Forum Index > Trip Reports > Buckindy High Route   July 2 - 9
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cascadetraverser
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 10:17 am 
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For some time, I have paged through Beckey`s Green book and looked at this high route, wanting to do it.  I have also stared at this subrange from Huckleberry Mountain and the Ptarmigan Traverse thinking it would be fun and interesting.  The Beta on the Buckindy is pretty slight, but what is there is very helpful.  I planned the trip way earlier than our usual Cascade traversing time, given the particularly odd weather year we had, but we could have done the route a month ago for better conditions.




Day one:  Tom (long time co-traverser), my wife Tihut (a veteran of two prior trips) and I set off from Green Mountain with the thermometer rising quickly. The cool forest gave way to hot slopes and en route we ran into a super cool elderly man, Vern, who had spent 3-4 days out there along the early part of the route and he gave us some tips. I should also add, just as we set foot on the trail, we met Jim, Eileen, Kevin and Fay who were just about to depart to climb Misch and Buckindy.  Who would of thought of it, two groups headed out to the lightly visited sub range at the same time? (Word from Fay was, Stefan F. was on his way in as well, but we never saw him...)
Before long we hit the final trail portion at the flank of Green at 6100 feet and started the true HR.  The first slope to the next rib went smoothly and views to Glacier Peak, especially were amazing. The second slope was another story with irregular rocks and covered by knee high brush at a high angle which made for a frustrating end of the first day. We dropped down a steep forest and stopped in a cool green rocky basin with a perfect swimming pond nearby. Literally minutes later the climbing group of four arrived, and we chatted about the fun brush bash and days to come. After a swim they took off and we settled down in a cool grassy flat spot in the needed shade.

Green Mt Trailhead
Green Mt Trailhead
Vern the man with the Eiger Sanction hat
Vern the man with the Eiger Sanction hat
Enjoy the trail while you can.
Enjoy the trail while you can.
Take a right below the lookout and walk for 6 days
Take a right below the lookout and walk for 6 days
Not many Cairns on this route
Not many Cairns on this route
Looks easy enough, I wonder why all the complaints about this area?
Looks easy enough, I wonder why all the complaints about this area?
Becky suggests crampons are an option in this area
Becky suggests crampons are an option in this area

Day two:  We got up early to beat the heat (each day we got up earlier and earlier!) and instead of heading to the notches above (as suggested by Klenke`s excellent Summit Post Mt. Misch report) traversed to the next shoulder through first tame brush and then super steep forest and rounded the bend to see the next portion of the route.  The super steep forest was annoying and tough but doable.  The next stretch was lovely through a basin and creek and up to the forests, meadows and rocks beneath point 5890.  Once at the top, a great view of what was to come and all around lay out.  We ate lunch and drank lots of water and dropped down a welcome boot/game path north heading to the pass (Horsefeathers pass, JR calls it) below.  Once through there, we headed straight up the steep, intermittently hot, wooded slope.  At one point, we had to climb a hot twenty foot class 3 stretch in the blazing heat, not too much fun....Finally got up to the cross over point into the broad cirque below Mt. Misch at and crossed a minor rib and then did a nice meadowy route which eventually cliffs out below Mt. Misch; you then follow the edge of the cliff line down and it dumps you into another great grassy camp staring straight up at Misch.  Thought we would run into Fay and Company there, but we would meet later....Really nice camp and a beautiful bathing stream right there. Enjoyed some nice Mescal and cool air and easily slept.

Above "Horsefeathers Pass" Ah Roper and his Marx Bros references
Above "Horsefeathers Pass" Ah Roper and his Marx Bros references
In desperate search of shade.
In desperate search of shade.
A class 3 move with 50# packs in the hot sun? Bring it on!
A class 3 move with 50# packs in the hot sun? Bring it on!
Clear views, for now.
Clear views, for now.
Alpine wanderings in view of Mt Minch
Alpine wanderings in view of Mt Minch

