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seattlehikertoo
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seattlehikertoo
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PostSat Oct 23, 2010 12:25 pm 
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Sperry-101019

Damon and I started up the Sunrise Mine trail (elev 2280) at nearly 1pm, on our way to Lake Elan and then to summit Sperry. Neither of us could think of a better way to spend the afternoon during the waning moments of fall weather in the mountains. And who could argue? The wind was absent and the temps were perfectly cool as we sauntered up through the forest for first half mile. There are a few creek crossings, two of which still require some semblance of balance, with the major one being at .56 miles (you are actually crossing south fork of the Stillaguamish River). After the crossing, when you traverse the steep meadow, the trail was rather slippery and damp from all the cool nights.

When we entered the upper Wirtz Basin (1.75mi, elev 3200), we were under crystal clear skies and a glaring sun for late October. We followed the cairns on an upward traverse across the lengthy talus field. The footing was surprisingly good through there. By the time we got to the head of the basin (2.75mi, elev 4300), we were more than toasty. By the time we arrived at Headlee Pass (3.2m, elev 4675), we were sweating.

I should note that the sign at the TH is INCORRECT. It is 3.2 miles to Headlee Pass and the elev is 4675. I've been there 4 or 5 times before and get nearly the same reading on my GPS. It is slightly under 3 miles only if you avoid the trail through the small forest in the upper basin and stay on the talus just below it, taking a straight rising traverse to the head of the basin. However, the travel is slower going this way.

We crossed the talus field on the south flank of Sperry without incident, though I feel we should have been wearing helmets for that quarter-mile stretch. We arrived at the lake outlet (3.55mi, elev 4861), with the tranquility of the stream relaxing us so much that we decided we'd grab a lunch break at the lake (another 2/10mi) to soak in more rays and enjoy the peacefulness of an alpine afternoon.

After feasting on a sandwiches, cookies, and brownies, we departed for the "toothpick" and the "lone tree," which sit atop the saddle above the north end of the lake to the right of the low point. We ended up just going to the low point on the saddle (4.15mi, elev 5280). It was easy to pick up the boot path there and follow it right (east) toward Sperry. The boot path runs for another 1/4mi and ends at a talus field. It is at this point I think people get confused as to the easiest route to the top.

SperryRouteSaddle-101019
SperryRouteSaddle-101019
SperryRoute-101019
SperryRoute-101019

We headed straight for a white stripe in the middle of the talus field, which is visible from the end of the boot path.
End of boot path. Head for white stripe in the center
End of boot path. Head for white stripe in the center
Rock cairn near end of boot path. Head for that white stripe just to left of center.
Rock cairn near end of boot path. Head for that white stripe just to left of center.
Follow the stripe. There are some cairns marking the way, but you head for the little patch of meadow in the upper center. Look for a small tree with orange flag. Do NOT go left into the meadow when you get there.
Follow the stripe. There are some cairns marking the way, but you head for the little patch of meadow in the upper center. Look for a small tree with orange flag. Do NOT go left into the meadow when you get there.

There are cairns that take you right to it if visibility is poor. After following the stripe, you can continue to use the cairns to lead you to an orange ribbon in a tree below a ten foot wall of granite boulders on top of which is a forest of small conifers.
Sperry-101019 - 076
Sperry-101019 - 076

You will angle up and to the right on the boulders there (Do not get suckered into going left into the meadow unless you to do some higher class scrambling).
Boot path fades here, but you may be able to spot cairns. If you look right of the lake, you can see the boot path
Boot path fades here, but you may be able to spot cairns. If you look right of the lake, you can see the boot path

A boot path should be visible through the trees there. Stay on the main boot path that heads steeply through the trees and into an opening where you'll come to an junction of boot paths.
Go thru here on obvious path
Go thru here on obvious path
Head for the rocks in upper center
Head for the rocks in upper center
Follow the boot path to right
Follow the boot path to right

Stay to the right on the better one, and head across the slope. It appears that the trail disappears only 50 feet away, but just duck under the trees there, and turn left up the hill through a weird looking snag.
Boot path appears to dead end, but only minor dead snags and trees to climb through and obvious path continues
Boot path appears to dead end, but only minor dead snags and trees to climb through and obvious path continues
Climb over this
Climb over this

