Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sourdough, Sourpatch, Stetattle (March 29-30, 2013)
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 3974 | TRs | Pics
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostThu Apr 04, 2013 11:04 pm 
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Dates:  March 29-30, 2013
Destination:  Sourdough 6107, Sourpatch 6607, South Stetattle 6495 (USGS Diablo, Prophet, Ross)
Party:  Matt, mtnmike, Dicey, StephAbegg

Camped high atop a snowy peak, a rare crux of springtime fortune graced us with both clear winter light and warm summer sunshine.

Early in the morning, pastel light above the rising sun blended across the sky into deep blue shadows below the setting moon.

On this morning before Easter, the world seemed to sing out Gloria in Excelsis, glory in the highest. 

Morning on High
Morning on High

Our target destination was Sourpatch Mtn, the 6607 point that rises northeast of Sourdough Lake.
But really I'd take any excuse to camp high on Stetattle Ridge again, and enjoy the great views overnight. 
As it worked out, all of us camped atop Sourdough Mountain, three of us went to Sourpatch, and Steph went to both the Sourdough Lookout and the south summit of Stetattle Ridge.

I pirated Steph's map of the trip because it's prettier than mine
I pirated Steph's map of the trip because it's prettier than mine

Friday

Sourdough Mountain Trailhead (900 feet) to Lake 5916 (9:45am – 3:15pm)

We took the winter route to Stetattle Ridge – follow the Sourdough Mountain Trail as far as possible, then go straight up the ridge crest to Lake 5916, which lies right at the junction between Sourdough Mountain & Stetattle Ridge. 

Circa 2800 feet we lost the trail in snow, and circa 3000 feet had to put on snowshoes.  The narrow rib at 5500 feet was almost entirely hidden by snow, which made for an easy ascent on that part.

Along the way, we were treated to views of the Snowfield Group behind us and then the Pickets out ahead of us.

Snowfield Group behind us
Snowfield Group behind us
Pickets coming into view
Pickets coming into view
Elephant Butte & Luna
Elephant Butte & Luna

Lake 5916 to Sourdough 6140 (4:00-4:30pm)

On the way up, Steph & Dicey had been moving much faster, so Mike & I hadn't seen them since we stopped to put on snowshoes.  When we reached the crest (just above the totally invisible 5916 tarn), we found Dicey waiting for us there, while Steph had departed on a  side trip over the top of Sourdough Mountain to visit the Sourdough Lookout site.

Dicey awaits
Dicey awaits

When we arrived, Dicey took off her extra coat in anticipation of moving onward to camp.  Foolish Dicey.  She assumed that we would actually make a decision in a timely matter.  Instead we stood by our packs debating for almost another hour.

We originally had discussed camping atop Point 6308 on Stetattle Ridge.  But that was farther away from where we wanted to start for Sourpatch early in the morning.  Our current location was closest to the start, but it didn't have territorial views for the sunset and sunrise.  But what about going up in the opposite direction, and camping on top of Sourdough?  Its summit was close by, and none of us had ever camped there.

So finally we set off toward Sourdough, dragging Steph's pack partway up with us.  However, she was so fast that she soon arrived from the 3-mile round trip to the lookout before we completed the half-mile trip to the summit.  Steph reported that the lookout was so totally buried that it was completely invisible.  She had identified its location based on a previous visits and GPS.

Finally heading up to Sourdough summit
Finally heading up to Sourdough summit
Mike ascending Sourdough with Prophet Range behind
Mike ascending Sourdough with Prophet Range behind

Stats: 5 miles, 5250 gain, 6:45 hours (includes 0:45 of dithering)

Evening at Sourdough Camp

We set up camp just off the summit in order to avoid the wind.

Dicey & Steph's tent
Dicey & Steph's tent
Matt & Mike's tent
Matt & Mike's tent
Kitchen
Kitchen

I wandered off to admire the scenic tracks that Steph had left along the ridge.

Steph's tracks on Sourdough
Steph's tracks on Sourdough
Steph's tracks farther our toward the lookout
Steph's tracks farther our toward the lookout
My shadow with Jack & Crater
My shadow with Jack & Crater

Earlier, Steph had arranged a band of Peeps in the snow.  Dicey added smaller chocolate bunnies, but they short of looked like Peeps droppings.  When I returned, I found that Dicey had added her whiskey to the tableau.

Peeps & Bunnies (Peeps & Poop)
Peeps & Bunnies (Peeps & Poop)
Dicey titled this scene "Conflict Resolution"
Dicey titled this scene "Conflict Resolution"

The sunset mostly faded out behind western clouds, but it left some soft colors on the snow.

Sourdough tracks in evening late
Sourdough tracks in evening late
Pink clouds over Little Devil & Big Devil
Pink clouds over Little Devil & Big Devil
Last light behind the southern pickets
Last light behind the southern pickets

Sunday

Morning at Sourdough Camp

We all got up early to watch the combined sunrise and moonset.

