Sahale Peak 8,680 ft - July 5, 2009
While on Rainier, we discussed our future plans for the summer and preparation for the European tour. Knowing that the 4th of July was coming, we planned to climb a peak during a car camping trip with our spouses. The orginal idea was either Shuksan or Jack Mountain, but the last minute decision turned to the Cascade Pass area and Sahale Peak with a bonus climb up Boston Peak if time permited.
We arrived in Marblemount before noon and looked for a camp site on the Cascade River. I decided to drive my 1970 FJ40 Toyota Landcrusier with the gear strapped to the roll bar and my two labradors loving life with the hard top off the back. Concerned of finding a campsite at this late stage on such a busy weekend, we took the first one we came to which turned out to be less than ideal. With camp set, we enjoyed the nice day on the river.
We woke up at 2am and prepared the usual breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. The 23 miles drive to the trailhead from our camp was paved for the first 10 miles but turned to gravel the remaining way up a winding river road. Driving the Landcusier, the intense display of stars and midnight sky was all around us with the cool glacier air keeping me awake. As we neared the trailhead at 3,200 feet, the coming day faintly illuminated over the 5000 foot cliff walls of Johannesburg Mountain which were directly across the river valley were we were parked.
We followed the well established path from the parking lot 4 miles with headlamps and bay the time we arrived at the 5400' pass, daylight had arrived. From Cascade Pass we continued a few miles northeast onto the Sahale Arm past Doubtful Lake which lead directly to the Sahale Glacier. This section of the climb, the Sahale Arm, was a remarkable high alpine hike in wild flowers, marmots, and extensive 360 views. They say that climbing Sahale is very similar to the alps in terms of weather and the quality of alpine climbing which were anxious to do in the coming week. As we climbed to 7400 feet near the base of the glacier, we were blown away at the numerous spots for an overnight camp. Simply put, to date this area is the most beautiful I have seen when it comes to a high camp. As noted in Becky's book, the first climb in the early part of the century noted the number of snow capped peaks surrounding this area to be in excess of 200. That's a lot of mountains.
As we stepped on the glacier, the final summit route was straightforward and there was only one small crevasse as we approached the summit pyramid. Above the glacier, we climbed the snow to the base of the rock face and then climbed several short class 5 routes to the summit that quickens my heart rate as we were free climbing without a rope.
Once on the summit, our thoughts of climbing Boston Peak, only a third of a mile away on the same ridge line, diminished mainly due to the loose rock and lack of protection. From the summit, the mountains we immense including Rainier, Baker, Glacier, and Eldorado, and also Sharkfin Tower (8,120 ft), Boston Peak (8,894 feet), Forbidden Peak and the towering north face of Johannesburg (8,200 ft) Mountain with its hanging glaciers. Another glorious day and perfect climb.... Now it was time to climb down...
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