Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Point 7248', Pasayten Wilderness

After doing Bear Skull Mountain last Memorial Day, doing another peak off of the Devils Dome Loop this year seemed like a reasonable idea, especially with the excellent forecast. Sir Hikes A Lot joined for what was mostly a great day (one navigation issue noted below). Point 7248' (South Jackita) is an easily-attainable ridge bump above the Jackita Ridge trail with excellent views to the central Pasayten, and large swaths of North Cascades National Park.

  • There is a difficult-to-pass blowdown almost immediately after crossing Canyon Creek (see below). ~15 more blowdowns up the trail to McMillan Park; the stream at 4700' is raging hard in the melt, but passable. 
  • Solid snow started at ~4800' with 2-3' in McMillan Park and above. South-facing slopes already melting bare. Snow of 24"+ depth was good for walking, anything shallower was melted through to the ground. Carried snowshoes, axe, spikes. Used poles. 
  • I marked a waypoint on my phone (Topo Maps) on the way up when we hit solid snow and left the trail. On the way down we missed it and then instead of backtracking, looked at maps and noted that we were essentially on the trail. Problem is the trail is an entire ridge off on every map I've now looked at. We were pretty sure we knew where we were and it felt wrong, so we schwacked to where we thought the trail should be and that's where it was, way off from where USGS, FS and other maps show it. Sigh...Only bonus was we skipped the difficult ford.

May be difficult with overnight packs, runs steeply down into the creek
The ford at 4700', knee-deep and running fast with melt

Following fresh bear tracks through McMillan Park

McMillan Park with 7111, 7248 (S. Jackita) and Jackita

Crossing the Nickol Creek headwaters

Heading up the ridge north of Devils Park, with 7248'

Cady Pass trail switchbacking up, with Mount Ballard 

Looking south from the summit of 7248'

West to north, from the summit of 7248'

Devils Dome and Bear Skull Mountain

Davis, Despair and Hagan (?)

Falls draining into Devils Creek headwaters

Osceola, Caru, Lago and Ptarmigan

Prophet to Redoubt, Mox and Spickard of the Chilliwack group

Sir Hikes A Lot descending, w/Crater and Jack

Unimpressed, after our unintended off-trail adventure

Monday, May 22, 2017

Soldier Boy 7034', North Cascades

Scrolling through Caltopo searching for melted-out on-trail approaches to interesting areas, Soldier Boy 7034' (benchmark) piqued my interest as being obscure but very centrally located in the south unit of North Cascades National Park.

Ben and I turned off the Fisher Creek trail at 3500' and headed straight up the ridge on a nice game trail. Bad blowdowns on the ridge from 4100-4400', steep forest and rocks from 5300-5650' and smooth sailing after that. Snow started at 4650', much higher than we expected.

We stopped just below the summit as there was a large wind-blown feature (30'ish deep) with sketchy runout on both sides. Snow was mostly 4-8" of mush: too soft for both snowshoes and spikes. Views weren't half bad, anyway.

Showing the off-trail section from the turn off of Fisher Creek at ~3500'

Climbing up to 4000' on a good game trail

End of blowdown section, beginning of snow ~4600'

Reaching the gentler ridge around 5700'

Bear tracks around 6000'; Soldier Boy back right

Mt. Logan and Soldier Boy

Soldier Boy, showing the wind-blown feature; we stopped at the larches just below it; Ben's photo

Looking north to Luna, Redoubt, Mox and Spickard (and a whole bunch of other stuff below skyline)

Pausing on the way up; not bad

Logan, Thunder, Vulcan (7880), with the Banded and Fremont glaciers

Slab avalanche and cornices on the ridge south of Soldier Boy


Forbidden to Boston

Boston to Buckner

On the way down: Primus and Tricouni to Ragged Ridge

Descending the steep forest-rocky section (5300-5600'); Ben's photo

Yeah, it was hot

Snapped spinal cord and head ripped off; maybe an owl? 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Ruby Mountain attempt, North Cascades

Potentially still a little early for the summer (south ridge) route up Ruby given the amount of snow we had this winter. The bonus was full, firm snow coverage starting all the way from Fourth of July camp; snowshoes got a lengthy free ride!

We turned around at 6400' where the ridge has a brief steep step. The summer route, traversing left around it and then switch backing up, looked rather steep and had semi-recent slide activity on it. The ridge was almost completely corniced with intermittent vertical melt steps. As the day was warming up we agreed coming down it would be problematic. We settled for the 270-degree views from 6400' and agreed to come back when it's just a summer hike. 

Heading up through easy forest on firm snow, above Fourth of July Pass

Brief view up the ridge, around 4750'

On the broad ridge, around 5600'

Patrick on the upper ridge 6300'; North Cascades National Park South Unit beyond

Where we turned around at 6400'

Stillwell Creek drainage; Beebe on the left, Elija on the right. Tower and Golden Horn on the cascade crest in the background.

Mesahchie, Katsuk and Kimtah along Ragged Ridge

Mighty Boston Glacier; Buckner (l) and Boston and Forbidden

Tricouni, Primus; east side of backbone ridge (Isolation Traverse) beyond, I think

Snowfield, Horseman, Needle, Colonial, Paul Bunyan's Stump, Pyramid