Last Updated: September 26, 2015

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Glacier National Park (Part 3), August 2015

    Part 1 - click here
    Part 2 - click here

*Report by Paul Klenke

Well it had to be done: to finish climbing the last of the six 10,000-ft peaks in Glacier National Park. Except this time we’d be loaded for (grizzly) bear. We’d have camping permits ahead of time so we could “legally” (i.e., not break the park’s draconian camping rules). Our permits were scheduled for the first few days of August 2015. Before we got there we had heard that Mt. Merritt was arguably the most picturesque member of the six peaks. Now after having been there Sergio and I can opine that this is indeed the case. We only wish we had had better distant views while there. Forest fire smoke saw to that (or didn’t saw to that, if you will).

Mt. Merritt also has the allure of reasonable day-long approaches from different directions. And one approach affords a fantastic view of the mountain’s glacier-mantled south side from an elevation about equal to the mid-section of the mountain itself (that is, not from far below in a valley, which generally tends to conceal a mountain’s more aesthetic features). I’m referring to the approach via the Ptarmigan Tunnel. The tunnel itself is another notable feature of the park (more on that later).

I drove this time. I seem to drive on odd-numbered trips over there to Moooooontana. We made our “traditional” stop for lunch at the Wallace Brewery in Wallace, Idaho, only this time we didn’t accidentally walk into the wrong establishment for the third time, and this time we weren’t “bothered” by the old people posing as members of an accordion society. I love Wallace. It’s probably the only town in America with a freeway for a roof. You have to visit there to see what I mean. The rest of the drive was fairly ordinary because we’d done it before.

We met Agata in Columbia Falls a dozen or so miles outside of the park’s west entrance. We had dinner. She joined us for hobo camp at the same location near Apgar that Sergio and I used the previous year. Only this time we couldn’t get as far down the dirt track in the woods because the Verdina wagon is a low, black Audi with a nice paintjob. We hung out with the river rafting outfitter nearby for a bit in the evening before retiring (they had a keg of PBR!). The next day Sergio bid our Agata adieus and made our way into the park to officially obtain our camping permits. Agata would be doing her own thing for a few days then meet up with us later...

Continue reading the rest of the Mount Merritt report here...


Miscellaneous photos from various points along the way:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mount McGregor - McGregor Mtn Trail, July 2015

Despite my careful study of maps and satellite photos, we still left the trail much too soon and found ourselves engaged in an unpleasant brush bash across a swampy valley unsure if we were even headed in the right direction. It had become more of a pain in the ass than I had the patience for, and being that it was over 90 degrees out meant it was just too dang hot to do much of anything, let alone climb a mountain. For the second and undoubtedly final time, McGregor’s Sandalee Glacier was not going to be. Joined by Dan and Tim, I once again salvaged the day by hiking back up to Bowan Pass and then on to the flying ant infested summit of McGregor BM.

By contrast, The Mount McGregor Trail approach starting from High Bridge deep in the Stehekin Valley is really quite pleasant and offers something unique by Cascades standards – a boat (or float plane) ride to Stehekin, a shuttle to within a 5 minute walk to camp, and a very good trail to the base of a fun and moderately exposed scramble which itself is considered a “trail” complete with red arrows spray-painted on the rock to show the way. And for those so inclined, it isn’t every day that one can so easily haul everything but the proverbial kitchen sink to and from a backcountry camp!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tupshin Peak - East Face, June 2015

Tupshin Peak has held my curiosity ever since I first laid eyes on it from the summit of Bonanza Peak. Returning from a climb of Reynolds Peak two years later, I again found my attention drawn to Tupshin’s unmistakable summit spire. Tupshin apparently means 'needle' in Chinook Jargon, so it seems that I’m not alone in my appreciation for this mountain (other than the fact that it is a popular/required summit for Washington Top 100 climbers). The standard East Face route up the Needle isn’t particularly noteworthy as a technical rock climb and it certainly possesses some loose rock, but the setting and position alone I feel makes this a worthwhile objective. It isn’t a difficult route to follow and the mid-5th cruxes are solid where they need to be. Add to this the option of chartering a float plane up 55-mile-long Lake Chelan to Stehekin plus a short paddle in a row boat across the mouth of the Stehekin River, and you’ve got just the right ingredients for a great long weekend of “Type 2 Fun”! Special thanks to Stehekin resident and fellow climber Bob Nielsen for use of his row boat and thereby saving us from hiking the unnecessary trail miles between Weaver Point and Harlequin Bridge. P.S. I think your friends camping at Weaver Point that weekend stole a couple beers we had stashed near the dock…or did they float away like that time at Ross Lake??

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bacon Peak - via Watson Lakes, June 2015

Of only moderate elevation and lacking in classic climbing lines, Bacon Peak tends to be overlooked for the more dominant peaks in the area – Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan and Mount Blum just to name a few. Nevertheless, with a flattish dome-like appearance and capped by an impressive sheet of snow and ice, Bacon looks like a small shield volcano when seen from summits both near and far. Bacon stands alone; like an island rising up above a shallow sea of forested hills bound by Baker Lake to the west and the Skagit River Valley to the south and east. The appeal lies in its relative isolation and significant prominence, which affords it a commanding 360-degree summit panorama that includes a good portion of North Cascades National Park and especially the rugged Picket Range. The standard approach is characterized by a meandering trail along scenic subalpine meadows and lakes, then a high route over talus, slabs and snow traversing numerous delightful glacier-sculpted basins. As appealing as that may sound, be advised that there is also some nasty brush standing in the way of Bacon’s summit. Beyond the brush, one is rewarded with a lonely summit crowned with a unique icecap feature and from where one-of-a-kind views await the Cascades rambler in us all!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mount Fernow - Southwest Route, May 2015

As the last non-volcanic 9000+ foot peak in the state for me, Mount Fernow has long been a thorn in my side. Having been up into Leroy Basin twice already, once for neighbouring 9'ers Seven Fingered Jack (SFJ) and Mount Maude, and again years later to climb Maude’s North Face route, I wasn’t too terribly keen on kicking dirt up that steep, dusty trail a third time. So a plan was hatched to climb the peak via the more remote and unexplored (by me) Entiat River Trail approaching from the peak’s east. Starting from camp in scenic Entiat Meadows about 15 footsore miles in, this approach involves a 4000-ft grind up the north flank of the towering alpine cirque formed by the trio of Entiat 9’ers looming overhead. The route then ends with the standard East Ridge finish to Fernow’s lofty summit...or so I had hoped! Unfortunately last summer’s Duncan Fire which scorched 12,659 acres between Entiat River and the North Fork Entiat River, eventually spreading east across the North Fork put the kibosh on all of that. I briefly considered the Holden Village approach, complete with boat ride up Lake Chelan and shuttle to Holden, but it seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth. Enough was enough! I’ve put it off long enough; boring old Leroy Creek would have to do, climbing Fernow via the SW Route.

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