Last Updated: October 19, 2014
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Glacier National Park (Part 2), August 2014

    Part 1 - click here

Paul and I set out to complete the remaining three of the six 10,000+ footers in Glacier National Park. Long story short is we completed just two (Kintla Peak and Mount Stimson) and will have to return a third time for Mount Merritt. A lack of permits for any of the camps from where we could reasonably launch a summit attempt of Merritt forced us to go after Stimson for our second (and final) peak of the trip. Also, a last minute decision to climb Stimson via the proven but longer eastern approach meant that we really only had time for two peaks. Finally, the weather deteriorated towards the latter part of our trip, so we were lucky to have climbed the two as it was.

We burned a couple weather days between the climbs sightseeing around Logan Pass, East Glacier, Lower Two Medicine Lake, Marias Pass etc. Waiting out a particularly active night of thunder and lightning from the comfort of the East Glacier Hostel had us wondering what the next day would bring and if we’d ever get started on our Stimson climb. The t-storms and rain forecast for the rest of the week wasn’t encouraging, but we weren’t about to let a little inclement weather dampen our spirits. Hounded by thunderstorms, wind and rain, and doomed to slog through inexplicably thick and soul-soaking brush in the deep, dark Nyack Valley over the next 5 days, our penance clearly wasn’t yet served, not even after the forced bivy on Kintla! Oh no, the evil spirits of The Nyack still weren't quite done with us…

Reports for the Kintla and Stimson climbs:

Kintla Peak – South Ridge (via Akokala Lake)
Mount Stimson – Southeast Spur (via Buffalo Woman Lake)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Diablo Lake (kayak), August 2014

Spent a leisurely summer afternoon paddling the famously turquoise waters of Diablo Lake. With a stop at the tiny rock island near the mouth of Thunder Arm, we continued towards Ross Dam which lies at the head of an aesthetic canyon that extends northeast of the main lake basin. While it is forbidden to approach the base of the dam and only the upper-part is visible from the turnaround near the NPS boat dock, the perspective from deep within the winding canyon is what makes this a unique experience. And having motored to and from countless climbing objectives over the years without ever stopping to appreciate beautiful Diablo Lake, it was nice to finally explore this man-made wonder nestled among the high peaks of the North Cascades.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sky Pilot Mountain - West Ridge, July 2014

With the opening of the Sea to Sky Gondola this past spring, it only seemed appropriate to take advantage of the greatly shortened approach and finally climb the elusive Sky Pilot Mountain. Easily spotted while driving southbound on the Sea to Sky Highway near Squamish (BC), Sky Pilot is the highest of a tightly knit group of jagged peaks rising from behind the towering granite formation known as Stawamus Chief. And though the peak is smallish even by Coast Range standards-it stands only 6663 feet above sea level-what it lacks in elevation it certainly makes up for in ruggedness. Oh, and best of all, no more would we have to endure Sky Pilot taunting us on the drive back from Whistler!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Whistler Mountain - North Ridge, July 2014

For a fun exposed scramble with a very short approach, great position, excellent views, easy descent and short return back to the car, look no further. I’m speaking of course of the North Ridge of Whistler Mountain. No, not the Whistler of 2010 Winter Olympics fame, but the Whistler off of the North Cascades Highway near Washington Pass! This enjoyable climb starts from the Whistler-Cutthroat Saddle, and follows an airy ridge crest to a sharp notch below the final summit block. While some looseness was encountered getting in and out of the notch, the rock on this route is otherwise reasonably solid and makes for a satisfying romp to a pointy summit overlooking the area between Rainy and Washington Passes and beyond.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mount Carrie - South Route, July 2014

For those that have driven westbound on Hwy 101 and wondered about the glaciated peak that briefly comes into view as one rounds a bend shortly before crossing the Elwha River, wonder no more. Having glimpsed Mount Carrie and the adjacent Cat Peak from this very spot countless times while en route to other adventures on the Olympic Coast, the time had finally come for me to experience the opposite viewpoint.

Considered by many as the first and highest peak in the Bailey Range, Mount Carrie offers an outstanding perspective on the mighty Olympus Massif to the south as well as the deep trough formed by the Hoh River flowing from its headwaters at the foot of the Hoh Glacier for 56 meandering miles out to the Pacific Ocean. The hike up the Sol Duc River Valley to where I camped at Heart Lake is also incredibly scenic with old-growth forest, raging creeks and waterfalls crashing into gorges of polished basalt, and a thriving population of mountain goats. Heart Lake is also part of the popular High Divide backpacking loop that passes through the Seven Lakes Basin, so unfortunately there's not much solitude here. The route to Carrie is all trail to The Catwalk – a moderately exposed but easy ridge traverse across the Cat-Carrie saddle, followed by a steep grind up Carrie’s SW Ridge and traverse of south-facing snow and scree slopes to the summit. Looking carefully to the northeast I could see flashes of sunlight reflecting off of cars on Hurricane Ridge Road, reminding me of that other place from where I first viewed Mount Carrie so many years ago. It was a scorching afternoon by the time I returned to the trailhead, making for an easy decision to pass on the Sol Duc "hotsprings" and instead cool off with a refreshing dip in Cresent Lake!

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