This is a 4600’+/- total ascent day.
From the Lake O’ Hara parking lot, hike up the gravel road to the 2 kilometer marker (on trees to the right). On your left will be a marked trail to Ross Lake. Take the Ross Lake trail for no more than 5 minutes and pick any line that works for you up the steep forested hill side on your right. There are two spots that seem to work decently, one across from a moose clearing and another a little further down that is an active drainage.
Either way, ascend/bushwhack more than a 1000’ to attain tree line. Once you crest tree line on the northern slopes of Narao Peak the north ridge will come into full view. The further left you stay, the easier the ascent. None of the talus rubble is fun terrain however. The main idea is to gain the ridge straight away. It will be well over 1000’ gain with one neat plateau separating two steep rubble slopes.
Once on the ridge, you will be rewarded with tremendous views of Cathedral Mountain
and Popes Peak
. Looking up the north ridge of Narao and to the east you will see the three summits. From this perspective the last two look more intimidating than they actually are. Move along the ridge, passing any obstacles to the west. Eventually you will come to a flat spot below a steep wall (photo). There is an obvious chimney (photo) to the right that will more than likely be filled with snow no matter the time of year. It is an easy chimney to ascend however. Once you top out of the chimney, move along some ledges back to your left and climb (crux) back to the top of the ridge.
Continue along the ridge with a few hands on scramble sections until you reach the first of three summits. This first summit has two large cairns (2006) and is a large flat area with straight on views of Mount Collier
to the south.
Descend this first summit to a col between it and the next summit (photo). You will pass an ice couloir on your left. The scrambling to the second summit involves little hands on scrambling up large blocks. Again you will find a summit cairn. This summit also has a summit register (2006). You can easily proceed to the third summit or return knowing you have reached the highest point on the ridge. The views are tremendous featuring, but not limited to, Cathedral Mountain
to the west. You get a solid glimpse of the Wapta Icefield
, including Mount Balfour
, to the north through a distinctive “V” notch made by Mount Niles
and Mount Daly
. You can practically reach out and touch Popes and Unnamed Peaks as well as Mount Collier. And you get a good view of the Skoki Range to the east as well, including Mount Redoubt
Return the same. Once you get back to tree line, you will have a difficult time finding the exact position where you ascended. It is best to mark a line on your ascent via features in the distant. The ground does not make for bad descent in October. I treed a marten by accident. It is very unusual that any of the weasel family lets you get that close. I tried to take a photo of him for quite some time, but learned where “pop goes the weasel”
comes from and gave up as I was obviously harassing him. Always a treat to see any wildlife up close. As I made it back to the Lake O’ Hara road, a gentleman was walking up the road with his bear spray out and damn near sprayed me. He had seen a bear back at the parking area and was in somewhat of a frightful state.
Helmet, Bear Spray, Hiking Poles, Gaiters, Alpine Ax if Snow Conditions, Possibly Crampons as well. I needed neither in mid October. Heavy Boots to Protect against the Large Talus on Descent.
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