Bulger

Mt. Baker (June 4-5, 2016)

Mt. Baker via Easton (10,781ft)

June 4-5, 2016

 

Linsey Warren

Kyle Finnegan

Andre G.

Laurel T.

 

-- Day 1 --

Meet Brickyard P&R – 6.15am

Arrive Trailhead – 9.00am

Depart Trailhead –9.30am

Railroad Grade – 12.00pm

Summit camp –8.15pm

 

-- Day 2 --

Rise and shine – 4.45am

Summit – 5.30am

Railroad Grade (top) – 10.00am

Arrive Trailhead – 1.00pm

Arrive Brickyard P&R – 4.00pm

**All times are estimates as camera time may have been incorrect.

One month after being on Baker with John and Duncan for Colfax and Sherman I found myself back on the mountain but this time with Kyle, Andre and Laurel. I went back and forth on which route to take. I’m quite familiar with the Coleman side now and I believe it is technically shorter but the difference between the routes didn’t seem too substantial and so I opted for the Easton glacier so that I could see another face of the mountain. Literally and figuratively.

The weather was shaping up to be perfect, albeit a little hot. I sent out a pre-climb email with basic gear distribution and links to two different weather forecasts and The Mountaineers basic route description. We met at the Brickyard, ‘aka Boneyard’ when Dave and I are meeting, at 6.40am. It was supposed to be 6.30am but we were running a little late because I couldn’t find the Northwest Forest Pass at the last minute. Fortunately for all Laurel had an America the Beautiful Pass which I just learned this weekend can be used in place of a Northwest Forest Pass. Although I asked everyone numerous times whether or not they thought it’d work. Andre told me he read it on two sites to which I asked “Reputable sites?” Everyone was ready to accept it worked, I was just nervous since the parking fine can be pretty hefty. But fortunately it did work, and now I’m seriously considering an American the Beautiful Pass!

Overall we made good time getting there, with one quick stop at the Starbucks in Sedro Wooley for a late breakfast. We followed Hwy 20 East until just after *Hamilton and then turned left onto Mt. Baker Road. We followed the road for a ways before turning left onto Forest Service Road 12. There was one sign that indicated Forest Service Road 12 and then after turning onto it there was minimal signage until the fork in the road for Road 12 and Road 13. We took the right fork and continued up FSR 13 to its terminus at the trailhead. The parking lot was full so we had to drive a little ways down the road (not too far) and park on the side of the road. There were lots of guiding vans among the numerous other cars. If there was any doubt that it was going to be busy that settled it for me.

As we were heading off out of the trailhead we ran into a group of individuals who looked like they were there to day hike and they asked if we were going up the mountain and if this was the start of the route to climb Mt. Baker. I always enjoy interacting with people who are curious about the mountains; who are exploring a new place and excited to hear more. It always seems so positive and encouraging. But perhaps that’s just my passion meeting their interest in a perfect combination. The trail is straight forward and looks like underneath the snow it would be very obvious but we started hitting patches of snow about 300/400ft above the car. They were patchy so it wasn’t too bad but they were melting fast and had lots of opportunities to punch through to a hollow space below. Once we arrived at the river crossing I remembered reading something about a ‘’dangerous river crossing’’. Oops. Spring melt off. A guided group had gone across not long before us so that was a good indicator of a place to cross because at first glance it looked like we may have to take our boots off and wade. I didn’t see any obvious rock hopping spots. We ended up going uphill from where the trail intersects the river about 60 lateral feet and hopping rocks to get to a middle rocky section in the center of the river. From there we walked across two tiny logs laid next to each other pinned against a tree. The logs looked like they were barely able to hold our weight and were partially underwater in a couple places. The lovely guide woman across the way gave us encouraging smiles and pointed the way which was very kind of her. I went across first and only got a little wet but nothing substantial that seemed to penetrate the boots. Success. Laurel followed using one of my poles and then the guys followed immediately after. We didn’t stop we just continued across the way and upwards. The trail wasn’t immediately obvious and given the way we came up I think I inadvertently followed a stream up a short ways before intersecting the trail. It was just making it through the washed out river section. After this we encountered several more sections of snow and trail before reaching all snow as the trees opened up. The railroad grade rib was melted out on top so you could follow the trail but it was snow to walk across to get to it. We stopped shortly before the railroad grade in the shade of a lovely group of trees on a melted out platform that looks like it was made for someone to pitch a tent. We all had a snack, water and took in the views. Another group of two stopped on the other side of the trees and we invited them over to join us on our really lovely flat platform. We briefly talked with them before setting out again. We followed the snow to the base of the railroad grade and then took the trail up to the top and followed the trail up. The sun was really hot at this point and just looking at the glacier filled me with a sense of foreboding. It was going to be cookin’ hot on the glacier. 

As we made our way up the railroad grade we saw two marmots just below the trail having a marmot fight. It was kind of sad because they were making sad squeaking noises but at the same time a little funny because they were holding out their little paws and batting at each other. The marmots looked more ragged than other marmots I’d seen. It was kind of sad. Hope it’s just them coming out into spring and their coats and health improve. We briefly stopped for a little bit of water for Andre along the railroad section (last bit of running water I saw until below the headwall). Just as we made our way off the railroad section to the first set of tents and the lower campsite Kyle’s leg started hurting him. He thought it was a mix of a cramp and a charley-horse. I admit to being frustrated at this point. We hadn’t gained that much elevation in relation to how much we still had to go and it made me nervous. He was able to pull it together though after we had a short stop. Since we stopped we also roped up. In hindsight that was premature. We could have gone another several hundred feet without roping up and not been on the glacier.

 From the lower camp there is a rib that heads upwards the glacier. On the left side is the Easton Glacier and on the right side it’s a snowfield (though I suspect later in the year it may melt out). We followed the rib closely but stayed predominately on the left hand side until just before the last rock outcropping visible and then transitioned onto the glacier. It looked like a more moderate grade with footprints. Though I did note that another team was heading straight down on the left hand side of the rib and that looked like an easier path than the winding one we had taken crossing to and fro on the rib. The glacier is in good condition over all. There were some sections where crevasses where visible but nothing that wasn’t easily stepped over. In a couple spots the snow was melting out and crevasses were starting to become exposed underneath the path but again nothing that isn’t avoidable at the moment.

We did not need crampons this late in the day, it was quite soft. We also just clipped in with butterfly knots and eights on a bight on the ends so that we could unclip and switch positions as necessary which was nice when it came to switching it up for step kicking. There were no clear ‘uphill’ steps because it was getting on in the afternoon and lots of people had already descended obscuring and obliterating most uphill steps by all appearances. So for the most part it was almost easier to step to the side of the very large path and kick our own steps. After a while I got tired and passed off the mantle to Andre to kick steps and after Andre got tired Laurel kicked steps for a bit.

We passed another team on the descent and then saw a paraglider coming off the top of Baker! The team said that he was hoping to get as close to Bellingham as possible. How cool! And I tried to wait out having to go to the bathroom. I really didn’t want to stop until I was sure I could fully go. When that moment did come I took a party separation and thankfully it was a warm day because it took some time. We had a nice break complete with food and water. We also took in the rest of the route. Another party that had been descending mentioned something about an avalanche above us but I’d filed that away as unlikely to be a real concern. But when we got higher I could see what he was talking about. There was a slab avalanche not far from the boot path (the boot path was nearly 50 wide as everyone plunged stepped down and made their own tracks). The crown looked like it ranged from half a foot to a foot in height (estimate) and was fairly large. It didn’t look like it would have been deadly but it did end near a crevasse and that could be deadly! And as I looked around I noticed that it wasn’t an isolated incident. There were lots of slab avalanches all at the same elevation and there was one right below the headwall that was very large. The avalanches all took place at about the same elevation. I estimated that to be a bout 8,800ft.

