Two of my friends and I bagged Chaval via Bluff Lake on 9/16/17. Road 2643 is apparently being decommissioned according to the forest service people that we met while trying to drive up the road. I’m not certain how far up the road they are intending to decommission, but note that you may have a 2 mile road hike to get to the climbers trail that leads to Bluff Lake. The trail was flagged all the way to Bluff Lake, but nothing beyond that. As others have stated, there is a lot of up and down on the way to Bluff, but the trail is fairly obvious. I would not want to hike this in the rain with all of the roots and scrambling under and over trees – it would be very slow going. We reached Bluff Lake in 2 hours 45 minutes from the car and only lost the trail in marshy meadow about 20 minutes from Bluff Lake. Make sure to stay on the North side of the creek running through the meadow and you’ll be fine. We camped at Bluff Lake and then bagged Chaval the next day. We followed the route posted by kevinsa and only ran into one area that required some route finding through a cliff band hidden in the trees. If you look at kevinsa picture that shows his approach and follow the red line, you’ll see two large boulders in a talus field that you pass and then head into the trees. These trees hide cliffs so some descending is required to get through to the next talus field. On the way back we found an easy line through this same tree band that skirted just below the buttress above the trees. Once in the trees you have to descend as cliffs protect both sides. The rest of the hike was very straightforward and thoroughly enjoyable. We summitted from Bluff Lake in about 3 hours 45 minutes and returned to camp in about 2 hours 45 minutes. The hike out from Bluff Lake to the car took us approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. My altimeter logged about 6,000ft of total elevation gain with the ups and downs of the trail. Watch out for the wasps!
Bluff and cliff lakes. Camped southwest of summit.
Via Bluff Lake approach. Went first to the 5920' saddle as described on this page. The descent down to the glacier remnant on the north side of the ridge appeared super sketchy - steep, loose rock down to blue ice protected by a moat - no thanks! We took the more conventional 'Beckey Approach', which worked out great for our late season climb. Truth be told, I would probably do this variation almost any time of year, as it seems much safer, with only a small elevation penalty. Found camping at 6000' - one could also camp at 5600'on the ridge S/SW of Point 6356, or just west of Chaval's summit at 6500'. Cliff Lake was quite buggy and did not inspire camping. Route maps and images added to photo gallery.
Enjoyed beautiful weather (until the hike out), but we were stymied by about 70 ft of 70 degree snow on the route. Found out afterward that there are alternate options to get around it, but we didn't see anything that looked appealing. Another day...
Attempted the North Ridge in a day. This plan turned out to be too ambitious for a single day push. Climbed the West route via the Illabot Creek approach. This route is not recommended due to the steep continuous brush.
Party of 5: Dale, Mike, Fay, Debbie, and John. See Additions/ Corrections to approach.