Last Updated: July 29, 2015

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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.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Shoulder Season Singletrack, May 2015

Dungeness-Gold Creek Loop – touted by some as The Classic Olympics mountain bike ride, this loop has a little of everything. To quote EMBA – “There’s smooth and wide, rocky and exposed, up and down (repeat), logging road climb, fast descents, remote location, rushing river, old growth, and some definite hike-a-bike (you can avoid most of this with a start variation).” And if that isn't tempting enough, the lovely moss-lined trail through old growth forest on the Lower Dungeness combined with the exhilarating downhill for much of the Gold Creek Trail makes this ~19 miler unique and a definite must-do!

Mount Constitution – At first I was skeptical of the claims made about the mtb trails at Moran State Park. Now I can’t believe I waited so long to ride here! Super smooth duff-covered single track, outstanding views overlooking Rosaio Strait and the San Juans, and for those with parents in tow a great shuttle opportunity! A ~10 mile clockwise descent around Mount Moran then along the shore of Mountain Lake ending finally near Cascade Lake seems to be the preferred route taken by most bikers. Note that the best trails are open to mountain bikes from September 15 through May 15 each year.

Stafford Creek – I generally prefer loop rides over OAB’s such as this, but with the added bonus of hiking up nearby Navaho Peak for outstanding up-close views of the Enchantments, an exception had to be made. The amount of hike-a-bike on the ~6 mile ascent (1 mile extra to top of Navaho) detracts from the overall enjoyment, and perhaps only those comfortable with an enduro-style descent over very rough and technical terrain would appreciate this ride. That being said, hiking through the moonscape terrain below Navaho Pass (we unfortunately ditched the bikes before this part) and then ripping down the rough, rocky trail proved to be a very engaging and surprisingly fast and enjoyable descent!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

April Showers, April 2015

Just when all hope is lost, along comes a very belated April dump to remind us of what we’ve been missing all these months. And though impressive as it was, nothing short of a 100-year storm could possibly make up for the meager snowpack this year. Still something had to be made of it, so out of early retirement come the boards, pressed into service for one last hurrah down the sticky spring shmoo. See video - here.

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