After this break I had to remind myself that even though it didn’t feel like we were going fast we were in fact making fairly good time and we still had the rest of daylight hours to reach the summit which seemed reasonable. I took off leading and in an effort to avoid the other steps veered slightly left following an old set of footprints straight uphill. As I got higher I noticed there was a fairly big hole on the path. I suspected a crevasse where someone had punched through, walking a little closer, that suspicion was confirmed and I could see the indent in the snow moving laterally across the mountain and slightly downward. I moved downward along it and was nervous about crossing over it since someone else had punched through. I went quite a distance to the left and tried to sink my pole in several times before crossing. But it’s hard to tell exactly how wide that crossing is. At any rate it stayed intact and everyone made it across without incident. We then continued uphill to the crumbling gates near the crater rim before the headwall. I had told everyone we’d take another break at the rim. As we neared the rock outcroppings I could hear the sound of running water. I thought perhaps it was the crumbling pieces of the outcroppings but as we got closer realized it was in fact water running over the outcroppings and it was causing rocks to crumble off with it. There was a bit of a debris field around the base, most of it was baseball size or smaller. There rim ice was melting fast.

We stopped just below the headwall to the north side of one of the outcroppings near the moat around it to try and enjoy a little bit of shade. I had a hat on and over that I had my buff pulled up so it used the brim to pull out the buff fabric in an attempt to shield the sides of my face but I still felt like I was getting sun. It wasn’t much but it was a little cooler. The boot path up was a lot more consolidated here as people stayed mostly within the path to go up and down the headwall and the path cut nearly right up the center. As we moved along towards the center in a slowly rising traverse my gut was a little nervous. This slope was of a similar angle to the ones that had avalanched and it was still hot out. And according to other parties on the mountain they had avalanched this day. I didn’t like the idea of going up the exposed center, especially as the run out was directly towards crevasses so I posed the question to Andre, Kyle and Laurel. “Do you want to follow the steps up the potentially riskier but certainly easier center or would you like to take what I believe is a safer route up the side which will involve us kicking our own steps?” The consensus was to take the side up. I think in my heart and mind I knew it was wiser but I wasn’t sure I wanted to kick steps all the way up. I believe that these slab avalanches were a direct result of the snow that had fallen a week before (nearly a foot was expected when I’d totaled up the days leading up to and on the weekend previously) combined with the extreme heat of this next weekend.

It was soft at this point and going up my feet were sinking quite far and it was a significant amount of effort in the steep hill to pull my feet out far enough to be able to kick another step at a reasonable height. I had to stop to breathe a few times on the way up. I tried to stay as close to the right side ‘ridge’ as possible where the snow was intermixed with rocky sections. I was hoping to get to the snowy rocky section and walk along that but as I got close to it I discovered there were a series of large and fairly deep moats around the rocks. So I marked the area with a big X and yelled back to Kyle to be careful as he was next up on the line. He did get a little close though and had a hard time moving through that section and got tired out punching through some of my steps. So we briefly stopped and Andre traded places with Kyle so the rope went me, Andre, Kyle and then Laurel. So Kyle could have the chance of someone else reinforcing the steps. I started tiring out a little bit towards the top. Not that I couldn’t keep walking uphill but kicking the steps and having them break out was getting exhausting.  But once we started to crest out on the top the snow firmed up a little bit and the grade relented so it was much easier travelling. That and we could walk in other people’s footprints once again. I think that everyone thought it was going to be a very obvious ‘summit’ after the headwall but there is a low grade uphill walk to get to the flat spot right before the true summit and at that point I think everyone was spent. I briefly unclipped from the rope and had Andre coil it to himself so that the other three could keep walking slowly and I could go scout out where we could put our tents. I didn’t want to drag them around looking for the flattest spot. We got up as the sun was low on the horizon and it was absolutely gorgeous. Even at the base of the headwall you could see the sound reflecting golden and the islands standing stark against that golden color as dark dots. It was quite beautiful.

I dropped my pack and briefly waited but didn’t see anyone and then thought I better walk back to make sure everyone and everything was okay. As I got about twenty or so yards from where I dropped my pack I saw them cresting over the top and yelled that camp was literally right there and pointed. I walked back with them and immediately dropped my pack and started using my feet to pound out a platform for us to sleep. As I pounded out a platform for Kyle and me, I also encouraged everyone to have a donut. I had carried them up as a breakfast surprise but I thought that everyone looked a little bedraggled and could use a pick me up. I tried just using a shovel to flatten it but the snow underneath was too soft and shoveling it off and then stepping there made me sink in almost further. So I stomped out a platform and then used the shovel to level it. I encouraged everyone to change into dry clothes as we got the tents up and asked Andre if he could get their stove going so we could start melting water. Melting water for four thirsty people and their dinners was going to be time consuming. It was partway through setting our tent up and our gear thrown in the lovely massive vestibule (our first time using the Hilleberg Nallo GTS) when I heard Andre say something to the effect of the stove wouldn’t stay lit. Bugger! I was glad that Kyle and I got the MSR XGK the night before and briefly gave it a try before bringing it. Kyle was able to get it going and we were able to make dinners for everyone but not fast enough! Laurel had eaten her food before we could even heat the water and went to bed shortly after. I only briefly heated our Tasty Bites Indian packet and didn’t bother heating or opening the rice. Andre was the only one who needed the hot water to cook his Kathmandu Curry Backpackers Pantry meal. And once we got the water in it he used it to heat his toes and then went back to his tent. The next morning he said he fell asleep before he could really eat anything that night. So needless to say the night of star gazing and chatting I envisioned did not happen. I manned the stove for a bit and tried to melt a couple liters of water that night so we wouldn’t have a ton to melt the next morning. Kyle’s feet were freezing so I tried to warm a little water in a bottle to give to him for his feet and we crawled into our sleeping bags. I watched the sun set low and blood red over the horizon as I finished up in the vestibule. The huge ‘garage’ vestibule was awesome to just throw gear under. It may not have been strictly necessary on the calm, relatively warm night we spent on the summit but it was still nice. I was fairly cold for part of the night so Kyle gave me his primaloft jacket to lay under my waist. It was the waist area where the cold seemed to be seeping in the most. Otherwise wearing my primaloft jacket and placing my down jacket around my toes kept me very comfortable.

Overall it was a calm night outside and the tent didn’t make much noise but it didn’t seem overly calm on the inside! Kyle got up to go to the bathroom, then I got up to rummage around the vestibule for a snack and a drink, then I got up to go to the bathroom and then at sunrise the sounds of people’s feet crunching along near our tent woke us up. I poked my head out and realized that there were quite a few people on the summit already. I yelled over to Andre and Laurel to see if they were up and if they were if they wanted to get moving. We had set our alarms for 6.00/6.30am or so but decided since everyone was up anyways and there were people summiting we might as well get up as well. Plus, in the back of my mind I wanted to get down as soon as possible because it was going to be even hotter today and I really didn’t want to be baking on the glacier in the noon day sun. I started melting the water and pushing donuts again. I would have happily eaten the whole container of mini Mighty-O donuts but had allocated 2 for each person that morning and a hot chocolate if anyone wanted it.

