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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
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Matt Lemke
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High on the Outdoors
PostSat Jul 15, 2017 7:00 pm 
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Note: If you haven't seen part 1, see it here!

This is part 2 of my trip report for our Glacier Peak Wilderness trip.

July 9th Day 5
After the long day climbing both Pinnacle Mountain and South Spectacle Butte, we got a decently early start from Lower Ice Lake and hiked past the upper lake and over the 7550 foot saddle and crossed into upper Leroy Basin. We decided to descend and stay as close to the lower western shoulder of Maude as possible, and managed to only drop to 6400 feet, before starting an ascending traverse around the west side of 7FJ. Josh was pitching his case for me to let him quickly run up 7FJ but I was leery because I knew we had a long day to get over both Fernow and Copper and I didn't want to get caught on Copper in the dark. I allowed him to go though, and I waited on the 7,600 foot pass just above the small tarn on the route around to Fernow. I was able to relax there enjoying the view of Glacier Peak and company for an hour and a half while Josh scrambled up the lower west face, and met up with the standard south ridge of 7FJ. I was able to watch him much of the way up and down due to my good vantage. Once he returned we quickly started the descent into Gloomy Basin where we found ourselves below a series of very impressible rock faces, none of which looked probable at all to ascend Fernow. I commented to Josh that Fernow is the one on the far left and we agreed on a route through the basin.


We located the Class 3 ledges needed to gain the gentle upper basin to allow us access to the ledge traverses around the south ridge. At first the route looked very steep, but as we approached it appeared much more reasonable. The scrambling up the ledges was wet at times due to a waterfall cascading down the middle, but we were able to keep our feet dry, and soon enough we reached the permanent snowfield above, where I was shocked to run into someone! At first I thought I had caught up to someone also going up, since he was wearing a helmet and was walking but I quickly saw two additional people, and what looked like their bivy. It was Tom S, Josh H and Luke S and they had just then returned from traversing to Copper, and were packing up their camp on a small ledge at the base of the snow. We chatted for a few minutes and Tom offered us some whiskey, which I was reluctant to accept knowing Joshs' state of constant dehydration but he was more than willing to partake, so I took a sip as well. Thanks guys for the tracks over to Copper!

We continued up the snowfield and reached the south ridge of Fernow, and easily located the ledges leading towards the summit due to the many cairns along the route. We dropped our packs just 60 feet below the summit and scrambled up the final Class 4 stretch and topped out. It was a beautiful summit view with the north sides of both 7FJ and Maude staring at us from across the upper Entiat Basin.


We didn't stay long though as we had a long traverse to Copper to complete, and I was getting worried we wouldn't have enough time to make the ascent. Tom had mentioned a slightly cooler and windier forecast was in store for the next day, plus I didn't want to ascent Copper early in the morning when the snow was harder since we both only had lightweight hiking shoes and microspikes for the trip. Regardless, we descended the gentle east ridge of Fernow with the jaw dropping cliffs dropping sometimes overhanging off to the north. We had to drop all the way to 8240 feet in order to get onto the small glacier on the NE flank of Fernow. We were able to run down this glacier a ways before the snow thinned, and began to expose harder ice beneath, slowing our pace. We also encountered some large ice blocks, and small crevasses to navigate around.

We were both comfortable continuing though and Josh put his microspikes on to aid his progress around the cracks and down the small glacier. None of the crevasses were serious luckily, and the snow never really exceeded 40-45 degrees. With care, we made it to the key 7200 foot notch allowing easy passage into the next basin over to the north, which drops steeply below the east face of Copper. From this point we traversed over to a nice spot we could leave our packs that we would return to in order to descend Copper Basin. I saw their tracks zig zagging up the various snowfields on the east slopes of Copper Peak, terminating at a point high up on the NE Ridge. Since we made such great time traversing to this point, and it was only about 6pm, I agreed with Josh that we had enough time to make the ascent, so long as we moved extra fast.


