Forum Index > Trip Reports > North Star Mountain via Spider Gap/Lyman Lakes 11/2-3/19
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Jake Robinson
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Jake Robinson
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PostSun Nov 03, 2019 11:09 pm 
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I've wanted to do North Star for years because of its view of Bonanza and position near Cloudy Pass, and was thrilled when Selena agreed to try it with me this weekend. We knew that conditions could be tricky and figured that if we couldn't get to North Star, we could probably at least make it to Spider Gap and Upper Lyman Lake.

We left the TH at 9 AM Saturday with heavy packs - snowshoes, boots, crampons, ice axes, and winter camping gear. The creek crossings on the Phelps Creek Trail were mostly frozen and proved tricky. Patchy snow started below Spider Meadow and the postholing began in earnest at about 6000', just below the flat area at the base of the Spider Glacier.

Creek crossing on the Phelps Creek trail
Creek crossing on the Phelps Creek trail
Spider Meadow
Spider Meadow
Trail up to Spider Gap
Trail up to Spider Gap

We donned snowshoes at the base of the Spider Glacier and snowshoed up to the gap. Good snowshoeing from the gap about halfway down to Upper Lyman Lake, then frozen choss and postholing after that. Many f-bombs were dropped as we postholed our way around the lake (we found a better way on the return). We briefly switched to snowshoes below the upper lake and then back to postholing as we made our way down to the lower lake.

Red Mountain above the Spider Glacier
Red Mountain above the Spider Glacier
Snowshoeing up to Spider Gap
Snowshoeing up to Spider Gap
Spider Gap
Spider Gap
Upper Lyman
Upper Lyman
Upper Lyman with Sitting Bull, Cloudy, and North Star above
Upper Lyman with Sitting Bull, Cloudy, and North Star above
Cloudy, North Star, Bonanza
Cloudy, North Star, Bonanza
Lower Lyman Lake, Chiwawa
Lower Lyman Lake, Chiwawa

More postholing and snowshoeing led us to the meadows below Cloudy Pass. We found a nice flat campsite with running water at ~6600' SE of Cloudy Peak. It had been a long day of postholing, I was spent.

Snowshoeing to Cloudy Pass
Snowshoeing to Cloudy Pass
Cloudy Pass
Cloudy Pass
Chiwawa above meadows
Chiwawa above meadows
Greenwood, Dumbell
Greenwood, Dumbell
Lower Lyman Lake from near where we camped
Lower Lyman Lake from near where we camped
Evening colors on Bonanza
Evening colors on Bonanza
Dusk at camp with Dumbell and Greenwood
Dusk at camp with Dumbell and Greenwood

The next morning, we left camp at 5 AM and tried to make the route work in the dark. Luckily, the traverse over to North Star is all easy - pretty much anything goes. Mostly gentle ramps and low-angle traverses. We generally made an ascending traverse east on snowshoes, and pretty soon we found ourselves below the summit block. We climbed a short gully to the notch just SW of the summit, ditched the snowshoes, and scrambled icy boulders to the summit. We topped out exactly at sunrise, down to the minute.

Figuring out the route in the dark
Figuring out the route in the dark
Climbing the gully
Climbing the gully
Almost to the notch
Almost to the notch
SW ridge of North Star with Fortress, Glacier Peak
SW ridge of North Star with Fortress, Glacier Peak
And boulders to the top
And boulders to the top
Summit
Summit
Needle, Anonymity Towers, Dark, and Bonanza West Peak
Needle, Anonymity Towers, Dark, and Bonanza West Peak
Bonanza
Bonanza

On the way down I opted for crampons and Selena stuck with snowshoes; both were about equally effective. We had camp packed up and were headed back to the car by 9:45 AM. It took about 7 hours to get back to the trailhead from where we camped - getting back up and over Spider Gap was a slog, but we managed to choose a better route around the lakes that minimized postholing.

The conditions made this a tough trip, but all the postholing was worth it for the views and solitude. I never expected to make it to such a place in November, we got really lucky with this weather window and I'm glad we took advantage of it.

Headed down
Headed down
Hiking back with Bonanza
Hiking back with Bonanza
Clouds rolling in below Fortress
Clouds rolling in below Fortress
Near Cloudy Pass
Near Cloudy Pass
Back up to Upper Lyman
Back up to Upper Lyman
One of many gear transitions
One of many gear transitions
Spider Glacier
Spider Glacier
Seven Fingered Jack and Maude
Seven Fingered Jack and Maude
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neek
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 7:51 am 
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That looks...cold.  I haven't ever seen that area in November, thanks for post(hole)ing.
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RichP
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Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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here and there
PostMon Nov 04, 2019 7:56 am 
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A rare treat indeed to get that far in in November.
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Bluebird
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Bluebird
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 9:00 am 
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A fantastically beautiful, remote trip for November. We only saw one party on the trail the whole trip... pretty amazing for a 30 mile, 8500+ gain route in a typically popular area. Probaby because it was such hard work past the Meadows <3