It was difficult to get everything packed up because the tent was so big it took up nearly one third to half of my pack and I couldn’t put anything else in it until I packed up the tent so I had to leave my stuff in a pile while we unpacked the tent. That did seem to be the one downside – besides the weight, it’s packability is more challenging. Once we got everything mostly packed up I grabbed the camera off my bag and we started walking over. Kyle was trailing a little behind so from the summit I yelled at him to go back and get the GPS! I’d forgotten it when we made for the summit. Oops. It was crowded on the summit, and the true summit isn’t that big overall, and today it was snow covered so no register to sign. We didn’t stay long really. Just snapped a few shots of the group and individuals and then turned to head down. We grabbed our packs and roped up from where we had camped. I wasn’t strictly planning on roping up so soon but Andre had flaked the rope and it wasn’t going to add too much on to walk roped up. There’s something cool about walking along the top where the sides start to drop off. It’s a slow curve so you can’t tell immediately if it’s a real steep drop off or a mellow slope. The snow was fairly crunching so we were wearing our crampons down (we didn’t wear them over to the summit – except for Andre) as they weren’t necessary. Since we were just a four man rope team we were generally able to move past a couple of the larger teams. I would move fast and then stop to take a picture. I was trying to get different angles of Sherman and the nearby routes for future reference. Move fast, picture! Move fast, picture! I’d brought a couple ice screws and we had three pickets just in case the headwall was icy at any point and we needed to set an anchor to belay or rappel someone, but it was in primo conditions that morning. It was firm but with all the steps it was a veritable staircase down and with the bite of the crampons it felt pretty solid. We certainly all moved at different speeds and rope management was a little bit of an issue because the person in front was almost always directly below of the person above and if we kept moving the rope would coil near the lower person’s feet. I did see the rope get stepped on a few times and it broke my heart when I found a snag in the outer sheath. Overall I felt really solid on it, but Andre and Laurel didn’t seem as sure footed. We briefly stopped near the bottom of the headwall where the path traversed back over to the rim between the two rock outcroppings to take off a layer. We were still in the shade and there was no need for a jacket. It was a very quick stop as people were coming down the headwall above us and I didn’t want to let them pass us. We then took off and didn’t really stop until we were on the moderate glacier slopes lower (aside form one chapstick and sunscreen pit stop for me but I tried to do that as we walked). Funny enough, as I stopped to grab the chapstick from Kyle I found a chapstick in the snow! Ask and ye shall receive. I took off at a good clip on the way down but we were definitely working at different speeds on the rope. Eventually after seeing a couple trips and noting how the snow was really softening I called for a quick break, a snack and crampon removal. And after that I switched places with Kyle so he was at the front of the line in the hope that he’d set a more reasonable team pace than I was setting. But apparently without the crampons everyone was ready to run. We went a lot faster for the last bit. In fact I was forced to run several times to keep up. Kyle led us all the way back to the rib above the camp (aka the sea of tents) where we unroped so we could get a few glissades in. While we did that, Andre ran into a few of his Everett Mountaineer friends, which was good since he was hoping he’d get to say hi to a few. When we’d talked earlier he’d made it sound like he might want to stay and visit, but once we were there and the heat of the day was picking up it seemed like everyone just wanted to go down!

We’d talked about stopping under our shady tree spot again but ended up stopping partway down the railroad grade trail where there was a little stream exposed (where Andre had gotten water on the way up) and he obligingly filled a liter for everyone. Sweet cold nectar of the gods. I threw in a Blueberry Burst electrolyte packet in for fun. I’d been testing different electrolyte packets yesterday and today and overall I think this one was the best.

The sun was fully up at this point and I was desperate to get to the trees. It was getting hot. We took several breaks in the trees to sit down and cool off. No real rush as we were going to get out at a reasonable time. However, the river was running higher because it was later in the afternoon (second hot day in a row). So I initially thought that the thin logs we’d walked across previously had washed away, but after some looking I noticed that they were mostly underwater. Unh. We were almost back to the trailhead, so if our boots got a little wet so be it. Fortunately mine didn’t get too wet. Two other gents followed us across. And after that it was smooth sailing and quick work to get back to the cars. When we got there the car was in the sun so Kyle moved it to a shady spot so we could let it air out and cool off in the shade while we packed up our gear and changed our clothes. We made it back to the car at 12.30pm (ish) which was between the noon and one o’ clock time frame I thought we’d make it! Glad to know my mountain math is still fairly good. We opted not to stop for food on the way home, aside from one pit stop at the ‘Mercantile’ off of Hwy 20 to get some drinks, chips, and a scary sandwich for Andre. We made it home in good time. Hallelujah!

Passes/Permits

Requires a Forest Parking Pass. Alternatively we used an America the Beautiful Pass.

Trail Conditions

Still snow on the trail going up to the ‘railroad’ grade section of the trail but it was melting fast in this extreme heat.

Objective Hazards

Some crevasses (mostly snow covered) and one river crossing.

Gear

Helmets, crampons, ice axe, 60m 8.5mm rope, 3 pickets and 2 ice screws (never used), basic glacier gear.

Water

We came across a section of water along the ‘railroad’ grade section and also at the base of the Roman Headwall the snow on the rock pinnacle was melting and cascading water down. It’d be difficult to get but is a possibility.

Animals

Several marmots, a handful of chipmunks, and one graceful crow.

Bugs

Standard handful of spiders on the snow!

Flora and Fauna

Not much blooming yet with the snow.

Lessons Learned

  • More sunscreen!
  • Random note – I found an old silver ‘toilet kit’ on the glacier. Gross. It was essentially a silver Ziploc bag with lord knows what in it. It didn’t feel too heavy so I opted to carry it out but still. Nasty. Andre wanted me to look inside before throwing it away. Negative. I did not.

The red indicates our route up the Easton glacier and the orange indicates our way down. We took the red to stay close to the ridge to try and mitigate avalanche danger.

The red indicates our route up the Easton glacier and the orange indicates our way down. We took the red to stay close to the ridge to try and mitigate avalanche danger.

The red indicates the way up and the orange indicates the way down. A closer view of the headwall.

The red indicates the way up and the orange indicates the way down. A closer view of the headwall.

A look at the route up Sherman from the headwall. This is a more complete view of the route. Climbed a month prior.

A look at the route up Sherman from the headwall. This is a more complete view of the route. Climbed a month prior.


Bonanza and Martin (July 19-22, 2014)

Bonanza (9,511ft) Martin (8,511ft)

July 19-22 204

 

Linsey Warren (Leader)

Mike R.

John P.

Pat C.

Kenny D.

 

-- Day 1 --

Eastgate – 4.00am

Field’s Point – 7.45am

Holden – 1.00pm

Depart Holden – 2.00pm

Holden Lake –

Holden Pass –

 

-- Day 2 --

Depart Camp – 7.00am

Base of rock – 9.45am

Bonanza summit – 12.10pm

Depart summit – 1.45pm

Base of rock – 3.50pm

Camp – 6.30pm

 

-- Day 4 --

Lucerne – 11.45pm

Stehekin – 12.30 – 2pm

Field’s Point – 4.45pm

Eastgate – 8.00pm

-- Day 3 --

Depart Camp – 5.45am

Martin summit – 8.50am

Depart summit – 10.10am

Camp – 2.00pm

Holden Lake – 3.20pm

Holden village – 5.15pm

Depart village – 7.20pm

Refrigerator Camp – 8.20pm est.

When I got the first email from Kenny suggesting a 4.00am meet time at Eastgate I was of mixed emotions. I understood the practicality of it as the roads had been a little iffy with all the fires and there was going to be a triathalon going on in Chelan that could hold us up. And if we missed the boat we were just SOL. But at the same time, I really did not want to get up around the 3.00am hour on a Saturday. The evening before I tried to get off as early as possible to finish packing and get home and get to bed so I could get a few hours of sleep. And just as I crawled into bed I got a text message from Mike saying he wasn’t sure he wanted to go because there were forest fires all over the state and in that general area and it might be hazy. I told him when I talked to the ranger she said it was okay but it was ultimately his decision. I was just too tired to fight it. I then sent a message to John indicating if Mike didn’t want to go we’d do a quick gear shuffle at the car but I was planning to still go. Shortly after Mike sent a message saying he was coming but I was too tired to argue it.

We met at 4.00am, packed up all the gear and bikes and headed over the pass. We made a quick stop in Cle Elum so the gents could grab some breakfast at McDonalds and we continued on. We ended up making great time and made it to Field’s Point on Lake Chelan around 7.45am. That was nearly two hours before the boat was scheduled to depart. We toyed with the idea of catching the faster boat back as I had misunderstood and thought we couldn’t take the faster boatback before of the bikes. But, we decided to stick with the original plan. We took the Lady of the Lake II up the lake to Lucerne, hoped off and loaded the gear onto the ol’ schoolbus Julianne (I think that’s the name painted inside the front of the bus). We had to wait until we got clearance to go up the road. It is quite a difference experience being there with the construction going on. We caught the bus up to the village and grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria. We were lucky they let us eat there, they indicated that they are trying not to encourage it but since we had planned on eating there they would let us. Right as we were finishing up lunch it started to sprinkle. It wasn’t so bad so we put our packs on and hit the road. We walked out of the village around 2.00pm in the afternoon. There wasn’t too big of a rush as we just had 7 miles to do to get up to Holden Pass. It kept sprinkling on the way up to the lake, gradually increasing in frequency and drop size until it was raining. And because the trail is brushy in spots we were pretty wet by the time we hit the lake. That is where we stopped and discussed if we wanted to continue on to the pass. I voted yes as well as John. But Kenny and Mike were inclined to sleep down by the lake. We called Pat the decided factor but somehow, likely due to my insistence that it would be better for us to be higher to tag both peaks, we continued on to the pass. It was not nice. We were going through the brush and slide alder in sections and just getting soaked. At one point, with all the clothes sticking to my body, I felt like I had just been dunked in a swimming pool and pulled out. I was just soaked. We stayed right of the lake and went up slightly to avoid some of the slide alder. After we punched through a short section it opened up into big scree and a little higher an open slope with a small beaten path. There were a few cairns to mark the way. We followed the path up to the pass and found a spot to set up camp.

