek Trail all the way to the old Car Campground where the bridge is partially washed out and the 9 mile road walk back to cars begings (we spent our last night here). I hope this helps, I can see all kinds of potential problems through here, but to recap....you should find a boot path most of the way and FIND THE LOG at 4080 feet. The trail is descent from there on down. You should have no more route finding problems from here. Just begin the March.
This was another amazing trip with Nick. We have been going into the Pickets the last 4 years and wondered if there was anything that would be better. I won't say better, but hopfully our legs and family will let us return to summit a few mountains in this Traverse. I have no idea how the original Ptarmigan Traverse was made by that group of men. We have a hard time climbing one mountain with maps, directions and others we meet along the way doing the same. We wanted more peaks, but plans have to be adjusted. We are so grateful we did it, weather could not have been better. So it goes... another outing with Nick, planning our next one...
Flowers on the Ptarmigan Travers
I was going to add all the flowers in one section here....might try to figure this out just to keep them separate...but maybe not? Help?