Day 3:  An even earlier wake up to the company of our four fellow travelers, who had smartly and bravely dropped all but the bare essentials at Horsefeather`s pass to make a fast light trip to Misch and Buckindy and had succeeded, coming into camp past our bedtime!  We traversers were impressed!  They looked cold and hungry but super happy and we both headed out in opposite directions.  It was a real pleasure to meet such great people in such an extraordinary place... The route up Misch`s flank went fast and cool and soon we landed on the small glacier between Buckindy and Misch that would lead to the glacier on the other side of the divide.  The trip was brief and after finding the proper notch of two, easily dropped onto the North Buckindy Glacier.  Prior to departure the few reports I had read, suggested a two rappel drop off the Kindy Buck pass further northwest as the best way to the other side of the divide but a good source suggested this way over.  The glacier route snaked around a surprising amount of deep crevasses with little room to spare (my wife was not too thrilled) and we eventually dropped down a relatively steep glacier ramp to the scoured rocks below. A huge ice fall loomed above so we moved fast and found a nice rock bench to eat lunch happy we had gotten through.  We weaved our way through the rocky benches and witnessed the above mentioned ice fall drop two big calves above us luckily far away.... The next bit of travel was awesome with looming rocky Buckindy crags above and lovely rock/moss gardens all around. We found a nice green heather area to relax and decided the view of the Buckindys there was too great not to spend the night gawking at (the traverser`s mindset!) and resting so we made camp, happily chatted thinking the hard part was behind us (oh, soooo wrong!) and set up a tarp for shade and took it all in.
Fay and Kevin after a chilly bivy
Fay and Kevin after a chilly bivy
A look back to day 2's route
A look back to day 2's route
On the snow looking for the notch that gets you on the Buckindy Glacier
On the snow looking for the notch that gets you on the Buckindy Glacier
Turns out being raised in rural East Africa is good preparation for this kind of travel.
Turns out being raised in rural East Africa is good preparation for this kind of travel.
First sight of Eldorado from the notch.
First sight of Eldorado from the notch.
Buckindy Glacier
Buckindy Glacier
Kindy Creek
Kindy Creek
We were guaranteed easy snow fields, I'd like to have a word with the manager.
We were guaranteed easy snow fields, I'd like to have a word with the manager.
No lingering in this area.
No lingering in this area.
Momentary AC then back into the blast furnace.
Momentary AC then back into the blast furnace.
glad we brought the tarp, needed the shade.
glad we brought the tarp, needed the shade.

Day 4:  The earliest departure yet with a crack of dawn (3:30!!) wake up and departure by 5:00.  Tom is our alarm clock as he always is a dawn riser and his scurrying about the campsite is a nice gentle wake up.  We headed to the next green rib, passed it easily and then dropped down a steep rock/heather path with nice veggie belays en route.  Then began a long somewhat tedious boulder/slab traverse heading to Snowqueen (aka Mutchler) Peak in the distance.  Fortunately the rock benches and moss gardens were beautiful.  We got a look up at the Kindy Buck rap which didn`t look like loads of fun.... The basin immediately below Snowqueen was really lovely and the heather ramp system that Tom Sjolseth mentioned in his post a few years back (Thanks Tom) was straight ahead. I suspect his route was much better than the unpleasant backpacking stretch Beckey mentions in the Green guide.  The heat was intolerable, but thankfully the ramp system zig zagged perfectly skyward with a cooling breeze on the way.  We were pretty hot and tired once we arrived at the large glacier fronting Snowqueen and rested and ate.  I contemplated a quick climb but thought if we were to make more distance tonight and hopefully get to Cyclone Lake, I should conserve energy and move on.  We roped up and it soon became apparent that a full easily traveled Mutchler glacier was not to be.  It was somewhat cracked and broken and eventually we were forced to a pinch point between the cliffs above and a small blue ice section/crevasse below.  It was a bit gnarly and involved a ginger crampon walk over blue ice to a jump into a shallow soft crevasse and then up. A short time later, we got through.... The next snow was steep and lead to a rocky bench and we were pretty spent, so decided to bivy in the rocks for the night.  Several flat boulders and a small rocky pond provided the spot we needed and the weather was clear.  All day we had seen the smoky haze unmistakable for fire, cloud the horizon and fill our nostrils (reminiscent of the smell of a developing world town, and it brought back memories to all of us of the time we have lived/spent there).  We rested and ate.  I was pretty sure the rest of the hard snow travel was over and rested accordingly but my wife wasn't so sure and she slept fitfully.

Got up to take some moon rise images.
Got up to take some moon rise images.
Alpine start
Alpine start
Not really looking forward to the sun
Not really looking forward to the sun
No really it feels a lot like the Pickets
No really it feels a lot like the Pickets
Is this the 2 rappel cross over point?
Is this the 2 rappel cross over point?
98 degrees in the sun
98 degrees in the sun
Edge of the Mutlcher Glacier
Edge of the Mutlcher Glacier
Putting on crampons for the brown sections
Putting on crampons for the brown sections
The Mutchler Glacier had a few more obstacles than advertised.
The Mutchler Glacier had a few more obstacles than advertised.
As good a place as any for a gearsplosion
As good a place as any for a gearsplosion

Day 5:  We packed up and headed towards Snowking following the high snow fields.  A very steep snowfield en route took some time and we passed it and it connected us to the flank below Snowking`s summit. Tihut chilled out in a green heather oasis, while Tom and I climbed Snowking.  Easy class 3 rock pinnacle.  The view below gave me the view of the next 2-3 days of the traverse.  We searched long and hard for the register to no avail...oh well. Tom and I down climbed to Tihut`s lunch spot and we headed down.  The edge of the glacier made quick time and then a rocky ramp system was fun down to Cyclone lake. We found a great spot just north of the lake.  Unfortunately the one campsite had three fire pits (???) and we did some wilderness gardening and eliminated two.  Just near camp were great rock platforms for easy swimming and the rest of the day was spent fishing (not much luck), eating, sipping scotch and talking.  Beautiful place.  Late in the evening the mosquitoes arrived in full and after dinner we retreated to the tents.  Our original plan was to spend a rest day in the Found Lakes basin but that was not to be....