I was getting cold at that point and someone had mentioned something about making a fire last time it rained on them. I asked if we could that this time. Although on the bus they had said no fires, given the fact it was raining and we were soaked it seemed almost like a survival scenario with minimal risk given the dampness. So we picked underbrush that was still fairly dry and I got my trip reports (the ones we had duplicates of since everyone seemed to bring Bongiovonni’s) and we shredded those and used those as tinder. It wasn’t long before we had a fire going! It was incredibly nice to stand in front of the fire. I couldn’t remember ever really building one to use in this type of situation but it proved incredibly invaluable. We all stood around it and tried to try our pants and coats. It was misting a little but it had for the most part let up on us which made it easier to dry our gear. It was an amazing feeling to start to feel warm and dry again. I was worried it’d be a miserable night being wet and that I might have to wear my long underwear bottoms the next day to climb in if my pants were still wet. But I managed to dry out my clothes and the pack cover on my pack, as well as the plastic bags almost everything was in, meant that my gear stayed fairly dry also. I crawled into my sleeping bag and John and Pat watched the fire as it went out. I slept fairly well that night and was pretty warm all things considered.

We had previously agreed to get up around 4.00am so that we could be moving by 5.00am. But at around our wake up hour Kenny came over to our tent and said that he was having some stomach troubles and asked if we wouldn’t mind pushing it back a little. Fine by me. I was warm in my sleeping bag and a couple hours wasn’t going to be a deal breaker. I’d really like to know who in their warm sleeping bag and right mind would have fought the later start? When we did get up and started pulling our gear out of the tent Mike pulled his backpack up and there were ants everywhere!!! We must have set the tent up on an ants nest and they came in through a small hole in the floor. It was gross. So we pulled everything out of the tent, tipped it upside down and shook it, then put it elsewhere and piled the gear back in. So we actually ended up getting up around 6.00am and getting started around 7.00am. We made our way up to the pass proper (we camped around 50ft below it) and from the pass we traveled west up a trail. The trail works its way up to the base of a rocky cliff face under which is scree and a small boulder field. We traversed under the rock wall (continuing in a westward direction) towards the waterfalls coming out of the Mary Greene Glacier. We hugged this rock wall a little closer and followed a series of little ledges, initially moss covered and green til it faded out in the waterfall and we had to work our way towards the center of the waterfalls and then upwards. It was slick but we didn’t need a rope to get up. Pat headed out first and cruised right up. We talked about roping up right there as the snow starts just above these waterfalls but opted to go without until a little higher up. We had no sooner decided that and got our crampons on then Kenny was off and heading up the glacier. We went about halfway up, weaving through some larger crevasses, without a rope. But it was when we needed to cross a potential snow bridge that Kenny decided it’d be a good time to rope up. The glacier was in surprisingly good condition. Very straight-forward conditions. Once we crossed the snow bridge (very solid) we traversed over to the ‘thumb’ on Bonanza. We initially headed left and then cut back right under the permanent hanging glacier and towards the base of the rock. The transition from snow to rock was fine. Hard to imagine that later in the year this moat can become impassable.

The base of the rock was quite nice. We stopped for a little food and to take our crampons off. In fact we ended up leaving our crampons, pickets and ice axes right there. We started the scramble upward and it was class 3 to start. We headed straight up alongside the hanging glacier. After 100ft or so it became a little more mixed class 3 possibly class 4. We ended up going up a steep section and getting into a little cave of sorts. Once there Pat dropped a line down and we prusiked up one section of smooth light colored rock that was friction with an undercling layback. It seemed we might have been off route but while we were sitting in that small cave (would be an excellent bivy from the elements if you aren’t scared of spiders or bugs) we noticed there was a piton. Additionally, there were other pieces of webbing in the area so we figured this must be one of the more common routes. I huffed and puffed a little up this section, and let out a couple choice words. Once above this short 25/30ft section of layback moves it became easy class 3 scrambling once more. We continued scrambling up and moving left (generally west/northwest).

 The scrambling was fairly easy until we reached a smoother section of light grey rock that was more exposed. The moves were not hard and the exposure was not too bad but I asked for a line or a belay to be set up. A wrong move and tumble might be hard to stop. After traversing into this smoother light gray face we headed straight up into the gulley above. We continued up, Pat beat us up and dropped a line down in the gulley that we used to pull on in one of the steeper sections. This gulley had some class 4 moves. We followed this gulley all the way to the ridge just to the east of the summit. From this notch we scrambled directly west up to the summit. There is a section of darker rock that is a big chimney. The chimney is class 4 but easy and blocky moves that are not too exposed. At the top of the chimney is a little ledge we followed to another small notch 20ft away that put us directly on the summit ridge. We did not rope up for this section as it was fairly straight forward. We made good time as it took us about five hours from camp to make it all the way up. It was a gorgeous day with the clouds intermittently rolling in and out. It was a fairly decent summit as well. Enough space for us to lounge around and eat. I pulled out a bag of Newman’s alphabet cookies and we had some fun eating and spelling with those. John helped spell out ‘Shart’ on Kenny’s sleeve. Poor Kenny was not going to live down the morning’s bathroom escapades if John had his way! And Kenny was a trooper the whole way up. He tried not to eat so that he wouldn’t have any intestinal interruptions. As we dried our socks out on the summit and ate, John danced around with his camera and we gave him grief for his tripod and self portrait shots. But it was his words that inspired the summit sign “If I wanted lip from you I would have rattled my zipper”. And while he was running around taking photos and we were airing out our feet (Kenny, Pat and I) he set it up for the group shot and then ran over and accidentally stepped on a toe. I was yelling and making faces when the group shots when off!

We had a lot of laughs up there. I could have stayed for the better part of the day! It was stunning. The summit register is an old ammunition tin. It’s fairly rusty and the register was pretty wet but we all signed it. We down climbed back to the 4th class chimney and rappelled that. Then we used a series of 2 more rappels to get back down the steeper gulley. Although Kenny had to down climb one section so that we could clear the gear. Pat was a good guy and helped him navigate it. Then we down climbed the rest with the exception of the layback, cave area which we rappelled also. Then the rest of it we down climbed. Once we got back to the snow we had a snack and put our gear back on. We followed our tracks back down the glacier and to the waterfall. At the waterfall we set up a rappel on a boulder at the top. It looked fairly good but it is just a boulder sitting there. The water was running a little stronger in the afternoon and more of the rock that we had scrambled up was wet. The rappel was a little difficult as we rappelled at an angle and it was hard to get purchase to move diagonally on the slick wet rock. Mike took a tumble but held his hand on the rappel. We then continued along the slippery ledges back to the scree field and back to camp.

We made it back to camp by 6.30pm. It was a great day! We made dinner, got some water and hung around camp. More eating to be had. Pat pulled out a bag of Swedish Fish and his giant green hand crank radio. So we took turns cranking the radio and listening to music and random clips of whatever we could get up there. I was actually impressed we got anything at all. At some point during the day John told us about the Bon Qui Qui skit from SNL and kept saying “I will cuuuuuh’t you”. It was hilarious. It was a great day full of laughs and a good night. I crawled into bed and listened to the radio for a while as Pat cranked it. That night I didn’t sleep as warm and in the middle of the night I woke up and asked Mike if he had any food. I had put mine all in the bear bag after the ant escapades of the night before but Mike decided to sleep with his in his sleeping bag. But as soon as I woke him up I realized I had a bar in my pocket. Opps. And later in the night I woke him up again and asked if he was using his jacket as I was cold. Poor Mike. The good guy that he is he handed over his jacket and I used it to try and warm up. After having slept warm the night before it was hard to believe I was so chilly the second night. But perhaps it was because it was a mostly clear night.

