Washington County Highpoint Completion, July 15, 2004 on 9,511-foot Bonanza Peak, Chelan County
For more photos of our Bonanza Peak climb, click here
Bonanza Peak from the SW near the Upper Lyman Basin
Duane Gilliland, Joel Mickelwait and I joined forces for an assault on Bonanza Peak, beginning on Wednesday July 14 with a trip up Lake Chelan on the slow boat, the "Lady of the Lake II", embarking at Fields Point Landing. Joel is our young rock jock friend who also helped Duane and me with Granite Peak, MT and the Grand Teton in 2002. Upon arrival at Lucerne, the shuttle bus was waiting to take us up to Holden Village, where we joined the very friendly folks for a terrific lunch before heading up the trail to Holden Lake. We made camp with a nice view of the lake, and a fabulous view of Bonanza across the lake.
Holden Lake, with Bonanza's summit the first point left of center above the visible 'shrund. Holden Pass is at the right edge of the frame.
We started the approach hike at 5:15A on the 15th, following Beckey's route description via Holden Pass. We had read on CascadeClimbers.com that on the weekend of July 4 the Mary Green Glacier was in perfect shape, and we were hoping for similar conditions, which in fact we found to be the case. Only one visible crevasse was crossed on a very broad and deep bridge that could hardly be identified as such. The snow thumb was also in great shape, and after climbing high on the least-angle portion of the thumb, we traversed back to the rock rib underneath the 'shrund, easily transferring to the rock. The rock section of Bonanza is 800-900 feet of sustained 3rd and 4th class, rather steep, and covered with loose junk just waiting to be bumped for a high-speed ride down the mountain. We stayed out of each others' way, and only once did one of us have to slightly dodge a rock that hadn't yet obtained much speed. The route finding was only slightly confusing near the top, but when we saw the rappel stations above us, we knew we had to be in the right place. Upon achieving the NE ridge, it became VERY interesting, with massive exposure on both sides, and spots where we couldn't understand why the handhold candidates were still in place. My excitement grew as we neared the top, and knew no bounds when we finally stepped onto the summit. The whoops and hollers had no place to echo from at this lofty perch, but we figured someone down there must have heard us. Joel reached into his pack and pulled out a surprise gift - an American flag - and Duane gave me a bill cap from his home town of Mt. Vernon, WA. It still seems unbelievable to be just the second person to complete all of the county highpoints in my much beloved home state.
Yours truly approaching the summit of Bonanza.
The views atop Bonanza are the best I can ever remember seeing, surrounded as it is with a seemingly endless alpine wilderness with massifs, towers, spires and glaciers stretching out as far as the eye can see. The only downer was that a not-too-distant forest fire had distributed smoke in the area for several weeks, although on this day the wind had started to move the smoke away to some extent, so it seemed more like a heavy haze than actual smoke. But even with the haze, we could still easily see Mt. Baker far to the NW. We did feel somewhat cheated, however, because this once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity could have been so much better.
The view NW from the summit of Bonanza. The Company Glacier is below. Notable peaks visible in the photo include Dome Peak, Mt. Baker, and Eldorado Peak.
The trip down the peak was accomplished with I believe 8 or 9 25m rappel pitches to reach the snow. There was another rap on a cliff band below the glacier. Other than that the hike back to camp was uneventful. When we returned to Holden Lake we knew that Edward Earl and Bob Packard should be camped somewhere in the vicinity, so I started hollering Bob's name as we moved along the trail. Presently we saw Edward coming toward us and we greeted him first. Duane and I had enjoyed the privilege of climbing Mt. Olympus with Edward in 2003. Then Bob came from their camp and we began a spirited discussion of our climb. They wanted details, but I said that we were famished, so they'd have to come to our camp, which they did. We gabbed until dark, after which I felt quite sure that, weather permitting, their plan would succeed. They would be moving camp up higher on the mountain on Friday, attempt the summit on Saturday, then hike back to Holden on Sunday. They were successful as we had hoped, and Bob became the third Washington finisher.
Yours truly and Duane Gilliland celebrating on the summit of Bonanza
All features were in perfect shape for us on this climb. According to John Roper, the best time to attempt it most years is the first half of July in mid-week. The snow bridges over the crevasses should still be intact, the snow should be gone from the rock portion, and no other parties should be on the rock at the same time (extreme rock fall hazard). This is exactly how we found the mountain, which contributed mightily to our ability to get up and down from Holden Lake in 14 rather leisurely hours. Upon our return to Holden, we discovered that we were only the 6th party they knew of to attempt the peak that season, so with a mid-week attempt we had little chance of encountering others.
