Natasha and I spent some time trying to decide where we would go to do some easier hiking, after her finger was broken during our climb of the North Twin. Copious scrambling and snow climbing or glacier travel was out of the question. We thought about Borah and Diamond in Idaho but the weather was bad there, so we settled on the Pasayten Wilderness and decided to leave crampons and ice axes at home.
We drove to Slate Pass Wednesday night and camped on the road. The next morning we hiked up the road to Slate Peak lookout and then dropped over the east side into the Middlefork Pasayten River drainage. There was one barefoot river crossing. I was glad to have my kroks (imitation crocs that I bought in India).
We turned off the fork to Fred's Lake and followed many switchbacks up. Fred's Lake was impressively scenic. The trail led around the north side and then up the slope to a pass. We crossed a few snow patches. From the pass we could see Black Cap and Monument. Then around the bend our group of peaks came into view, Osceola, Carru and Lago.
We made camp at Doris Lake and decided we were tired and the peaks could wait till tomorrow. The following morning Natasha told me she hadn't slept well and would prefer resting in camp over hiking on loose talus and scree. So I was off solo for the day.
I left at 5am with the idea that I might make it as far as Dot and Ptarmigan. I took the old trail east toward Shellrock Pass and then turned north off-trail along the left side of the gully below the Carru/Lago col. It was steep and loose in places. There were a few cliff bands to negotiate. Having studied the map of Lago, I decided a minor rib south of the mountains west shoulder would be my best bet. This turned out to be a good choice. I entered the gully at 7000 feet and began ascending northeast toward the rib, finally reaching it at 7500 feet.
The top of the rib was less steep but I had climbed into the clouds and visibility was poor. I followed the rib up to the west ridge crest and then walked/scrambled to the summit at 8:30am. It was cold and windy and I couldn't see much. I signed the register and decided to wait for half an hour to see if conditions would improve. I was torn over what to do. I didn't want to abandon Ptarmigan, but I also didn't want to attempt the long ridge route solo in a whiteout. After waiting a half hour, I decided to go for Carru instead.
I retraced my route down to 7000 feet in the col and then followed the east ridge of Carru up to the summit. It was mostly loose class 2 with a couple of solid class 3 steps. The weather began to clear up after a couple of hours and by the time I reached the second summit at 12pm, it was fairly nice out. The register had a lot of familiar names in it. I had heard that the pencil was chewed up and in bad shape, so I replaced it with a new one.
Back at camp I met an ultra-marathon runner named Kevin. He had climbed Robinson the day before and asked if I would like a partner for the following day. We agreed to do Osceola together. On the third day, Natasha was content to spend a few more hours in camp while we went for the peak. We ascended the south ridge after making our way up a gully. There was a lot of talus, but this ridge was more settled than the rock on Carru or Lago. Osceola was my 35th WA Top 100 peak.
Back at camp, Natasha and I packed up and headed back to the pass where we dropped our packs. We hiked pass a small lake, not shown on maps and then gained the north ridge of Rolo. When we reached class 3 terrain, Natasha preferred to wait for me than to continue with her broken finger. I felt a little bad and wondered if we should have picked a different location for the holiday weekend, but she assured me several times that she was enjoying herself.
I scrambled up the north ridge which was mostly class 2 but had multiple class 3 sections and possibly one 4th move, depending on if you stay on the ridge, which I did. The summit register revealed that the peak sees an average of 2 ascents a year and there were no signatures in 2009 or 2010. It was a little surprising for 8096 foot peak.
During the hike back to Slate Pass, we saw several baby grouse and Ptarmigan with their mothers. Natasha was quite taken with the baby Ptarmigans.
Love that area. I spent 8 days up there in '08 to grab most of those peaks and was sad to leave. Rain just about every day but at the right time when we were back at camp. Still planning on a return trip for Rolo and Trailblazer, hopefully this year.
If you haven't walked up Monument Ck, you owe it to yourself as it a marvel of trail building, even in it's sad, unmaintained state. You probably will head up that way for the other T/100 peaks. Bring your loppers or a saw.
Neat trip, you covered a pretty good amount of ground in 3 days. I never did make it up Carru, which I'm kind of disappointed about but you would've seen my name in the Lago, Osceola, and Rolo registers.
Congrats on getting out there, too bad Natasha's finger's still bugging her but I bet she'll be back in the saddle soon.
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