We got up the next morning around 4.45am and got moving around 5.50am. Pat had thought about going with us but decided he was going to sleep in and hang with Kenny. They would sleep in and see how they felt about getting back to town. We headed towards Martin. We went up to an elevated section to the east of the low point on the pass. There are lots of great camp sites up in this area as well and a boot path of sorts that heads up towards Martin. In this area you have to drop a couple hundred feet on the other side to another low point at the base of Martin. We decided to follow the ridge. Immediately after the lowest point below Martin we traversed over to the toe of the ridge. It is a steep rocky section, after which it becomes a more gradual slope. We headed up a steep 4th class looking gulley that was quite loose and topped out in some shrubby trees. We scrambled up through the trees and gained the toe of the ridge. We followed it up it where the ridge steepens and then traversed over some scree fields. We made a rising right and upward traverse over to the first gulley. We dropped into this gulley and continued to make a rising traverse over to a second. We followed the second upward. There were some cairns on the route. Follow the path of least resistance upward. The gulley’s were loose but compared to lots of Bulgers and the Cascades in general it wasn’t too bad. We followed the gulley’s path of least resistance upward staying just on the right (or south) side of the west ridge. We came to a section of smooth downward sloping and crumbling light colored sandstone type rock. We scrambled up with without a rope but definitely noted it as a potential rappel point. From here we continued scrambling upward and had to make a series of traverses over ribs in short succession. But the scrambling stayed at about class 3 until just below the summit there is a little class 4 section that last for about 15/20 feet. We did not rope up to scramble up. We stayed right and went leftward up a dark colored chimney. It was blocky and easy moves. John went right up the center which went similarly.

We were on the summit by 8.50am. It took us three hours to get up and it was a gorgeous day. And it was nice to get to the summit and be in the sun because we were in the shade for the scramble up. We spent another hour and change on the summit because it was so glorious. So Mike and I sat down on the summit while John took his summit shots. We had to move our bags once or twice for John’s summit shots. It was really nice. We found the summit register which was an old metal tube from 1935 that said it was from the Wy’east Portland group. Again lots of laughs. John said something about lady lumps and so I got a lovely lady lumps pose pictures. After that we decided we better head down as we still had to make it down to Holden and it’d be great to make it by dinner. We rappelled off the summit to get past the fourth class section just below it. Then we scrambled the rest of the way down to the other short flaky section of sandstone and rappelled that. We then tried another short rappel after that but the rope got stuck so John scrambled up got in and down climbed the section. We then retraced our steps back and did one more rappel down the class four gulley through the trees and to the low point on the ridge. We retraced our steps back to camp and the temperature was really starting to warm up. We got to camp around 2.00pm and decided to pack up. Kenny and Pat weren’t there so we knew we’d have to meet up with them in town. Mike and I were ready really quick and there were bees and mosquitos around so I was ready to go. And also because my knee had been acting up and a little sore I wanted to start off first downhill since the guys would catch me in two second anyways. But we all ended up starting down together for the most part. But John was a little behind because he was taking amazing photos. We headed downhill and didn’t stop until we got to Holden.

It was nice that the brush was dry on the way down. When we got to town we strung up our food so that the chipmunks wouldn’t eat through our bags to get to it. And we met up with Pat and Kenny and went to the mess hall! We went in for dinner and it was glorious. I had some tacos and salad, some spiced cake and then some cereal with two and a half glasses of lemonade. It was marvelous. After dinner we left some money for our dinner and grabbed our bike and prepared to head down to Lucerne. It was just after 7pm and the road was officially open. And some event was getting out because people were milling about on the streets, it was like we had our own send off crowd. Our bags felt heavy and I just wasn’t that motivated to ride my bike down. As we kicked off and started down someone told me it was a great ride down. In my head I thought, maybe when you don’t have a heavy pack on after a long day and are an experienced rider but those were not quite my circumstances and I was a little nervous about going down. Mike said he’d go slow with me and he did. I held my brakes most of the way down. But made it eventually! It was nice that there were mile signs on the road too, that helped mark the progress. I was the last to scoot down the road and the others were waiting for me where the road branched. I thought we would sleep right next to the dock but Kenny thought it’d be good to go over to Refrigerator Camp so we rode the extra mile to that camp. When we got there it was still light out and we set up our camp and visited for a little while before going to sleep. We had gone up a mountain, down a mountain, had dinner and rode all the way to the lake in a day. And we had been blessed with great weather but it was cooling down a little bit and the forecast said there would be a chance of precipitation.

It was glorious to sleep in. I think we got up around 8.00am and hung around camp for a while. I woke up in the night and had to go to the bathroom and when I looked up I saw a tick. I thought it was on the outside of the tent so I didn’t really care. But the next morning Mike said something about pulling a tick of himself and the tick that was above my head turned out to be inside the tent!! Yuck! Mike got it out! We had some breakfast and snacks and mostly talked and joked around. I laid in the tent and kept my eyes closed for a while because it was so nice. But I had to laugh when John crept up to the mesh on the tent and said “I will cuuuuh’t you”. Pat went and took a dip in the water this morning and a little after 10.00am in the morning we got moving on the bikes to head over to the ferry dock. By this time it was definitely sprinkling. We got incredibly lucky with the weather window. We waited under a tree by the dock for the ferry to come. Then loaded our gear on and headed over to Stehekin. When we got off the weather was just pleasant. No rain and we headed over to the bakery. We had a lovely time eating and talking and laughing. We then headed back to the ferry. At some point John stopped to take pictures and when we got to the boat he wasn’t there. I thought for a moment he wasn’t going to make it, he sure was cutting it close! The whistle had already blown for the 10 minute warning before he had come whipping around the corner on his bike. And then we took the boat back to Field’s Point, jumped in the cars and headed home. We got back to the park and ride around 8.00pm. All in all a fantastic and fun alpine trip. 

Trail Conditions –

Trail conditions were quite good. After the lake it is a little brushy but there is a faint trail through the trees and brush that leads to a better marked path marked with cairns on the way to Holden Pass.

Objective Hazards –

Slick scrambling up a waterfall, rockfall, glacier travel.

Gear –

Ice axe, crampons, helmet, harness, 4x 30m 8mm ropes, 4x cams, 1x set of nuts, 8 runners with biners, webbing, cordelette etc.

Water –

Running water available on the trail to the lake occasionally, water at the lake and some water running down from the pass. We were fortunate to find a snow patch at the pass that had enough water coming out of it to pump.

Animals –

A couple deer and chipmunks.

Bugs –

Mosquitos are out now. Ladybugs also. And I think I got bite by a fly!

Flora and Fauna –

Lots of flowers! Beautiful fields of flowers on the way to Martin at the pass. Yellows, red, white and some purple.

Lessons Learned

  • A fire can be a useful way to dry out your clothes when you are soaking and it is safe to build one.
  • Even a small hole in the bottom of the tent can let bugs in.

 

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Tupshin, Devore, & Flora (July 4-7, 2013)

Tupshin (8,320ft) and Devore (8,360ft) and Flora (8,320ft)

July 4-7, 2013

 

Linsey Warren

John B.

 

-- Day 1 --

Arrive Stehekin – 12.00pm

Arrive Weaver Point – 12.45pm

Bird Creek Camp – 3.40pm

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Basin Camp – 6.00pm

 

-- Day 2 -- 

Depart for Tupshin – 5.30am

Base of Tupshin rock – 8.00am

Tupshin summit – 11.45am

Basin camp – 3.00pm

Depart basin camp – 3.30pm

Upper lakes – 5.00pm

Devore summit – 7.15pm

Basin camp – 10.00pm

-- Day 4 --

Rise and Shine depart – 5.00am

Tenmile Pass – 7.00am

Holden Village – 9.15am

-- Day 3 --

Depart basin camp – 6.00am

5,400ft camp – 12.00pm

Depart 12.30pm

Fourth Col – 2.00pm

Flora summit – 5.30pm

Fourth Col – 9.15pm

5,400ft camp – 12.00am

This trip just had so much to it I’m not even sure where to begin. Originally, John and I planned on climbing Dark and Bonanza but due to mine remediation and potential thunderstorms during the crux of the trip so we quickly redirected (literally on the car ride up) and went for the Tupshin, Devore and Flora traverse. We had four days and that seemed like a push, especially considering this ‘mine remediation’ meant that we absolutely had to catch the bus at 10.45am from Holden Village to get the ferry out of Lucerne to get home because the road was closed and it didn’t run on the weekdays.