A good boot path reappears on the other side of the snag. Follow this up the slope again with only minor brush shrouding the path and you will again come to a junction. Go left and up another 50 feet to what appears to be a dead end, but to your right, there will be some steep rocks and a short easy class 3 gully for maybe 30 feet.
Sperry-101019 - 058
Sperry-101019 - 058
Sperry-101019 - 066
Sperry-101019 - 066
Sperry-101019 - 063
Sperry-101019 - 063

The exposure is minimal, but you can stay to the right (there is a faint boot path here as well) and climb over a small tree. From here, its easy class 2 scrambling for another 50 to 75 feet to the summit. The total distance was about 4.65 miles to the summit (elev 6062). Thus, this entire section from the white stripe is only a quarter mile or less.

Vesper from near Lake Elan
Vesper from near Lake Elan
Mandatory cheesy summit shot
Mandatory cheesy summit shot
Another cheesy summit shot
Another cheesy summit shot
Looking ESE at Monte Cristo with my nemesis Kyes
Looking ESE at Monte Cristo with my nemesis Kyes
Sperry-101019 - 027
Sperry-101019 - 027
Looking E to Glacier and Sloan
Looking E to Glacier and Sloan
Looking NE at Pugh on left and I am guessing Dome on the right
Looking NE at Pugh on left and I am guessing Dome on the right
Looking NNE at White Chuck left, Pugh on the right, with Forgotten center. I am guessing that's Snowking sticking above Forgottten
1 label
Looking NNE at White Chuck left, Pugh on the right, with Forgotten center. I am guessing that's Snowking sticking above Forgottten
Big Four and Baker
Big Four and Baker
Three Fingers and Big Four
Three Fingers and Big Four
Sperry-101019 - 036
Sperry-101019 - 036
Sperry-101019 - 042
Sperry-101019 - 042
Looking mainly SSE to Del Campo and Gothic with Morningstar in the middle. Daniel and Hinman in the distance upper right.
Looking mainly SSE to Del Campo and Gothic with Morningstar in the middle. Daniel and Hinman in the distance upper right.
Kyes and Columbia
Kyes and Columbia
Sperry-101019 - 050
Sperry-101019 - 050
NW view.
NW view.
NE view
NE view
Pointing NW to Baker
Pointing NW to Baker
Glacier and Sloan with the moon rising in the afternoon
Glacier and Sloan with the moon rising in the afternoon
Sunset on Lake Elan. This one is worth waiting out
Sunset on Lake Elan. This one is worth waiting out
Getting darker and better.
Getting darker and better.
Moon over Morning Star. Must be Jupiter bright as can be below the moon.
Moon over Morning Star. Must be Jupiter bright as can be below the moon.

On the way down, make sure you don't get suckered into the trees near an orange ribbon just off the summit. It will get you back down to the talus field, but only after a series of tree belays and unpleasant footing.
This is the best way down and up.
This is the best way down and up.
Don't follow that orange flag. It's the beginning of multiple tree belays.
Don't follow that orange flag. It's the beginning of multiple tree belays.
Mosaic in the granite
Mosaic in the granite

Total time up: 3:45
Total elev gain = 4600ft
Total round trip distance = 9.2 miles
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Dayhike Mike
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Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Posts: 10980 | TRs | Pics
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Dayhike Mike
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PostSat Oct 23, 2010 12:53 pm 
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Great beta! I've never seen good details posted re: the top bit of scrambling. Thanks for the info and pics! up.gif

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"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
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jhiker
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Joined: 24 Jul 2006
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jhiker
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PostSat Oct 23, 2010 3:34 pm 
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Thanks for posting the beta on this one.

Your summit pictures are incredible.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/48897736@N00/
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Magellan
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Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Magellan
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PostSat Oct 23, 2010 5:00 pm 
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Nice to see a picture of Damon too.  up.gif
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the Zachster
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the Zachster
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PostSat Oct 23, 2010 8:06 pm 
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Thanks for such a detailed report! up.gif  I've looked at Sperry from Vesper several times but never bothered to try it. Now I must!

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"May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am"
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