Date: January 11, 2012
Destination: “Chokwich” 5662 & West Twin Peak 5840 (USGS Bedal)
Party: Matt, Dicey, Yana, Gabriel, Lindsay
The trip ascended Chokwich Peak and the west summit of Twin Peaks, approaching from Perry Creek. We used the same route reported in Stefan’s trip report.
We hiked up Perry Creek, then continued east to the 5450 high point on the ridge above Perry’s headwater basin. This point is actually a Y-shaped junction between the ridges extending north to Forgotten, south to Twin Peaks, and east to Chokwich. From there we took the east branch down to a col and back up to Chokwich. Later, returning back to the Perry Creek side, we traversed south and up to the Twin Peaks col and climbed West Twin Peak.
For ease of reference, I am assigning names to the features where we spent most of the day:
• The long north-south ridge at the head of Perry Creek connecting Twin Peaks & Forgotten is “TwinGotten Ridge.”
• The 5450 junction point is “ChokTwin Point.”
• The col between ChokTwin Point & Chokwich is “Chokwich Col.”
“I’ll just stay in your footsteps” (Dicey, descending to Chokwich Col)
Dickerman TH 1889 to Perry Creek Waterfall 3350 (7:00 – 9:00am)
We started before dawn from the Dickerman trailhead. It was cold enough that my car’s trunk still held the frosty handprints that people had made while we were loading up in Seattle. As we walked the 1.25 mile connector trail to the Perry Creek trailhead, we were treated to glimpses of the moon setting behind Hall and pink alpenglow lighting up big Four.
The Perry Creek trail has only an inch or two of snow, but it was frozen so hard in the open areas that we had to don crampons. Those stayed on for the rest of the day.
Perry Creek Waterfall to ChokTwin Point 5450 (9am – noon)
The northern cliffs of Dickerman made an impressive wall on our right. Flurries of spindrift periodically swirled down. Beyond the Perry Creek waterfall, we angled up and right across open slopes, crossing to the headwall of the basin just above a waterfall coming down from the Dickerman/Twin col. This whole upper Perry basin was wide-open avalanche terrain; I wouldn’t want to be here in anything but very stable conditions.
To ascend the basin headwall, we ran from lower right to upper left, angling just below a rock band, and then up through small trees up to the lower-angled band circa 4900 feet.
Unfortunately, Lindsay wasn’t feeling well, so she and Gabriel stopped here and went back to the car. The rest of us cached our snowshoes in the upper basin and continued. There was a hard crust under the newer snow, and I wouldn’t have trusted the snowshoes not to slip on steeper slopes.
As we neared neared the crest, the sun finally appeared, as a hazy ball through the high clouds. The opposite side of TwinGotten Ridge was wildly corniced and cliffy.
ChokTwin Point 5450 to Chokwich Col 5200 to Chokwich 5662 (noon – 1:20pm)
Yikes! How do we get down off of that? We very carefully poked our heads over the edge near trees till we found a spot north of the point where we could cross between cornices. Then we had to make our way down the steep crest to the col, working around rocky outcrops. Stefan’s group didn’t mention any problems, but it was quite intimidating to us, with cliffy drops below and cornices hiding the edges. The snow was stable, but there was a hard crust about a foot down, so we placed every step carefully, because a fall would have been very difficult to arrest.
From the col, it was much easier terrain up to Chokwich on the far side.
Chokwich Summit (1:20 – 2:40pm)
The broad summit ridge of Chokwich was a welcome relief from the edgy travel.
Looking back at TwinGotten Ridge, it was impressive to see how steep and deeply cut the terrain is in this area.
Views from Chokwich summit:
I tried to take a group photo. On my first attempt, a wind gust blew the camera off of the pole just as the timer went off. It caught one frame of the sky, one frame of the approaching snow, and eight frames of darkness after landing lens-down. After some time cleaning out the snow, we made a successful group photo.
Chokwich to ChokTwinPoint to Snowshoe Cache 4900 (2:05 – 3:15pm)
On the way back, with the steps already kicked in, I had the luxury of taking more photos of the route.
Retracing the connecting ridge across Chokwich Col:
Crossing the ridge:
West Twin 5840
“I like sunset summits.” (Yana, proceeding to West Twin)
Snowshoe Cache to Twin Peaks Col 5630 (3:15 – 4:05pm)
Above our heads, the sun crossed a line in the sky. All day till now, the clouds had been a hazy bowl overhead. But now the sun dropped below the cloud edge out west, with clear sky all the way down to the horizon. Fine prospects of evening light and alpenglow! We decided to continue onward for a sunset climb of West Twin Peak.
We raced the sunset in a shadowy traverse south across the basin. At Twin Peaks col, we crossed back into the light as tinted toward evening color.
Twin Peaks Col –West Twin Summit Notch 5800 (4:05 – 4:30pm)
We traversed westward below the summit rocks to reach the large gully that is directly below the summit. At the top of the gully we veered briefly left up the steepish, and then went up right into a narrow gully with trees. This brought us to the crest at the notch between the summit on our left and its eastern fin of rock on the right. Just beyond our feet, the corniced edge opened onto a thousand foot drop down the other side.
The light deepened and intensified from shining gold to molten orange.
We popped out onto the crest just in time for the pink blaze of alpenglow across the surrounding summits.
West Twin Summit 5840 Belay (4:30 – 5:45pm)
We geared up and anchored around a dead tree. The sun was below the horizon below we started up.
The summit pitch was short but awkward, because snow coated and masked the rocks, but wasn’t deep enough to kick steps. So it was a lot of kicking and hacking at the snow to clear off the rock enough to make a path. Coming down was even more awkward, trying to pivot and slide-step down a bulging rock in the middle.
We went up one at a time to tag the summit. The photos below were long exposures using the last bit of indirect light from the sky.
Dicey and Yana made their ascents by headlamp, as the evening dropped to full dark.
Exit (5:45 – 9:00pm)
Then we had the fun of packing up and following our tracks all the way back down in the dark.
We arrived at the trailhead to find my car just as we had left it – all alone in the darkness in the big empty parking lot. First in, last out. A note from Lindsay and Gabriel indicated that they had found a ride home. We started the car and began changing gear. Then I turned the headlight switch, and the car went totally dead. No electricity, not even a faint beep. Now it felt really cold and dark and late. But then I remembered that I hadn’t had the right wrench to fully tighten the battery clamp when I put in a new battery recently. I wiggled the loose clamp, and everything came back on. Hooray for light and heat and transportation.
Stats: 11 miles, 5480 gain, 14 hours
Historical Footnote, Twin Peaks 5/9/2004
Back in May 2004, I had climbed Twin Peaks with mtnmike by approaching from the south. To reach West Twin from the Twin Peaks Col, however, we hadn’t traversed over to the gully that we used today. Instead I remembered scrambling up onto the rock and traversing on a ledge to get to the notch below the summit area. Why the difference? Looking back at old photos, I could see why. In late spring or summer conditions, the gully snow was broken, but the rock was dry. However, now in winter, the rock was icy, but the gully was snow-filled.
Either way, West Twin’s short summit pitch was awkward, especially that one big smooth rock below the summit. Without snow, you had to just hand onto the edge and slide your whole body down it till your feet hit the step below.
-------------- “As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Another stellar trip by you and your crew! I really like how you always take the time to snap pics throughout the entire adventure - even at tricky spots where photography is difficult. The full picture set tells the complete story of the day.
Many of Matt's TR's inspire to follow in his footsteps. Most of them, including this one will stay out of reach for most of us.
How exciting to live vicariously through his story telling and pictures.
Thanks Matt, for another great one!
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