Summary of the Climb
In the beginning
I was looking at doing this summit for a very long while. I remember almost a year ago reading about Vesper Peak and the trail to the summit. When I was first doing my reading about the mountain, I knew that this was one of those mountains that could not be missed. Among the stories about this peak were the views. I almost abandoned this summit to the likes of Mt. Pugh, but after linking up with Magellan and reading more about the other two, I relax I should take on this mountain about thinking about the other two.
While I was planning my trip to Seattle, I was trying to this link up with a number of SP members in the area about hikes and climbs in the region. I want to give everyone who helped me a very special thanks for the great suggestions and the wonderful information that helped me on my trip out to the Pacific Northwest. The strong of thanks goes to Magellan who welcomed me to the Cascades with open arms and really made this trip special. Through PM messaging I met Magellan who also had a strong desire to knock of Vesper Peak. He gave me great information and made a great suggestion on climbing Hidden Lakes Peaks first. We both combined to do this special mountain. I did give a warning to him that I was going to be the slower one in the group (I hadn't done a 4000'er in the east all year except for Mansfield in March). He was very patient and was a great person to hike with.
Vesper Peak Here We Come
It was another beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. The weather couldn't be anymore perfect. The sky was clear and the mountains views from the road to the mountain were totally amazing. I kept hearing about how it is always rainy in Seattle but at least from my experience I have seen more sunshine in the past two weeks that I seen in almost a year back east. I knew just by the weather this day was going to be great.
Up to Headlee Pass
We started out on the from the trailhead crossing a number of streams. The trail looked like it needed a little TLC. There were a couple of decent small stream waterfalls but the beauty here was clearly just the beautiful northwest forest. The last stream crossing before the field with the log going over part of the stream but it looks like someone put line to hold onto for more balance. After passing the waterfall the trail went into a heather field which was sloped from a summit. The trail was narrow at this point and my pack was sometimes getting stuck in the bushes. But the trail pacing was not out of the ordinary and there were great views of mountains away from the field (none I knew the name to). There a small slide on this part but the trail was already repaired and it had no impact to the trail.
After the field we when into the cirque in which Headlee Pass was located. As we rose up this section of trail we ran into everything from small gravel to small boulders. This is definitely an avalanche field in winter. The trail also in section wasn't well cairned leading a number of time to some confusion. Then came Headlee Pass, which to me was the most interesting part of the trip. Those steep switchbacks that mostly made of gravel and rock and the exposure of looking down into the cirque below made this trail a little interesting, but the views and desire to reach the top made it a none issue going up. I wouldn't though advise this section of trail early in the season when snow is there unless you are properly equipped due to avalanche danger!!! After making it to the top of Headlee Pass we decided to enjoy the views from the top of the pass of the alpine Vesper Peak.
The summit trek
The second part of this trip started with a large scree field. Views of to the left (as you are coming up) were very nice. This field continued for a little bit until reaching the true base of Vesper Peak. After cross this scree field you come to the base of Vesper Peak. The cairn trail itself passes a small field with a view of a beautiful alpine lake that separate Sperry and Vesper Peak. What amazing country! I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. After this field the route became a narrow and very steep trail up a sub alpine brush stand. The trail gained elevation rather rapidly, but this section had little exposure and once great in gaining momentum to the summit scramble which was head of us.
The scramble itself was the best part of the whole trip. Nice wonderful granite slabs that stuck to you like glue with very little in the way of drop-offs. This section was pure fun. The granite was a great reward for the hike up into. While climb up or down all you could the free volcanoes of Rainier, Baker and Glacier Peak along with hundreds of mountains. This section was clearly the highlight of the entire trip.
The summit itself opened up the entire western area of the Cascades, Pilchuck was visible in the front and the rest of the foothills lied before me. Both Magellan and I looked across the summit rocks and admired such summit spender. Maybe all the Cascades are this great but Vesper clearly was so far quiet a highlight to my trip.
On the way down
Heading down is always tougher on rocks, but one of the benefits of Vesper is that there were no precarious scrambles heading back. The summit scramble down opened up more views and though it was a little tougher heading down we both made it back with no hassles. The only section which raised some eyebrows was the trail around Headlee Pass. Those steep and very narrow switchbacks were somewhat unnerving but not enough to cause any problems. As for the rest of the trip it was just hiking over the same scree fields, the avalanche basin, and the heather field. Still this was an amazing day to summit a great mountain.
The Rest of My Trip
Magellan, Rick Anderson, Brent and Terry did attempt White Chuck Mountain. Around a third of the way up one in our crew members reaggrevated an injury. Though I have a lot of experience hiking out of the other four, I was least experienced so I decided to stay back on that hike to make that the injured person made it back to the car. It was only the second mountain of which I have attempted and I have not completed (that got completed the very next week). It will also will be the first mountain I will attempt next September when I am back here (maybe for good).
I have met many people in Washington State from my hikes and I must admit I have become in heart a western convert. The mountains and the people are both equally as amazing. I had many good memories but I know I have barely touched the treasures of this great place. I look forward to many more good times in these mountains.