Ycatapom Peak in Late Spring

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 13, 2004

Ycatapom Peak

Elevation 7596' Trinity Alps Wilderness, California June 13-14, 2004

For the third weekend in a row, Haydar and I were planning on driving up to the North Cascades. And, for the third weekend in a row, the forecast made a dramatic change midweek, calling for rain on both sides of the Cascades. After spending the previous two weekends in the rain, fog, and snow, we were not anxious to try our luck again. And so, on Friday afternoon, we decided to instead head south in search of sunnier mountains. We settled on Ycatapom Peak, in the Trinity Alps Wilderness of Northern California. I called Kathy to see what she was doing for the weekend, and her response was "Where should I meet you?". So we met in the thriving metropolis of Trinity Center, CA a little after midnight. After a quick night's sleep, we navigated through the maze of dirt roads and found the "Poison Canyon" trailhead. The trail itself was very nice, alternating though forests and lush meadows before getting to the base of the mountain.

View of the East face of Ycatapom Peak from the meadows at the base.

At this point most of the ground was still covered in snow, so we left the trail and headed cross-country towards the beginning of the climb on the north side of the mountain. This required crossing over snow, which was on top of brush, which was growing on a boulder field, which was hiding numerous rushing creeks. Luckily for Kathy and myself, Haydar did an admirable job of finding nearly every weak point in the snow. Stopping periodically to extract ourselves from the boulders, we headed towards a prominent snow-filled gully just to the west of our intended climb (Sleepwalk).

Haydar scrambling through the brush to get to the start of the climb.

Kathy enjoying the sunshine and the view before beginning the first pitch.

After having lunch, we geared up and began the climb. Although the route was not hard (3rd and 4th class with some mid-5th class moves thrown in), it was more difficult than expected due to the fact that water was running down all of the cracks, and it was difficult to find a dry path up. Even worse, snow patches blocked the upper part of the route. At two places we actually had to kick steps through the steep snow with our rock shoes.

Kathy climing the 3rd class portion of the second pitch.

Haydar leading the 4th pitch, heading up and east towards the base of the "tower".

Beginning the sixth pitch, stepping over a snowpatch and then traversing east on a ledge (Photo by H. Kutuk).

Although we had done a fairly good job of keeping on route for the first 6 pitches, we had to detour on the 7th pitch to avoid steep snow. Routefinding and rope drag became major problems as we zigzagged left and right to find a dry route to the top. We were also getting nervous about the time - it was already 6PM and we didn't know how many more pitches we would have to climb before finding the summit.

View of Mt. Shasta from just below the summit of Ycatapom Peak.

Two more long, wandering pitches brought us just below the ridge east of the summit, and from there we crossed a short snowpatch and scrambled up to the top. The views of Shasta, the reservoir, and the Trinity Alps were impressive - unfortunately we couldn't enjoy them as it was already 7PM, shadows were filling the valley, and we didn't know how long the descent would take.

Haydar signing the summit log. We were the first ones to sign it since the previous September!

The downclimb was not at all fun. It was fairly easy to climb down the south side of the mountain and traverse over to the pass just east of the tooth. Once we crossed over to the north side again, however, the terrain became steeper and more loose. Little creeks were everywhere, making the mud and loose rock even more slippery. The sun was now behind the nearby hills, yet still the snowfields below us did not seem to be getting any closer. We continued to aim downhill and towards the east, squeezing through the brush and in between boulders. Thankfully, we finally made it down to the snowfield and hiked back to the start of the climb. We crossed the snow-covered boulder field, the brush-choked creek, and found the trail just as the last daylight disappeared. Putting on our headlamps, we hiked out under a starry sky, arriving back at the trailhead at 10:30PM - ready for a quick dinner followed by a deep sleep.

Back at the trailhead!


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