Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4070 | TRs
Destination: Devils Peak 5456 and Devils Thumb 5172 (USGS Silverton)
Party: Matt, mtnmike, Randy, Beave. Plus three other groups also at Devils.
Note: Randy & Craig already posted a trip report for the Devils Peak segment of this trip, with lots of photos. Im posting a separate report in order to include the routes for both peaks combined.
This trip included:
Bad weather forced Mike and I to cancel our Diobsud outing for the third week in a row. But Randy & Craig were going to Devils Peak, so we joined up with them. Devils Peak & Thumb are two of the last few peaks Mike hasnt climbed on the Silverton quad.
- Closed and overgrown roads Deer Creek & Coal Creek
- Very good snow for travel into and above a high basin Devils Lake.
- Traffic jam for climbers Devils Peak
- Interesting scrambling Devils Thumb
- Good summit views all around the Mountain Loop Highway area, and especially the Three Fingers Range
- Missed opportunity for a swim miniature icebergs calving into Devils Lake
Deer Creek Gate to Devils Lake
At the Deer Creek parking lot (1575 feet), there was a red truck that Mike believed belonged to inveterate peak-bagger Mitch Blanton. While we were there, another group arrived, also heading for Devils.
We departed at 7:50am. The gate was unlocked, but the road was unusable because of numerous downed trees. We hiked the Deer Creek Road for a mile to the abandoned road along Coal Creek (1948 feet), then the Coal Creek road for 1.5 miles till it met the Devils Lake branch of the creek (2650 feet). The road along Coal Creek was variably brushy, with a decent boot path on early parts, but more brush later. Circa 2500 feet, it turned to solid snow cover, for easier travel.
Deer Creek Road Gate
Trees down on Deer Creek Road
Brush on Coal Creek Road
View back to Big Four from the road
Snow cover near the end of the road
We turned uphill and followed the left side of the creek up to the beginning of the Devils Lake basin circa 3700 feet. The snow was in great condition and the previous party had already kicked steps, so it was easy travel. At the basin, we had a good view of both our destinations in the distance ahead.
Survivor Tree along the way the cedar limb at right is growing from the silvered trunk
View of the summits from Devils Lakes basin
View with routes marked
Devils Lake to Devils Peak
From the basin, we just angled up the snow to reach Devils Peak, which was the furthest point on the left-hand ridge. With the sun out, it we were baking in the snow bowl on the way up. The snow took us right up to the notch at the left-hand side of the summit block.
Heading up from the basin
Nearing the summit block
From there its a short class 4.5 climb up to the ledge, traverse left on the ledge, then go up through some trees and walk back right to the wide summit area. I decided to check it out, found lots of good holds, and scrambled up to the top, 5456 feet, arriving about 12pm. However, my efforts were worthless to the rest of the group, since I neglected to grab a rope first and trail it behind me. Mike also scrambled up; Randy and Craig roped the climb up to the ledge.
The climbing pitch up the jumble at left, right on the ledge, back left on the crest
Craig and Randy at the notch; Mitch & Steve at the base of the rappel
Vertical Stitch Craig starting to climb
Mike photographing the climbers
We enjoyed wide views of the Mountain Loop peaks, especially the Three Fingers area. I tried to ignore Liberty teasing me.
Mike near the summit, with Devils Thumb behind.
Matt & Three Fingers Peaks
At least I climbed everything on the horizon of this shot Three Fingers, Salish, Bullon, Buckeye, Whitehorse
Looking Northwest: Big Bear to Whitehorse
Looking north to southeast: Whitechuck to Big Four, plus Craig's helmet
360 View from Devils Peak, panning clockwise from Helena Lake to Helena Lake
We descended by returning to the ledge, and then rappelling to the base of the face. The ledge turned out to be a prime social gathering place. You could also call it a traffic jam. On the way up, we had met Mitch and Steve getting ready to rappel down. Later, when we descended, we had to wait while the other group from the parking lot crossed the ledge. Then before we rappelled, we had to wait for the group of two from the parking lot to pass by. While we were rappelling, another party of three came up the snow below.
Meeting Mitch & Steve on the ledge
Meeting the next group on our way down
Getting cozy on the ledge
Yet another group approaching
Devils Peak to Devils Thumb
By the time we finished the rappels, it was 2pm so Mike and I needed to move along to get to Devils Thumb. First we needed to run the ridge down to col between the peaks and back up to the base of the Thumb. The snow again made for easy travel on what otherwise would have probably been impassably steep rock slabs. We trotted down the crest, then descended on the lefthand (northwest) side to bypass a rock outcrop, came up a little bit to the 4400-foot col, and then ascended on the righthand (southeast) side of the crest to reach the wide snow gully a few hundred feet higher. From there we ascended snow, went left of the light-colored rock outcrop, and exited via the leftmost narrow gully to the crest. You couldnt do this if there was much less snow. The exit gully was close to breaking apart at a schrund.
Coming off Devils and turning toward the Thumb
The Route to Devils Thumb
Head toward the light-colored rock, then go left of it
With rock scrambling ahead, we dropped our packs. The last couple hundred feet was 3rd-4th class rock scrambling. It looked thin in few places, but judicious route-finding revealed just enough flakes and outcrops to keep secure along the way. It's a pleasure to travel with someone like Mike who's thoroughly competent at handling mountaineering challenges, whether steep snow, steep rock, or route-finding.
On the summit, we enjoyed another half hour break, while banks of clouds turned darker and more threatening, but left us mostly clear.
Matt & Devils Peak
Mike drying out the register
A brief nap in the brief sunshine
Getting a rise out of Devils
Clouds around Thee Fingers
Clouds moving in on Big Four
Pan looking northwest: Helena to Jumbo
Devils Thumb to Mountain Loop Highway
We left the summit at 4pm and retraced our route to the wide snow gully.
Down-climbing Sequence 1
Down-climbing Sequence 2
Down-climbing Sequence 3
Turn left descend 20 feet and arrive at pack; turn right - drop 2000 feet and arrive at Helena lake
We angled toward the head of the basin and then trotted down slopes to Devils Lake.
Log that glissaded into Devils Lake Basin
Mike arriving at the basin. Our route was on the irregular big blob of snow right of the col.
I angled around the east side of Devils Lake, so I could admire the melt patterns of the snow calving into the lake. If we had more time and I could have found a path down to the water, it would have been an invigorating setting for a first swim for the year.
Devils Lake 1
Devils Lake 2
Devils Lake 3
Devils Lake 5
Devils Lake 8
Devils Lake Final Reflection
From there it was just a long jog back down the snow and down the roads to our car, arriving at 7pm.
As beacons mountains burned at evening. J.R.R. Tolkien