Smokey sunrise
Smokey sunrise
Smokey Sunrise
Smokey Sunrise
Snow King
Snow King
Summit of Snow King
Summit of Snow King
Snowfield on the east side of Snow King
Snowfield on the east side of Snow King
Snow King climbers trail
Snow King climbers trail
Cyclone lake and Snow King
Cyclone lake and Snow King

Day 6:  Another early start and wake up to swarms of mossies made the thought of a lost day off much more tolerable.  We skirted around the lake and then dropped down the outlet stream and skirted over to the large valley leading up to a beautiful pass.  The valley was unusual, flat and lovely with pools and a winding stream.  A nice ramp led up to the pass with great views all around which we referred to as Ethiopian pass in honor of my wife`s ethnicity and Hamar lake (per the USGS maps) lies right below.  I suspect the naming has nothing to do with the Hamar tribe of southern Ethiopia but it was good for morale and fun...I did a rather long scout out of the pass trying to find the best way over to the forested pass above Arrowhead lake.  If you drop 2-300 feet a nice heather bench leads towards the pass first in nice meadows and then through steep forest.  The forested pass came soon and then we dropped down rocks and scree to Arrowhead lake.  Interesting transition from grand Glacier Peak environs to a scene that would have fit in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  Fishing was good and we cooked up fish and rested and swam.  A very nice break in the late afternoon heat.  Unfortunately the bliss was soon to end.  My binocs suggested the route from Arrowhead to Whale lake would be no walk in the park but the steep, brushy, hot, sustained 1000 feet of sustained veggie belays was excruciating for us all. No matter where I tried to divert us in the micro terrain, there was no escape.  Ugh.... Finally I crested out to the flat meadow ridge and shouted my joy. Not only on top but a perfect heather ramp led to the small lakelet above Whale Lake.  Exhausted we slid on our buts down the steep heather and then swam, ate and fell exhausted into bed while the swarms of mosquitos swarmed overhead.

Mosquitos? Well a few.
Mosquitos? Well a few.
Ethiopian Pass in the distance
Ethiopian Pass in the distance
The first Ethiopian at Ethiopian Pass! As far as we know.
The first Ethiopian at Ethiopian Pass! As far as we know.
Arrowhead Lake
Arrowhead Lake
The photographer had a little fit at one point on this part
The photographer had a little fit at one point on this part

Day 7:  We hoped the car would be our final destination, but unbeknownst to us it was not to be.  We headed east down to Whale Lake proper and avoided some steep cliffs and rounded the outlet stream.  Whale lake looks totally pristine with absolutely no sign of human activity.  Not fabulously beautiful, but totally remote. From the outlet stream, we headed up and around the next timbered ridge and in not too long were up in steep meadows heading towards two peaks in the distance and the ridges on either side. We traversed nice meadows and rock but soon found our water supply dwindling in the hot temperatures and the whole slope looked dry.  Thankfully we saw a snow patch 1/4 mile away and realized it could be our only water source for the foreseeable future.  We dropped out packs and Tom headed over to the patch and melted snow and added the cold stuff to our camelbacks for a big water supply.  Onward we traveled. A few minor ribs lay ahead and then a major cliffy ridge lay right in front. I had bunoc`d a nice route through it from afar but close up, it looked a lot more formidable for passing with heavy packs as tired as we were.  On reconnaissance, an extremely unpleasant steep dirt gully was one route and a class 3 exposed game ramp above were the only routes across. Above was a serious rock climb to the summit and forest to the valley below.  After a pow wow, we all took our packs to the start of the ramp and managed to cross it w/o too much trouble.  Beyond, we were all tired but traversed the steep heather and then spotted the ridge we hoped would lead to Bear Lake and the trail below.  We could stay high or drop low, but the map contours suggested either way would work.  Our water needed replenishment so we dropped down a zig zag heather forest ramp to the lonely lake below.  Should we stay or late in the afternoon, move on to the car. It wasn`t too hard a decision and exhausted, we stayed put.

