Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sublime Ridge attempt, North Cascades National Park

Sir-Hikes-a-Lot was kind enough to join me on my reintroduction to backpacking (it had been 12 years...) with a long-planned route we'd been looking at in North Cascades National Park. Sometimes mediocre forecasts turn out great, and other times they turn out like yesterday: socked in, raining and with nearby thunderstorms.

We left the Hannegan TH Friday morning bound for Middle Lakes above Whatcom Pass, with a short side trip to the Tapto Lakes view point. The Chilliwack and Brush Creek trails have some moderately brushy sections and Brush Creek has a handful of climb-over blowdowns, one which requires a bit of work around. Camp at upper Middle Lake was gorgeous...

At almost exactly 1am Saturday we were awakened by an hour of rain, followed by a brief break, and then another 90 minutes of rain and a solid thunder-lightning storm. By 5:30am things had cleared for about 15 minutes before the morning fog billowed up Little Beaver and enveloped everything below 7000'.

We had looked at the ascent of Point 7087' the day before in good weather and decided it was still worth climbing up to see what Sublime Ridge (also called the Redoubt High Route) looked like and if the clouds and fog might burn off. Obviously navigating the ridge and Ruta Lake High Route below Bear Mountain in low-visibility conditions did not seem ideal.

Route finding up was a little difficult in the clouds, but we reached the summit in an hour and decided to hang out for awhile to see if things turned around. After 45 minutes it started to rain and we promptly grabbed our packs and started descending, not wanting to do the steep heather and scree in too-wet conditions. On the descent it started raining harder and as we sought a little shelter in a clump of trees to don our jackets a flash just behind us, followed by thunder in under three seconds, confirmed we'd made a smart choice.

We hoofed it back to the Hannegan TH in off-and-on rain, wet brush and fog. A wonderful, albeit truncated, first backpack in a long time. Looking forward to going back with a better forecast.

Thanks SHaL!

Giddy up!
Mt. Sefrit, from Hannegan Pass trail
Smokey and hazy on the east side of Hannegan Pass
First berries of the year; extremely sour
Chilliwack River cable car crossing
Blowdown on the Brush Creek trail
Brush Creek trail below Whatcom Peak
Falls pumping off of Eiley-Wiley Ridge into Little Beaver, from Whatcom Pass
Tapto-Middle Lakes trail
Challenger and Eiley-Wiley Ridge from the Tapto Lakes trail
Red Face Mountain above Tapto Lakes
A lower Tapto Lake with clouds rolling over Easy Ridge, Shuksan back-right through the haze
Me and Challenger
Descending back to the turnoff for Middle Lakes, with Challenger and Whatcom
Approaching upper Middle Lake, with Point 7087' above SHaL
Luna Peak through a gap in Eiley-Wiley
Upper Middle Lake
Camp for Friday night

Challenger, ridge east of Fury in back, Point 7374' and Eiley-Wiley, Luna Peak and lower Middle Lake
Sunset on the Challenger Glacier
Upper Middle Lake Saturday morning
Ascending low on 7087'
Low on 7087'
SHaL coming up the summit ridge of Point 7087'
Mox Peaks and the Col of the Wild, with Mount Spickard beyond, from Point 7087'
Mt. Redoubt from 7087'
The clearest view we got in 45 minutes of praying; beginning of Sublime Ridge below

Descending the upper part of Point 7087'
Descending into more fog
Rain picking up as we near upper Middle Lake
Jacket time...just before the close lightning
Descending Brush Creek in light rain
Salmonberry along the Chilliwack River
Socked-in Hannegan Pass
Back down the Ruth Creek drainage

1 comment:

  1. The views look so different from when I was there!