What I liked best was how the light blended across the sky, from the growing glowing glow in the east around to the fading darkness in the west.   First the light brightened behind Jack in the east, then the orange rise chased the blue depths across the southern curve of the sky, and finally the glowing band of morning colors descended onto the Pickets in the west.

Up early to watch the day begin
Up early to watch the day begin
Colors reflecting on the snow near camp
Colors reflecting on the snow near camp
Light rising behind Jack
Light rising behind Jack
Day chasing night across the sky
Day chasing night across the sky
Sunrise colors descending onto the Pickets
Sunrise colors descending onto the Pickets

And then the peaks lit up with alpenglow.  From southeast to northwest:

Sourdough Mountain
Sourdough Mountain
Snowfield
Snowfield
Davis
Davis
Southern Pickets
Southern Pickets
Northern Pickets
Northern Pickets
Some later light highlights the Devils Group
Some later light highlights the Devils Group

Bonus question: Can you find Baker, Shuksan, & Triumph hiding in the previous photos?  (Answer is after next photos)

Last to light up was the center of our own ridge, which stood in Jack's shadow except for the summits at our end and the other end.

Glowing faces at camp on Sourdough
Glowing faces at camp on Sourdough
Morning lights only the furthest summer of Stetattle Ridge
Morning lights only the furthest summer of Stetattle Ridge

Bonus Answer: Triumph is to the right of Davis, tucked in the corner by Ropers Roost.  Baker & Shuksan are to the left and right of the Sothern Pickets.

Sourpatch Mountain 6607 (7:30am - 12:30pm)

Unfortunately, one can't just traverse from Sourdough 6107 to Sourpatch 6607.  In between, you have to descend to the Sourdough Lake Col at 4950 feet.  So it's 1200 feet down and then 1700 feet back up.  Or maybe that's fortunate after all, because the vertical topography along the way is gorgeous to look at, and hiking down and up gives one a great feeling for the shape and size of the ridges around Sourdough Lake.

A more serious problem is the steep southeast-facing snow on the descent ridge.  It directly faces the morning sun, and one has to walk on the slope rather than the crest, due to rock outcrops and cornices on the crest.  And the problem isn't just getting down it safely, but coming back up several hours later in the morning. 

Our original plan was to start hours before sunrise, in order to return before the snow got too hot and loose.  However, on Friday atop Sourdough, the snow seemed not to have heated up much, so we allowed ourselves to start later in the morning.  We were wrong, and the snow was very hot. 

We were also lucky, and found a much safer return route.  On the east end of Sourdough Lake was a much more gradual ridge, with a wide bench higher up that would connect back to the top of our descent ridge.  In summer, it might be inaccessible, but right now we could simply walk across the lake and go up the far side.

Ridge down to Sourdough Col on left; Ridge up to Sourpatch on right
Ridge down to Sourdough Col on left; Ridge up to Sourpatch on right
Routes down & up from Sourdough summit to Sourdough Lake Col
Routes down & up from Sourdough summit to Sourdough Lake Col

We departed camp with early light casting long shadows across the crest.  On the descent ridge, nothing was breaking loose yet, but the snow was very warm and soft.  At the Sourdough Lake Col, Steph decided that she would return upward immediately and explore Stetattle Ridge instead, since she hadn't been there.  The rest of us continued farther, scoped out the alternate return route, and decided it would work.

Departing Sourdough summit
Departing Sourdough summit
Long shadows stretching toward the Pickets
Long shadows stretching toward the Pickets
Wading through sun-softened snow near Sourdough Lake Col
Wading through sun-softened snow near Sourdough Lake Col

The ridge up Sourpatch was in very different condition.  Lying at an oblique angle to the sun, it had a firm crust and moderate angle that let us walk easily uphill on our snowshoes.  At 6450 feet, we reached the western edge of the summit, which had a bit of dry rock and a fine view back across the face of Sourdough  & Stetattle ridges.

Sourdough & Stetattle Ridge viewed from the west summit of Sourpatch
Sourdough & Stetattle Ridge viewed from the west summit of Sourpatch

Then we walked another third of a mile across the broad summit to the high point at 6607.  It was one of the finest viewpoints for the northern North Cascades, with peaks laid out in every direction. 

The only problem was that the summit was so broad that you have to walk a ways out to each side in order to see down and out to everything else.  I walked out on the north end and took photos for a panorama of that side, but then I got distracted and forgot to go over on the south edge fro the view down to the Skagit on that side.

Dicey & mtnmike headed back to the lower part of the summit for a less windy lunch, while I found a pleasant spot for my summit soup and tea.  Alas I had left my spoon back in camp, but I discovered that you can bend a Power Bar into a scoop shape that works well enough as long as your soup is rather thick.

Northern half of the view from Sourpatch:  Pickets, Chilliwacks, Prophet Range, Hozomeen, Ross Lake, Jack
Summit tea with the view west from Sourpatch
Summit tea with the view west from Sourpatch
Me on Sourpatch
Me on Sourpatch

Then I headed back to catch up with the others at the west end of the summit, veering back and forth to admire the cornices on the north side of the peak.

