Spent six days there for a mountaineering course. Rained the whole time, but did get the occasional view. Great time and a cool mountain.
Sahale Peak has some of the most amazing views in the cascades, endless peaks from the summit. The morning of our climb, a bunch of balloons floated by us on the Quien Sabe Glacier. We watched some climbers ascend Sharkfin Tower. While on the summit of Sahale, another group of climbers approached from Cascade Pass to the south, so we built a snowman on top to greet them when they arrived.
After two nights of bivying on the Boston-Sahale col and doing Boston Peak and Buckner the day before, we made a 20 minute jaunt up to the summit of Sahale on a beautiful morning. After doing Sahale we went and climbed Sharkfin Tower before returning to our low camp in Boston Basin.
Climbed with Young Mister Haberman. Mellow glacier with only one schrund and maybe 35 degree section, then exposed scramble to summit. Beautiful mountain when approached from either Boston Basin or Sahale Arm. Sahale Arm makes a nice spring backcountry ski.
To summit: 7 miles one way
Vertical Gain: 5100 vertical feet
Time: 11 hours round trip
Have wanted to do this peak for a long time so we finally set out for the cascade pass trailhead at 4am. Took the gravel road from Marblemount for 23 miles to the last trailhead on the road which has nice BIG bathrooms. Large parking area provides enough room for everyone. Left the trailhead at 7am. The trail to cascade pass (3.7 miles) is long and effortless. Trailhead is 3600 feet, and cascade pass is about 5300 feet, so it is relatively flat. After 33 switchbacks it opens up with vast views of the Triplets and Johanissberg (sp?)Mountain. The trail is wide open from here on out as it skirts some meadows and fields of rock and scree. Once at Cascade Pass, you go down into the valley for a few hundred feet where you hit a junction that takes you to Sahale Arm or to Stehiken (sp?). Follow the Arm up some steep switchbacks through brush and bushes for 700 vertical feet till you reach another junction that gives you some incredible views of
the Sahale Arm, and everything else around you. From here you can downclimb a trail to Doubtful Lake which is gorgeous, or start the climb towards the Sahale Glacier Camp at 7700 feet (from what I have heard it is the highest camp in the cascades). Beautiful meadows and songs from Marmots are seen and heard here as the trail starts out mellow and takes you around the otherside of the arm. Green, Blue, Red, are seen everywhere - spring must be a beautiful time of year around here. After a little longer one reaches the scree fields. The trail stops and picks up somewehre else every so often, and cairns are hard to see, but keep your eye on the terminus of the Glacier and you should be okay. Good boots that have strong support, such as full steel shank or so are recommended so that a twisted ankle is not a threat. After reaching the camp there are many small lakes and streams that flow off of the glacier that provided some of the best glacier water I had
ever had after coming back down, so be sure to bring your water filter! The campsites here remind me of Helen Lake Basecamp on Mt Shasta, shelters made from stones that provide some great protection from wind and weather. The wind was not too bad at spots on the trail, but reached around 25mph, but really cold, even though the sun shined brightly. (Bring lots of extra clothing) From camp you are only about 1000 vertical feet short of the summit, and a short 1.3 miles. Here is the spot to put on the crampons, get out the ice axe, and a rope (recommended). There was a group of BoeAlps in front of us and they did not use a rope, but I like to use ropes when there is a glacier involved that has crevasses. It is not a difficult glacier climb, Grade I - and the negotiation of crevasses is pretty simple as long as you stay on the crampon tracks. There are some large crevasses though and a fall without an ice axe, or the ability to use one could be serious. I noticed on the way down that there was a crevasse opening up at the halfway mark that might engulf the path, so hopefully there will be a detour path soon. Probe the area before continuing on. Once off the glacier, it is all scree from there on out. There are too many paths and approaches for the summit. Beckey has 3 listed, and they are all difficult, with a class 3-4 as being the easiest. So we skirted the southerly ridge and followed a couple of paths that lead us to the base of the summit, some 300 feet below the top. There was a group of some folks coming down, and the path they were taking was a little sketchy. On the south east side of the summit is a gulley that is about class 3-4 and has high exposure. One slip could be fatal. We climbed up and made our way up a small crack in a chimney that was rather difficult, but minimal exposure. The packs made it rather difficult, so we took them off and headed for the traverse across the gully. At this time the BoeAlps were belaying some climbers down, and one of them had on Plastics! I was so scared for him, as that was the absolute worst thing someone could have done. They should not
have been allowed on the summit climb as plastics are just asking for an accident. Anyway, we had to wait for these climbers to come down as we barely sat on a ledge for about 10 minutes. As they finally passed, we made our way for the next 2 difficult moves. Hoisting yourself onto a block was the first one, and the exposure once again was awful. Trembling and unsure of ourselves, Dick and I made the decision that it was not worth it, and that sitting there waiting in a gulley full of exposure just made it worse for our heads. Tired, drained mentally and physically, we headed back down and struggled with the crack in the chimney, after lots of swearing and such, we got back down the screefield and had lunch with our other teammate (and my wife) Alison. Once again the views are majestic, and just to make it to Sahale Glacier Camp is well worth the trip. BUT, w/o climbing skills, or a rock rope (we had a glacier travel rope, but it would not be strong enough we guessed) the summit climb can be intimidating.
The elevation gain for this climb is over 5,000 feet (1500+m). Both climbs were in perfect weather, my preferred conditions! :-) Both were one-day affairs from the parking lot at the Cascade Pass trailhead. Sahale Arm is a great hiking destination by itself, with ever-expanding views into the spectacular and beautiful mountain terrain surrounding Cascade Pass. The views of the north face of Johannesburg get progressively more incredible. A vast sea of peaks is visible in all directions from the summit. The North Cascades are displayed in all their fantastic glory. I am a member of a Yahoo group called "Prominence" where mountain terrain is the topic of discussion. If you are interested in joining the group, send me an e-mail. One of our discussions resulted in some calculations that I requested having to do with the comparative ruggedness of various mountainous areas in North America. These calculations proved that the rugged terrain surrounding Cascade Pass, including 24 and 60 miles square, is the ruggedest in the North America, including Alaska, when it is measured as the average slope. For lesser distances, the area close around Denali slightly edges out this area. So if you love rugged terrain, this is the place to climb in North America. I will post more photos of the views here as time permits. I HIGHLY recommend climbing anything and everything in this general area, skills allowing.