So on the drive up we decided to head for the traverse, we bought our tickets and then ran quickly into Chelan because I needed some bagels and pop tarts. We dashed back to the ferry, parked the car and boarded! And per our usual luck I ran into someone I knew. Gretchen Lentz and her friends were headed out to try Flora! And funny enough as we got talking we got onto the subject of how to get to trailhead from Stehekin. The standard way is to catch the bus up the road and then hike back three miles towards the Weaver Creek Trailhead. But it was hot and we had heard rumor that sometimes you can convince someone to ferry you over on their boat to the campground. When we got into Stehekin we asked around but no one seemed interested or able and being the fourth of July weekend people were more interested in other things. John and I kind of gave up quick since the bus was going to leave in fifteen minutes and the next one wasn’t going to leave for two hours. So it was catch the bus or take the chance of trying to get a boat ride and potentially save time. So when it looked like we weren’t going to find someone we hopped on the bus. Three miles is just three miles after all. But when it looked like Gretchen and company might have found a ride we stalled the bus driver to find out and the poor guy was waiting while we tried to figure out our situation. As it turns out Phil had found a guy that would ferry us over to Weaver Camp and drop us off. So we grabbed our packs and ran off the bus while John yelled ‘Keep the money’ at the bus driver. It was like a scene from a movie. And as that happened I cut my finger on something and it started to bleed. Right out of the gate! First blood!

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This nice gentleman (Adam?) filled up the lower part of the boat with all of our packs and we all squeezed onto the back benches. Combined we donated $60 to be ferried across and saved hours. We didn’t fully appreciate how much it had saved us until we started going up the dusty switchbacks from the lake in the hot midday sun. And then we were blessing Phil and Gretchen’s group. When we got off the dock I had to put a bandaid on because the little cut just kept bleeding! Then I changed into shorts because I was looking to get a little sun on my casper shade legs. We packed our bags and said our adieus and headed off. From the dock at Weaver Point follow the signs northwest towards the Devore Creek Trail. It heads up a little into the hills and then follows old power/telephone lines for a ways until it crosses a river on a log with a handrail and shortly after that (heading north) there is a sign on the left hand side indicating the Devore Creek Trail. From here we followed up the steep switchbacks towards the mountains. This trail gains elevation surprisingly quickly. Shortly after the trail heads back towards the river it becomes very brushy and the trail is a bit uneven so what underfoot. It’s fairly straightforward but if it became more overgrown it might be hard to follow. I had to stop and put my pants back on because my legs were getting scratched and itchy. We followed the trail for about four miles until we hit the Bird Creek camp sites at about 4,250ft. It’s a nice little campsite. We stopped and enjoyed the momentary clear space and pumped water from the creek before heading uphill. We originally headed uphill into the brush on the north side of the creek (climber’s right) and it was fairly straight forward for the first several hundred feet but we ran into brushy sections and the tendency was to keep moving farther north (climber’s right) which worked okay we just ended up having to traverse some steeper cliffy sections. It had clearly been done before as we came across a cairn. As we traversed back to the south (climber’s left) to get back to the basin between Tupshin and Devore I whacked my knee (same knee that got whacked on Buckner not a week before) and it hurt intensely. At this point we were hot, tired, bleeding and frustrated and the mosquitos were starting to come out. And since it was getting later in the evening we decided to continue on and head to the basin. We traversed around the edge of the cliff band into the basin between the two and made camp at about 5,800ft. There aren’t a lot of flat places in the meadow so we just threw our bivies out. I wasn’t too excited to get bit by mosquitos and was not having a good afternoon so John let me crawl into his hooped bivy and he pumped water and got dinner going. It was a nice birthday gift! As it was my birthday! So I iced my knee with a bit of snow John found in a patch not too far from where we were camping.

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We called it a night early but I really wasn’t too keen on sleeping in a medium height grass slant with no mesh on my bivy – who knows what would want a cuddle in the night!! So John and I decided to see if we could fit two people in his bivy. We actually did get the thermarests in and us with our sleeping bags but it was a bit of a tight squeeze and I woke up a few hours later with my arm numb because the fabric had been pulling so tightly on it. Time to get up and get into my own bivy – experiment over and I just wanted to sleep!! We set the alarm for 5am or so and got moving at around 6am. From the basin we headed almost immediately north up the meadowed slopes. It is fairly straight forward picking a line up and the brush thins after a short period of time. After the massive bushwhack of the day before this wasn’t bad at all. We followed it until we intersected the southeast tending arm off of Tupshin at about 7,200ft. We crossed over the ridge and ran into our first solid patches of snow in the traverse over to the southeast basin of Tupshin. We tried to kick steps without crampons but that early in the morning it was still a little crusty so at about halfway across the traverse into the southeast bowl we put on crampons and booted up to about 7,600ft where the snow ends at the base of a steep rocky face. There are several ramps that head climber’s right. We took the middle ramp which inclined up towards a tree at the base of a chimney with a small chockstone. We scrambled up this chimney and then decided to leave my pack behind. From here we roped up and headed up short steep rocky sections and then veered right when we hit a ramp. Although the ramps often headed towards a corner the scramble route often did not go around the corner. So in this fashion we continued upwards until we hit a quite steep looking section that was near the upper right (east trending arm) and that is where you can go straight up or traverse around the somewhat exposed corner. Both end in a similar spot it’s just that the corner puts you out a little higher, which is what we did, and we had to scramble down a little gulley section to get back to the scramble section. In this case the ramps traversed back (climber’s) left and up to the base of another chimney. This is where the low fifth class section is. It’s not too bad I didn’t it in my mountaineering boots. After this chimney the grade lessens a little and we continued climbing straight up. One full pitch brought us to the upper ridge section. From here the easiest way may be to scramble the eastern ridge up to the summit. We, however, followed another chimney as it didn’t feel exposed and it was about a half a pitch to a three quarters of a pitch up loose rock to the summit. This cleft/chimney we followed brought us out right between the notch in the summit. Lovely. The top was really loose. As John was coming up I had to yell ‘Rock Rock Roooock’ at least once or twice as they were knocked loose by the rope.

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Since we were planning on doing Devore this same day we only had a quick bite and then got ready to descend. I must say I wasn’t overly excited about descending since it was a bit loose. But on the way up we had passed several rappel areas which helped us know which way to descend. So we made several rappels back down. There were a couple goofy rappels where we started in shrubs and all our gear got caught on stuff. John got half caught in some shrubs on his way down and I had to laugh but it wasn’t as funny when I went and the whole rack got caught all over the trees! We rappelled to the base of the route and scrambled the last section back to the snow. The snow was fairly hard still, surprisingly, so we put our crampons on and started walking down. It was quite steep for a bit but the run out is fine so we headed down. I had my ice axe in my hand and a piece of poptart I was eating in the other and I slipped as I was scooting half down face forward and had a chunk of poptart in my mouth. I started sliding so I went into arrest and stopped after about 10/15 feet. I got up and looked at John and was like ‘Did you see that arrest?!’ and he was like ‘She didn’t even drop her cracker!!’ referring to the fact that I just slid and kept the poptart in my mouth. I was proud of that! I slipped and went into arrest but I didn’t lose any part of my poptart! Shazaaam! That’s how it’s done! It happened once more that I slipped and went into arrest so I took off my crampons which were balling up and plunge stepped down the rest of the way back to the ridge and back down into the basin. We arrived back in camp at around 3pm. We knew we wouldn’t have time to dolly around a lot so we refueled on water and snacks and about thirty minutes later we headed out. Although it was funny when we arrived in camp John noticed that the spare two liter bag he had filled was half empty. And we have no idea why it was half empty unless a critter came along and had a sip and put the lid back on. Other than that it showed no signs of having been chewed on.

