Walrus Glacier

Page Type: Route
Route Type: Mountaineering
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required: One to two days
Rock Difficulty: Class 3


Like Paul said, the Walrus Glacier is a popular climbing route for the Seattle Mountaineers. If you use your imagination, I guess it looks like a Walrus. Or maybe it was named by a Beatles or Craig Stadler fan?

I looked over the route description in "Summit Routes", and it shows the glacier portion of the climb going up the left side. Crevasses made the left side appear difficult when we climbed it on July 11, but a Z-route that goes right, left, and back right made for a simple ascent since we had good weather and excellent visibility. From the 8000' col, you can follow the east ridge, or scramble multiple routes across the south side.

On July 11,12, a party of 7 Mountaineers climbed Clark Mountain, #42 on Washington's highest list. Karl led John, Jeff B, Jeff R, Andrew, David, and me on a successful summit bid. We hiked to base camp 10 miles, 3600' gain, and after an hour break, climbed 2.5 miles, 2600', to reach the summit about ten hours after leaving the trail head. After some summit lounging in perfect weather, we got back to camp 13.5 hrs after leaving the cars. We hiked out the next morning, trying to avoid getting eaten alive on the last four miles along the White River. My daughter counted 48 mosquito bites on my right elbow. Including elevation losses, the total climb elevation gain was 6700', with a round-trip distance of 25-26 miles.

You could conceivably do this car-to-car in a monster day, but taking two makes more sense for most folks. I would recommend the standard route if you want to attempt Clark in a day. It was about 1.5 days for us. If you are interested in bagging Bulgers, consider climbing Luahna Peak(#79) on the same trip.

Trip Stats

5:15 2310' Left TH
8:00 4020' forded Boulder Creek
9:10 4900' pumped water in basin
12:00 6100' left camp for summit
12:40 6760' roped up
2:30 8000' col
3:15 8600' reached summit
3:55 8600' left summit
6:30 6760' unroped
6:50 6100' back to camp

8:10 6100' left camp
11:50 back to cars

Boulder Creek Trail Approach to Base Camp

Walrus Glacier Route

We approached from the South via the Boulder Creek trail, the same approach as the standard scramble route. The approach starts up the White River trail. Actually, it starts ALONG the trail because you gain very little elevation until turning right onto the Boulder Creek trail. There is a spot where you cross Boulder Creek on a very large downed tree. It's still pretty easy, but continued erosion on the root end could make it more challenging for you.

After climbing up a series of switchbacks, the trail traverses along the left side of Boulder Creek until you cross it at 4000'. I was expecting a possible bare footed crossing, but after crossing two branches of the stream with dry feet, the probability of a dry crossing had risen. Maybe we were over it? Then the third crossing convinced two of us to remove our boots. I studied a possible short jump from one log to another, but both were damp and bark-less, so I opted for the safer, wet feet approach. Two members of our party successfully made the jump and pulled off a dry crossing, and I was duly impressed. I managed an "80% dry" crossing on the way to the car, and one of the two with the dry crossing on the ascent got his boots soaked on the descent. So the crossing gets a WA2+ rating.

As we neared the basin, we crossed the debris from a couple of avalanches. The consolidated snow that still remained made it pretty easy. Since the Boulder Creek trail has become the main Pacific Crest Trail due to some bridge outages on the west side of the White River, I would hope some trail maintenance work would be performed soon. You can tell the trail was constructed to pack animal standards, and it wouldn't require much work to keep it in great shape.

Once in the basin, you cross a couple of boot paths headed into a stand of pines, waypoints 005 and 006, and then what looks like the start of the scramble route, SCRAM. My GPS tracks were scattered at times in the basin, which explains why SCRAM isn't on the solid red route. We continued on the trail until losing it just below the pass, and then headed north toward the saddle. A small basin south of the saddle was still filled with snow, and we camped near a stream flowing from its south end.
Mount David from campMount David from camp

Camp to Summit

From the saddle, it appeared we could either drop down a steep section into the basin, and then ascend a snow filled gully toward the glacier; Or traverse around the left side, hopefully losing little elevation. We opted to drop down, and 40 min later were standing on some rock along the lower-left side of the Walrus Glacier. From there, the glacier portion of the climb goes quite nicely.

Getting on Walrus GlacierRoping up
Walrus is getting steeperLower Walrus Glacier
Upper Walrus GlacierUpper Walrus Glacier
Walrus CrevasseWalrus Crevasse

8000  Col at Top of Walrus8000' Col

From the 8000' col, you get a good look at your finishing options. You can follow the east ridge, or choose multiple options across the south side. On our ascent we stayed a little lower, and ascended 2nd class rock to the summit. There was a brief section of 3rd class as we transitioned from snow to rock, which could have probably been avoided. We descended more directly on snow that maxed out around 40 deg. Finally, we followed our tracks from the col back to camp.

Final scramble from 8000  ColFinishing Options from the 8000' Col
The Entiat Range from ClarkEntiat Range from Clark Summit

Clark Summit PanoSummit Pano

Essential Gear

Glacier gear, we didn't need crampons in early July.

External Links

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