This group took a licking but kept on ticking
This group took a licking but kept on ticking

Day 8:  It was Tom`s daughter`s birthday and he had a gig to attend that night, so a super early start commenced in nice meadows but soon turned into thick tangled brush and fortunately ended shortly thereafter in the forest.  We then dropped and traversed down planning on landing at Bear Lake. Several hours of steep timber, huckleberry and some evil alder and we ended up dropping into the grassland south of Bear Lake.  The trail was supposed to be nearby and per the maps we headed in the direction of where we thought it would be. It is a pretty, grassy, flat and bird filled, unusual and seemingly out of place. One quarter mile later, we found the vague now grown over path heading north. We followed it and I should have know better, as further on it ended in broken timber and once again we headed north cross country. In not too long, the landscape looked wrong with clear skies to the east and a stream and downward slope. This did not fit with the contours suggested by the route into Bear Lake per the USGS map.  We stopped viewed the maps (no GPS, would have been handy then), and headed west back to the likely right path/route.  Sure enough the path was there and this time flags showed us the way through the now chaos/trail that was left.  No further obstacles awaited and the faint green path took us to Bear Lake at last. From there, a bonafide trail led to La Rush Lake.  Knowing we were soon done, we took a last joyful swim and then shortly thereafter arrived at our waiting car at the La Rush TH. Finished!!!!

Parting thoughts:  Hard, but fabulous traverse in a lightly visited area. To me, this was a mini Pickets trip with tough approaches, big glaciers, spires and great scenery.

Thanks to my excellent traverse partner, Tom with the perfect up-beat attitude and can do it approach and my wife, Tihut, for venturing out with me at my suggestion to test her limits of off trail travel. She was awesome. The team chemistry was perfect!
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Goats Know
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 10:34 am 
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Awesome!  I always look forward to reading your traverse TR's each year!

up.gif  up.gif

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DIYSteve
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 10:44 am 
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Great TR and pics, Marc up.gif Looks like an adventurous route. Ballsy doing it in such a low snow year.
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Distel32
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 12:31 pm 
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Goats Know wrote:
I always look forward to reading your traverse TR's each year!

I second that up.gif
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Brucester
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 3:45 pm 
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cascadetraverser wrote:
The photographer had a little fit at one point on this part
The photographer had a little fit at one point on this part

A labor of love.... A calendar pic we can all relate to?!

Sweet TR!
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Kascadia
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 4:15 pm 
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Did this back in ~1991 with husband and friend - remote and beautiful country.  I guess it's a sign of the times that you actually saw someone else in there - we were the 25/26/27 people to summit on Buckindy (1st ascent 1964).  The previous party had been a year or two earlier - the Skoog brothers wrapping up yet another high country traverse.  We DID go down Kindy Buck Pass (and just rappelled the last 30 feet or so, we were afraid the ropes would pull the rocks out) and I can tell you,
ya missed a mighty thrill. . .  eek.gif

Congratulations, that trip is an honest couple of days work, but oh so worth it!

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Man, stretch thy reason hither, so thou mayest comprehend these things. Johannes Kepler
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raising3hikers
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 4:21 pm 
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very nice up.gif extra cool that Tihut joined you for another trip

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contour5
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PostFri Jul 17, 2015 6:23 pm 
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Spectacular TR!
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silence
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PostSat Jul 18, 2015 1:00 pm 
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Totally awesome .... way to get 'er done! And, a most excellent TR!  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostSat Jul 18, 2015 1:35 pm 
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cascadetraverser wrote:
The photographer had a little fit at one point on this part
The photographer had a little fit at one point on this part

Oh, that looks familiar.  I found plenty of action like that taking a "shortcut" from Mica Lake back to the Suiattle River TH via Lime Ridge.  I also threw a fit.  Multiple times.
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RichP
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PostSat Jul 18, 2015 1:38 pm 
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You guys are tough to do that during the great heat wave of 2015.
Fantastic report up.gif
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cascadetraverser
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PostSun Jul 19, 2015 4:51 pm 
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Thanks for the kind comments, all!

Steve: Thanks and I am not sure it was ballsy or not; I have over the years found one way or another to put this trip off for one reason or another and this year Tom and I really focused on trying to do it, no matter what.  More snow would have been helpful particular on the glaciers and some of the traversing (but it would have been even hotter!) for ease of travel but fortunately we made it w/o too much trouble...

Kascadia:  Really cool you did this trip as well.  My suspect is quite a few parties go in to climb Misch and Buckindy as they are in the top 200 peaks in Washington, but I suspect the full traverse is done rarely.  Glad I missed the fun rappel!
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glenoid
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PostSun Jul 19, 2015 6:00 pm 
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Nice TR Marc and Tom! Glad I wasn't there......
Did you shell out the dollars for a McHale Pack Marc?
Will see how I do in a few days.  smile.gif
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the Zachster
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PostSun Jul 19, 2015 8:42 pm 
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Wow...the things we do for a good time!  winksmile.gif
Great trip report...thanks for sharing your story and pics!

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Magellan
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PostSun Jul 19, 2015 9:30 pm 
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Great story and pictures.  up.gif  up.gif  Buncha badasses!
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