From our camp in the basin at 5,800ft we headed immediately south up a snowy ramp (will be rocky and scree when melted out) until a basin immediately to the north east of the lakes. This is the correct way – not via the waterfall on the northwest side of the lakes which we thought about for a moment. From this scramble we worked our way up and to the highest scramble point and then worked left through a small lightly treed section at the base of another higher basin. From this basin we scrambled up the scree and snow to the upper rim (there are trees up the center) and this put us out at the northeast side of the lakes at the base of Devore’s north side. From the lakes we worked our way up the snow to the ridge. We did not head to the lowest point on the ridge because it looked steep and like it might have a small cornice still on the top and to the right there was a rocky notch so we headed for that. The snow was fairly good consistency and John kicked steps up. I was starting to feel the day at this point and we were still carrying the rack and rope as we had heard that people rappelled off the top of Devore as well. From the ridge we travelled west along it. The top was fairly easy to traverse but we did have to drop about 20/30 feet below the ridge on the south side and scramble along scree for part of it. It is fairly straightforward just follow the ridge until it hits a large darker shaded hump on the ridge. From a ways off it looked unclear how we would get around but as we got closer we realized all we had to do was hop on the snow to the climber’s right (north) and scramble around the dark knob. It was easy and straight forward and not exposed. We hopped off on the ridge on the other side and traversed over to a gulley and up the gulley. It’s a bit loose and rocky here but not too bad. Once we topped out on the gulley we could see that the ridge turned northwest and what looked like the summit. It’s a fairly straight forward class 3 scramble over to the ‘false summit’. Just below the false summit there is a class 4 possibly with a couple class 5 moves to get up to the next scramble section (its only about 20-30 feet). From here I belayed John up and I scrambled up to what I thought was the summit but as soon as I got near the top I could see the true summit was northwest behind this one. It looked hard to get to at first so I back tracked down and John came over and looked and saw a ramp around the corner. So we rounded the southwest corner and followed a ramp over to the base of the actual summit. From here we roped up again and I led up the class 4 potentially class 5 (with boots on) little section. But there looked to be a gulley around to the southwest of the summit that could be scrambled without a rope.

That being said once we topped out and it was getting later in the evening we decided to snap a couple pictures on John’s phone as my camera had been left behind at the original step/rope up to the false summit. After the photos we set up a rappel to rappel the 80/100 feet back down to the notch between the two summits and from there we followed the ramp back around to the step before the false summit and rappelled back down to the scramble section. We packed up our gear and wasted no time hauling off as the sun was going to be setting very soon. We followed our tracks back down and my knee started to act up. Not the one that had been bashed in the day before but the other one. Okay. Weird. But no time to fiddle around. We followed our route back the way we had come up and made it to just below the lakes when the sun set and darkness moved in. I was scooting on my butt on the snow where I could to avoid using the knee but the last bit we had to do scramble down and in the dark we got a little bit off and bushwhacked around through bushes we hadn’t been through on the way over just to cross the stream/river to get back to the camp. And we made it! And this time John’s rock shoes were laid out on the ground where he hadn’t left them. Mystery remains. Our camp got moved around a little. Im still not quite sure how. There were deer milling about all day that weren’t scared of us so maybe they rooted around a little? Either way I’m not sure. But we were pretty darn tired once we got back into camp at around 10pm. We pumped water and made some mountain house dinner before we crawled into our sleeping bags and tried to sleep. But for the second night in a row we didn’t get great sleep. Odd but at least the stars were gorgeous.

The next morning it was hard to get up and get moving but we had a long day ahead of us and I was concerned my knee would hurt enough that we’d have to turn around and head back to Stehekin to guarantee we’d make a boat out. And neither John nor I had any or a lot of drugs. I had a couple packets of Tylenol but that wasn’t going to be enough if it got real bad. So we bushwhacked back towards Devore Creek trail. This time we made sure to head straight down following closer to the Bird Creek River. It was a bit steeper and brushier but overall it went fine. John might say otherwise since he had to go first to clear the spiders and climb through the slide alder. Once we regained the trail it was like throwing a small party. We came out right at the campground which was awesome because that’s just about as clear as the trail got. We had a quick break and then continued to follow the Devore Creek trail uphill and south. We had to ford a small creek/river at one point by taking off our boots and wading across. It was actually a good wake up call for my feet. After that we followed the trail for a few miles until we intersected the topo at 5,100ft where we had read there was camp to stage out of in order to get to Fourth of July Basin. We never came across a camp and we had a hard time distinguishing basins because all of the maps intersected or were broken up right in this area and the information we were reading just wasn’t great. The whole trip the beta was kind of bad. John and I talked about providing better beta but at some point John said that we shouldn’t that everyone else should have to suffer like we had! And that is probably why it has remained like it has for so long.

At about 5,500ft we crossed the Devore Creek River. We had to cross a little higher up the river as the water was a bit high and there was no easy way to cross. We still got a little wet but it worked fine. We made our way back to the main trail and found that right on the other side of the river crossing was a great campsite. We decided this was it. Drop our gear and make this our staging ground for Flora. It was just about noon when we arrived so we stopped and pumped a little and dumped our gear. It was bushwhack from here up to the Fourth of July Basin (which was northeast traverse around the base of an arm into the basin. At one point John was crawling over a log and snapped off a branch that was dead and yelled ‘This is how I feel about this trip!!!’ as he threw the branch down on the ground roughly. We bushwhacked (same slow annoying going) up until we hit a rocky boulder talus basin and then continued up that until we topped out at the col at about 7,200ft. In this Fourth of July Basin we must have hit some sort of limit because everything was cracking me up! I couldn’t stop giggling and laughing. Just looking at John’s broken up pack with broken straps and wholes all over it (mostly from this trip) to stilly random thoughts floating around my head. We sat down and I just giggled. John told me it was better than crying. Haha I guess that’s what it was.

From this col we thought we could see Flora but you actually can’t you can see Point 7,734Ft. The summit is northeast from the col so up the climber’s left. There is a small looking boot path that could carry up and over to the ridge but we weren’t sure and there wasn’t a lot of information so we dropped down and traversed around at about 6,900ft. Once we rounded the corner we decided we would head back up to gain the ridge because we weren’t sure where we were or where we were going! We gained the ridge and then seeing as it was already since it was already 2.15pm we were questioning whether or not we should continue. The ridge was long and it was going to be a long traverse. We decided to have a 4pm turn around and go as far as we could and if we were within striking distance we would go for it. So we literally flew like the wind around the ridge until we were about a third of the way between Point 7716 and Point 7734 and that is when we realized that the ridge was going to take too long if we were going to follow it. The quickest and easiest way for us at that point looked to drop down into the valley and then up Flora via the southwest slopes. So that is what we did. We plunge stepped into the Castle Creek Basin and then up the steep mostly open but treed slope to get to the plateau below Flora. It was a bit of a steep scramble in one or two spots but presumably if one were to work around further to the north it’d open up into a wider gulley. Either way straight up to the plateau from the basin at 6,600ft worked fine. Once at the plateau the snow tapered off a bit and it was mostly a melted out scree fest to the top. It wasn’t the works but it was still scree. So John dropped his pack and we combined into one. From the base of the plateau it’s only about 1,000ft to the top.

So we scrambled up as quickly as we could. At this point after the long days we’d put in I was really feeling this and I periodically had to stop and take a breather. John joked that it was like going up Everest and we were doing the rest step. So I jokingly made loud breathing sounds like an oxygen mask and that’s about what I had the energy for. We scrambled to the top. It’s an easy scramble of class 2 or 3 to the top. Once we got there we took some photos and I added some cold water to our Mountain House Chicken Salad. I was starving and kept feeling sick because I needed water and food. But as I started to munch on the mix a giant spider crawled across a rock near me. Not funny. I scooted off and told John if it came back it’d be a problem. Of course it came back so I scooted right up next to John. We didn’t dally about long and John carried the pack on the way down. We hadn’t finished the chicken salad, really we only had a few bites but we were wiped and it was getting late. So I stashed the remaining chicken salad in the pack and left. We had made the summit around 5.30pm and we left around 5.50pm. We followed our same tracks back and it felt so surreal. We were tired and there was still sigifnicant ground to cover to get back to where we had dropped our gear. So we went down into Castle Creek Basin and back up to the ridge and instead of following the ridge which was time consuming we dropped down into the upper Riddle Creek Basin and around to the col catching up with our original steps at around 6,900ft where we traversed.

