Peak Elevation: 5098 ft (Devils Peak) and 4938 ft (Devils Thumb)
Elevation Gain: 4858 ft
Distance: 12 miles
From Interstate 5 take Hwy 2 East. Follow signs onto Hwy 204 to Lake Stevens. At the “T” Intersection turn left onto Hwy 9 North. Approximately 1.6 miles up, turn right onto Hwy 92 (Mtn Loop Hwy). It's about 20 miles to the Verlot ranger station. From there, continue on Mtn. Loop Hwy, past Deer Creek, to Forest Rd 4052. The road itself was closed due to snow for us, so we parked at the end and hiked up.
Special thanks to Emily Wheeler for helping with this trip report.
Day 1: Devil's Lake & Devil's Peak
We met at the Verlot ranger station at 5:45 am, carpooled to the trailhead and headed up the road at 6:45 am. After what seemed like ages, we finally broke from the road. We cut the major switchbacks by going through the forest, which seemed to be worth the time. With fully-loaded packs everyone was breaking through the crusty snow. We could hear running water most of the way to camp and finally crossed Deer Creek on a solid snow bridge.
Made it to camp (Devil’s Lake) around 10:15, where we set out our tents and lightened our packs. We left camp at 11:15 and headed to Devils Peak, which was pretty much due West from camp. The snow was a little crusty and the visibility was awful. We were lucky to see trees 200 yds in front of us. We made it to the base of the peak at 1:45. This was a BoeAlps outing, so the students put on warmer clothes and ate while the instructors set up some ropes. Like an assembly line, we climbed a short pitch with a belay, then prussiked up to the peak (where we were given Mounds as summit treats. Dark chocolate & coconut are pretty darn good after all that). We free-rappelled down to below the saddle. Not necessary, but much more fun than down-climbing. The sun did break out for a few minutes as we headed out, and we were able to take a look at Devil's Thumb from the peak.
The first students down created a gear-rappel which brought all the packs down in a somewhat controlled fashion. Although not necessary, it was very helpful and efficient since we were able to then spend time taking down the ropes, (and of course eating summit brownies). We left Devils Peak around 6:30 pm and made it to camp around 7:30 pm. We would have been down even quicker, but the fog and snow-conditions limited our glissading.
We heated water for dinner and were spoiled by wonderful homemade cheesecake (that Dave hauled all the way up) for dessert! We were worried about the other team still up on Devil’s Thumb. We did have radio contact with them and finally saw their headlamps come on as the darkness hit. The icy snow was very difficult to get down and the visibility was – well, black - so it just took them a long time. The stars came out – a good sign for Sunday. We melted some snow for the other team, who made it back after 11pm – after most of us had gone to bed.
Day 2: Devil's Thumb
At 5:20, we woke up to shaking tents– our 40-minute warning. After putting on frozen boots, we left camp ( a bit late) at 6:30am and headed North for Devils Thumb. We were lucky to have the steps already kicked out from us from the day before, so we make really good time. It would have been miserable kicking our own steps, as the snow was very icy after the clear night. The last portion is pretty much straight up to the summit – maybe between 60-80 degree slope. It was basically like climbing a ladder.
We got to the base of the Devil’s Thumb summit block around 10am. The instructors set up a fixed line all the way to the summit, since there is some exposed Class-3 scrambling and a very sharp, very exposed ridge. I never needed the prussik – but I don’t think I would have felt comfortable doing the climb without it.
With another assembly line we all made it to the summit and put our names down on the registry. By this time the sun was out and we were enjoying a beautiful view. We could even see Team Granite glissading down off Devils Peak.
We headed down around 12:00. With all the sun, the snow had softened up quite a bit. Most of us started out down-climbing, then switched to plunge-steps as the slope flattened out more. We got one glissade in and made it back to camp just before 3. It took us about 30 minutes to tear down camp and we headed back to the cars. I think the road grew while we were gone, because it seemed like a very long hike back. Dozens of blowdowns didn’t help. (They were there on the way up, just more obnoxious on the way back, for some reason.)
We ran into Team Graphite again at Omega’s pizza & pasta in Granite Falls. (Very cheesy, greasy pizza, tasty cheese-bread & good gyros).
Mountaineering equipment definitely required on this one. Ice-axe was a must. Crampons would have been nice for parts of it, if the steps hadn't been there for us. Helmets were a good idea as there were some loose rocks toward the summit - mostly knocked down while we were rappelling. The ropes probably weren't required, but it quite exposed, so use your judgment on that one. And as the other team found out - be sure to bring your headlamp.
As for snow-camping, regular tents worked fine. The campsite was pretty sheltered and there was plenty of snow to build walls or snow caves. I used a bivy with a -5 bag and was sweating.
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