Here's how Washington was won:
7/9/1967 Pierce Mount Rainier 14,410 with my mountaineering mentors, Glenn and Enid Bolton (my uncle and aunt) and others (apex county, 5000'+ effort)
6/15/1975 Skamania Mount Saint Helens 9,677 (original Skamania County HP) with now-defunct Oregon Outdoor Club (Steve Polimeni, leader)
10/10/1976 Yakima Mount Adams 12,276 with Dalles Dull (5000'+ effort)
6/10/1984 Whatcom Mount Baker 10,781with Duane Gilliland and others (apex county, 5000'+ effort)
7/17/1988 King and Kittitas Mount Daniel 7,960+ with Bob Vinsonhaler (5000'+ effort)
7/16/1994 Snohomish Glacier Peak 10,520+ with Duane Gilliland and others (apex county, 5000'+ effort)
7/15/2000 Okanogan North Gardner Mtn. 8,956 with Duane Gilliland (5000'+ effort)
7/21/2002 Clark on county line 4,120+ with my wife Rhonda
7/27/2002 Benton Rattlesnake Hills 3,629 solo
7/27/2002 Grant spot elevation 2,899 solo
7/28/2002 Whitman Tekoa Mountain 4,009 solo (Martinized)
7/28/2002 Asotin spot elevation on Ray Ridge 6,185 solo (Martinized)
7/28/2002 Garfield Diamond Peak 6,379 solo
7/28/2002 Walla Walla Lewis Peak 4,888 solo (Martinized)
8/10/2002 Clallam Gray Wolf Ridge 7,218 with Chris Verdugo (5000'+ effort)
9/21/2002 Ferry Copper Butte 7,140 with Rhonda, Bob and Dotty Martin, Jay and Roberta Arden
9/22/2002 Stevens Abercrombie Mountain 7,308 with Rhonda, Bob and Dotty Martin, Jay and Roberta Arden
10/5/2002 Columbia Oregon Butte 6,387 solo
10/5/2002 Franklin unnamed area 1,640+ solo
10/6/2002 Thurston spot elev. (Quiemuth Peak) 2,922 solo
10/13/2002 Cowlitz Goat Mountain 4,965 solo
10/26/2002 Kitsap Gold Mountain 1,761 with Duane Gilliland
11/2/2002 Wahkiakum BM Huckleberry on H. Ridge 2,673 solo
11/3/2002 Pacific unnamed area 3,000+ solo (nearly Martinized)
11/16/2002 San Juan Mt Constitution 2,407 with Rhonda (Martinized)
3/8/2003 Adams 1 area in Karakul Hills 2,100+ with Dean Molen
3/8/2003 Lincoln Lilienthal Mountain 3,568 with Dean Molen
5/18/2003 Klickitat Indian Rock 5,823 with Dean Molen
5/26/2003 Douglas Badger Mountain 4,254 with Dean Molen
6/1/2003 Grays Harbor unnamed area 4,880+ with Duane Gilliland and Dean Molen
6/28/2003 Mason Mount Stone 6,612 with Dennis and Duane Gilliland (5000'+ effort)
7/12/2003 Skagit Buckner Mountain 9,112+ with the Mazamas (Ed Holt, leader) and Duane Gilliland (apex county, 5000'+ effort)
7/26/2003 Pend Oreille Gypsy Peak 7,320+ with Dean Molen
7/27/2003 Spokane Mount Spokane 5,883 solo (Martinized)
8/4/2003 Jefferson Mount Olympus 7,969 with Duane Gilliland, Edward Earl, Chris Verdugo and others (apex county, 5000'+ effort)
9/21/2003 Skamania on E co. line 8,920+ (new Skamania County HP) with Dean Molen
9/26/2003 Lewis "Big Horn" 8,000+ with the Mazamas (Ed Holt, leader) and Duane Gilliland (apex county)
3/27/2004 Island 5 areas 580+ with Roxanne Everett and Greg Slayden
7/15/2004 Chelan Bonanza Peak 9,511 with Duane Gilliland and Joel Mickelwait (apex county, 5000'+ effort)
I wish to thank my friends Duane Gilliland, Dean Molen, Joel Mickelwait, Ed Holt, Chris Verdugo, and Edward Earl, without whose help this could never have happened. Thanks also to my much-beloved Uncle Glenn for feeding my passion for the mountains, and for trying to teach me mountaineering. I wish I had been a much better student!