The sun was setting and we were trying to get as far down as we could before it become totally dark. But we knew we were going to be doing the bushwhack in the dark and that wasn’t sounding pleasant. We made it to the Fourth of July Basin upper col as the sun set and we glissaded down the upper portion to where it was sections of talus and snow and walked back to the original boulder field where we had entered. At this point it was totally dark and finding our way was by headlamp. We headed into the brush and started making our way back. It felt abominably long. The great thing about John and I as a team is that when one of us is tired or dragging usually the other has enough energy or momentum to keep the team going and this is where John picked it up and went first on the bushwhack in the dark but his headlamp started dying. Of course. So we stopped in the cluster of bushes and tried to change out the batteries but we couldn’t get the headlamp open and we were at high frustration levels already. And with thunder and lightning just north of us we were ready to keep moving. So I gave John my headlamp and I used his slowly dimming one on the way out following in his steps. We got cliffed out several times and had to make our way. And as we went the GPS showed signs that the battery life was running low. Oh great. What else?! Well as it turns out the what else showed up not too long later when I looked down at John and said ‘Where’s your gaiter?’ and he looked down at his leg and noticed it was gone and he looked back hopeful for a moment and then said ‘It’s gone’. The straps had gotten banged up and broken earlier and I guess the brush just ripped it off. Our backup plan was to make it to the river and then traverse back to where we thought camp would be about.  It wasn’t ideal and we did make it back to camp before the batteries died. Praise the Lord. But it was midnight when we made it back. I told John I wasn’t going to cook anything or pump any water I was crawling into my sleeping bag and going to bed. It was a twenty hour day and we needed to be up in four hours to hike out to try and catch the Holden bus. I tried to have a snack of the chicken salad and whatever else I could scrounge up cold but the chicken salad had exploded in my pack… awesome. I’d be lucky if animals didn’t come savaging around in the night. I crawled right into my sleeping bag and passed out. I didn’t sleep that great and I kept waking myself and John up with my incessant babbling. Apparently I was talking about 10.45. Go figure.

We woke up as the skies were grey and there was little light but we were exhausted so we slept in another thirty minutes. But after that we got up and packed up and headed out. We followed the trail for a little while until we crossed a creek and right after we stepped over this tiny creek we lost the trail in the snow and brush. Crap. John and I just did not have time for this. We searched around but we couldn’t find the trail so we headed off in the direction we suspected it might generally go and hoped that we’d intersect it at somepoint other than that I guess our plan was to bushwhack to more open terrain? I don’t really know. It was an exhausted hope and a prayer at this point. Thankfully we intersected the trail and it carried us up and over to Tenmile Pass. We descended off the pass and realized we just weren’t losing elevation that fast and we wanted to be extra certain that we didn’t miss the last bus out of Holden (aka the last plan out of Saigon). And because we weren’t seeming to gain ground that fast we started doing a slight jog downhill. John yelled ‘double time’ and said he felt like he was in the military running with a full pack. So I gave him a good couple hooouu hooouuu’s! We worked our way down to about 5,000ft which is where the trail gets rougher but right now it is currently well marked with blue flagging. So it’s easy to follow. We were expecting the hard part of the trail to be between 4,700 and 4,300ft where the trail does not appear on the map but actually that was okay. The only real issue here was that we had to cross a river and we didn’t want to take off our boots and it was quite wide and fairly deep in some spots (perhaps a foot and a half two feet) so I put on my gaiters and ran across. Later in the year I suspect this is not so much of an issue.

From 4,700ft we easily followed the trail down. We ran into our first people about a mile and a half from the town of Holden right after John got a tremendous cramp in his leg. He was limping and struggling to keep walking. We were officially approaching ‘mess’ status. As we descended our back up plan was to cut straight to the road if we had to and run in front of the bus! But since we could hear the giant construction machines in the valley from halfway up to the pass we did think twice about running onto the mine remediation road. We hustled to Holden but my feet felt like they’d been beaten with a stick and I could barely walk but we had to get there before we took a long stop because otherwise it’d be hard to get going again. And at long last, we walked into Holden Village. It was a ghost town because of the mine rehabilitation so we made our way to the registrar and paid for our exit out of the town. We had missed breakfast by 15 minutes. Bugger. So we stumbled to the front of the building and dropped our packs. I pulled out some of my gear to dry and pulled off my boots to let my trenchy feet dry out a bit. As we sat there these aggressive little chipmunks ran up and started chewing on my pack! Little blighters! They actually found an already partial hole in my hip pocket that had a small whole in the gorp bag and really made it a treat. We couldn’t keep them away. We heard tales of how they’d come into town and steal the food of your plate. Awesome. So we arrived in town at 9.15am and waited for about an hour and a half talking to the people in town and learning about the mine rehabilitation while our stuff dried out. And we had to laugh at the state of John’s clothes on the trip – his whitish gray shirt was just an unrecognizable shade of dirty!! And his pants had smears all over them. He had changed into a new shirt for the way out. A courtesy shirt. I was in my courtesy shirt too but was in a similar state of just dirty.

I started to doze off in the middle of the walkway. John told me I should probably be mindful of the people but honestly it was the best spot and there weren’t that many people! We were two of the five people that road the bus down. We made friends with them and continued to chat while we waited the couple hours for the Lady Express to arrive. When we boarded there was a trail of gorp on the gangplank to get on… guess who’s pack it was from? We got on and I pretty much passed out. I was out for what I’d guess to be an hour. It was so hot. And on the ride back we learned that on the fourth of July a fire had started out near Chelan. Once we got back to the dock we quickly grabbed our packs and got off and headed for the car. As we crossed the main street and headed up to the car holding area I tripped over my own shoelaces that had got caught on the metal clasps on the shoes and since I didn’t have any straps on the pack done up the pack went up over my head and I went down onto the pavement. What a way to end the trip. But in some ways it made sense. We quickly changed and headed into town for a snack and on our way in we ran into the same fellows who caught the bus with us from Holden so we picked them up and dropped them off at their car in downtown Chelan and we decided to join them for pizza. John and I got their first with just enough time for me to knock a glass of ice water all over the table before the other two gents arrived. We had a lovely lunch/dinner before we got in the car and headed home! The trip felt a lot like a dream. Several times John and I commented on how surreal and fast time moved. And to lend even more to the surreal factor John kept calling the peaks those peaks we climbed. Haha I don’t know if he remembered them the first couple days. But by the second or third day he had come up with a new name for Tupshin – Tupshit which turned into Tough Shit. And then John came up with Devore as ‘Devour Me’.

Trail Conditions –

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. The trail was clear in some spots and disappeared under brush and other debris in other places. Overall it was okay to follow but in several sections it was hard to follow.

Objective Hazards –

Rockfall, navigation, lightening and general exhaustion. There were a couple small river fordings. If it was during the heavy meltout time of the year the rivers may be hard to pass as there are no bridges.

Gear –

Rope, rack, 2 pickets, crampons, ice axes, harnesses. We did not use the pickets.

Water –

There was plenty of water for the majority of the trip as there is still enough snow melting that being said later in the year without any standing glaciers for melt off there might be a limited supply. The last 1,000ft of each peak had virtually no water supply.

Animals  - 

Lots of deer!! My goodness! Also the sound of whistling marmots and some aggressive little chipmunks in Holden.

Bugs  -  

Yes. Mosquitos, spiders, and a wide variety of other flying insects. One of which I swallowed so we’ll never know about that one.

Flora and Fauna –

Flowers were starting to appear lower down. Lots of glacier lilies.

Lessons Learned

  • It’s hard to drink enough water.   
  • Two people can fit in John’s bivy in a real pinch!!
  • John and I make a good tired/powered duo! When one is tired the other helps push on!
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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}   This is looking up the South side of the route to the 7,200ft arm on Tupshin.

This is looking up the South side of the route to the 7,200ft arm on Tupshin.

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}   Approximate route up - real approximate. It looks very different while on the route!

Approximate route up - real approximate. It looks very different while on the route!

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}   Looking up the scramble route to the lakes below Devore.

Looking up the scramble route to the lakes below Devore.

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}   Looking up from just east of the lakes towards the ridge at about 7,400ft.