My additions: Stream crossings on Phelps Creek were definitely hazardous. It was warmer on Sunday than Saturday and that made it even more tricky. Poles and creativity helped. This includes Leroy Creek-- the first (closest to TH) braid was actually worse than the wider main creek section.  Not frozen enough to walk on top, but not enough rocks/not icy logs to make it easy going.  Spider Meadow was really muddy. Really muddy. There were a lot of frozen waterfall, etc. on various cliffs. One of them broke off right above us on the trail section towards the Spider "Glacier", throwing ice cubes down right in front of us. Worth being aware of, yikes! Someone must have hiked most of the way to upper Lyman from Holden-- there were some postholes in the snow, but not all the way to the lake. Looks like you could reach Lyman Lake from Holden with minimal snow. Quite a few trail sections were icy, sometimes not obviously so until stepping on them. North Star route- it really helped our success that Jake scouted out and found a campsite option closer to the open traverse section. Getting to where we camped in the dark would have been hard, the options are steep side hilling with some minor scrambling or bushwhacking through thick trees. Both are short, but in the dark.... I believe our campsite only 1.5 mile from the summit made success as possible as it was!

Day 1 was about 5000 gain, 13+ miles. Day 2 was about 3700 gain, 17+ miles. Thanks for breaking trail over 3/4 of the way, Jake! (Me: Sure I can break trail ~breaks trail for a while~    Jake: I think it's more efficient if I break trail...... (yeah, it is more efficient)) A hefty trip in the snow. Here are my photos biggrin.gif

+ near upper Lyman Lake

Lyman Lake is partially frozen
Lyman Lake is partially frozen
I finally catch up to Jake on the North Star summit. The rocks were rime ice and it took me a few minutes to find a good route up.
I finally catch up to Jake on the North Star summit. The rocks were rime ice and it took me a few minutes to find a good route up.
sunrise
sunrise
a postholey descent in crampons with gorgeous view of the Lyman Lakes, all the peaks and a bit of cloud near Cloudy Pass, how apt <3
a postholey descent in crampons with gorgeous view of the Lyman Lakes, all the peaks and a bit of cloud near Cloudy Pass, how apt <3
approaching cloudy pass
approaching cloudy pass
en route to upper Lyman lake again. You can see the faint mark in the snow where the actual trail route is.
en route to upper Lyman lake again. You can see the faint mark in the snow where the actual trail route is.
the flats of upper Lyman Lake below us
the flats of upper Lyman Lake below us
lots of icy cliffs above Jake
lots of icy cliffs above Jake
what's left of the Spider's glacial ice, with a fresh layer of 2019 snow on top
what's left of the Spider's glacial ice, with a fresh layer of 2019 snow on top
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MangyMarmot
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 9:01 am 
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Awesome trip! Great potos.
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geyer
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 9:10 am 
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What a place to be in November! The sunrise summit must have been awesome
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Michael Lewis
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 9:28 am 
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nice!
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Backpacker Joe
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 9:34 am 
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That looks Turbo cold.  LOL.  Great trip.

--------------
"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

Abraham Lincoln
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~*CutebutChossy69*~
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~*CutebutChossy69*~
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bluebagprincess
PostMon Nov 04, 2019 10:01 am 
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Stunning photos. Nice work getting back there this time of year. Great TR to get a sense of current conditions for those of us who refuse to believe peakbagging szn is over :P Thx for sharing!

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Choss is a girl's best friend
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OutOfOffice
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 10:54 am 
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up.gif  up.gif
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Magellan
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Magellan
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Brutally Handsome
PostMon Nov 04, 2019 1:47 pm 
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Incredible story! That took a lot of heart. Incredible pictures too! Thanks for sharing.
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cascadetraverser
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 2:17 pm 
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👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 Another amazing trip in adverse conditions. I am really amazed how far and deep in the Cascades you got this time of year.
Well done!
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Gwen
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Gwen
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LO Girl-of-the-Month
PostMon Nov 04, 2019 10:46 pm 
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Pure magic!

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Tomorrow's not promised to anyone, so be bold, scare yourself, attempt something with no guarantee of success. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve. -Olive McGloin
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Bluebird
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PostTue Nov 05, 2019 7:55 pm 
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Thanks for the compliments, ya'll. It was a fabulous trip! I'm glad Jake suggested it.

FYI: Peakbagging season is never over biggrin.gif Just time to switch to winter summits! <3
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~*CutebutChossy69*~
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PostWed Nov 06, 2019 8:53 am 
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Bluebird wrote:
FYI: Peakbagging season is never over biggrin.gif Just time to switch to winter summits! <3

Yaaaaaas that's the spirit!

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Choss is a girl's best friend
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > North Star Mountain via Spider Gap/Lyman Lakes 11/2-3/19
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