Dicey & Mike heading back across the broad summit of Sourpatch
Dicey & Mike heading back across the broad summit of Sourpatch
Cornices on the north side of Sourpatch
Cornices on the north side of Sourpatch
Sub-summit tea with the east face of Stetattle Ridge
Sub-summit tea with the east face of Stetattle Ridge

Another incomplete report!  I'm out of time tonight, but I'll post the rest soon.  Stay tuned for our return to Sourdough and Steph's trip on Stetattle.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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iron
getting old



Joined: 10 Aug 2008
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iron
getting old
PostFri Apr 05, 2013 6:33 am 
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looks pretty nice! glad the trip worked out so well.

--------------
man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostFri Apr 05, 2013 8:14 am 
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You have the best trips Matt!  Thanks for taking time to post this gorgeous report.  up.gif  up.gif
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BigSteve
mere tourist



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BigSteve
mere tourist
PostFri Apr 05, 2013 8:36 am 
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up.gif
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Hiker Mama
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Hiker Mama
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PostFri Apr 05, 2013 8:40 am 
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Matt, I love reading your reports!  Beautiful photos as usual.

--------------
My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
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StephAbegg
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StephAbegg
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PostFri Apr 05, 2013 9:19 am 
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Thanks Matt, Mike, and Carla for a great trip! A nice way to end my Spring Break!

I've posted a trip report on my website:
http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/stetattle

Here is a selection of my photos:

Carla on the approach to Sourdough Mtn / Stetattle Ridge.
Carla on the approach to Sourdough Mtn / Stetattle Ridge.
Standing on the buried Sourdough Lookout. Ross Lake below.
Standing on the buried Sourdough Lookout. Ross Lake below.
A photo of the buried Sourdough Lookout from the air 2 months earlier (Feb 2, 2013).
A photo of the buried Sourdough Lookout from the air 2 months earlier (Feb 2, 2013).
Our kitchen
Our kitchen
The seventeen of us enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the Pickets.
The seventeen of us enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the Pickets.
Enjoying a brilliant sunrise over Jack Mountain.
Enjoying a brilliant sunrise over Jack Mountain.
Morning alpenglow on camp and the Southern Pickets.
Morning alpenglow on camp and the Southern Pickets.
The slopes heading down to Sourpatch. The snow was actually more stable than I had expected for this winter-to-spring transition weather, but I still didn't feel very comfortable.....
The slopes heading down to Sourpatch. The snow was actually more stable than I had expected for this winter-to-spring transition weather, but I still didn't feel very comfortable.....
....so I headed back up to my destination for the day: Stetattle Ridge, ever closer to the Pickets. (note that after climbing Sourpatch, Matt, Mike, and Carla did find a better/safer way to circle around the slopes that had concerned me)
....so I headed back up to my destination for the day: Stetattle Ridge, ever closer to the Pickets. (note that after climbing Sourpatch, Matt, Mike, and Carla did find a better/safer way to circle around the slopes that had concerned me)
Another black and white photo of Stetattle Ridge.
Another black and white photo of Stetattle Ridge.
Billy's Easter Egg Hunt.
Billy's Easter Egg Hunt.
Back to the dangers of the lowlands
Back to the dangers of the lowlands

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http://www.sTePhaBeGg.com
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MtnManic
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PostFri Apr 05, 2013 4:51 pm 
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Every time I read of this trip in those conditions, I so badly want to be there as well.  At least, with the fine photos, I am there, sort of and thoroughly enjoy the vicarious experience.

--------------
Backpacking: limited to one pack at a time.  Cameras: limited to as many as I can carry.
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostFri Apr 05, 2013 5:47 pm 
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I never managed to get up Sourdough. It was near the top of my list, before I moved away. Oh well, I guess I'll have to live through reports like yours...

Matt wrote:
Colors reflecting on the snow near camp
Colors reflecting on the snow near camp
Departing Sourdough summit
Departing Sourdough summit

Really like these ones!

--------------
'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography site: http://galiwalker.zenfolio.com/
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Ingunn
Hiking Viking



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Ingunn
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PostFri Apr 05, 2013 6:11 pm 
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Amazing. I always look forward to your reports. up.gif

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trailsnail.com
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BarbE
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PostSat Apr 06, 2013 7:55 pm 
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Stunning photography, another excellent TR! up.gif  up.gif   up.gif
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



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Tom_Sjolseth
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PostSat Apr 06, 2013 7:59 pm 
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That's a long ridge!  Nice idea, great photos, looks like a good trip.
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostSat Apr 06, 2013 8:01 pm 
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Beautiful

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Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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BirdDog
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PostSun Apr 07, 2013 3:27 pm 
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Way to make use of a weather window. Very nice!

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"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country."
Teddy Roosevelt August 6, 1912
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Jetlag
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PostSun Apr 07, 2013 4:14 pm 
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Now that's a good use of good weather!
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contour5
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PostSun Apr 07, 2013 4:29 pm 
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What a cool camp! Perfect luck with the weather. Really nice morning shots. Great trip report!
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sourdough, Sourpatch, Stetattle (March 29-30, 2013)
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