We quickly packed up our day pack and started up the first of three snowfields. The first one was a gentle rightward traverse up to a steep muddy gully, continuing to a flat bench. From here, we made a sharp left and followed near the crest of the lower east ridge for maybe 100 feet until the cliffs forced us right onto the steeper snowfield covering the lower tier of the two tiered upper east face. We ascended this 300 foot snowfield which maxed out at about 45 degrees, however the bucket steps already in place were a big help allowing up to very quickly ascend to the grassy ledge at 8200 feet, which sits just above the small steep set of slabs separating the two tiers of the upper east face. We made a right traverse on this grassy ledge, which included a short descent until we were able to scramble to the crest of the NE ridge, which we met at about 8250 feet. The final scramble up this ridge was a beautiful route up mostly perfect rock to the summit. The crux involved a short Class 4 slab on the right of the ridge to bypass a step in the ridge, while the rest of the scramble was mostly exposed Class 3. This was my favorite peak of the trip so far up to this point. We made the summit at 7:30 and had amazing lighting on Glacier Peak and the Entiat Group, as well as across Railroad Creek Valley as the sun was low in the sky, and low clouds began to roll in. I was reminded of our summit view from Boston Peak.



We thoroughly enjoyed the summit for 20 minutes before quickly descending the route, picking up our packs and descending upper Copper Basin. We tried to pick the best way down through the moraines, slabs and bushes, but it was getting dark, and we were not able to descend all the way before dark. I spotted a somewhat flat knoll at 5800 feet where we could make a camp for the night, and the sunset as we dropped down was absolutely gorgeous.


July 10th Day 6
This would be the day we passed through Holden! We slept in a little, and began descending into Copper Basin avoiding bushes whenever possible. At one point we followed a small dry stream bed and hiked under a large patch of slide alder, and utilized the steeper slabs which were free of brush when they weren't too steep to scramble down. We passed by a huge waterfall that cascaded down from the small glacier we descended off of Fernow, and crossed the main Copper Creek where it formed three braids allowing up to jump across each braid without removing our shoes. Shortly below that, we had to move sharply right (east) to meet up with a narrow band of talus allowing easy passage to the Copper Basin Trail above. I decided to up climb some steep mossy slabs covered with brush in hopes to avoid the slide alder down below. About 25 minutes of annoying bushwhacking laterally got us to the narrow band of very loose talus, which we ascended for about 200 feet and met the trail. From there it was a quick hike down to Holden, which we reached just after 10am.


In Holden, I went to the registrars office and located our gear cache, and purchase lunch for the both of us. While we waited for lunchtime, we ate various things from their "tea time" menu which included muffins, milk+cereal, tea, plus the oreos I had in the food cache. For lunch we had homemade cream and broccoli soup with fresh salad, then went across the road to get ice cream. It was a glorious buffet that I desperately needed to regain some of the energy from the past 4 days. We also chatted with many different people (visitors of Holden) about our adventure, all of whom probably thought we were crazy.

At about 2:30pm, we started hiking the trail towards Tenmile Falls, which was downright luxurious for the single mile that it lasted! A short ways above the waterfall, the trail all but disappeared due to...you guessed it...the Wolverine Fire! We spent the better part of the next few hours weaving around fallen trees, burnt forest and ash covered ground until we reached the base of the slope leading to Tenmile Pass. We located a somewhat flat spot without too much burnt roots or shrubs and dug out the ash to make a flat tent spot. This is where we would camp for the next two nights. By 6pm we were both asleep, and since we ate so much in Holden, we didn't even cook dinner that night, and slept over 12 hours. It was a much needed rest day.


July 11th Day 7
We were both amazed as to how long we slept, and at 7am got up to start hiking up Mount Flora. The initial hike up to Tenmile Pass was a steep grind, but since we were not in the sun, and were feeling great after the rest day we made great time ascending the 1600 feet to the pass, despite not finding any resemblance of a trail. From the pass we had an amazing view of both Tupshin and Devore Peaks up close. Locating the Devore Creek Trail on the opposite side of the pass was easy, since that valley hasn't yet burned, and we followed gentle switchbacks down for about 1200 feet to about the 5200 foot contour where we left the trail and crossed Devore Creek on a high log (certainly didn't want to fall!). We endured about 600 feet of bushwhacking under the shade of the trees aiming towards the valley descending down from East Riddler Peak. We hit a boulderfield which made travel much easier, and filled all our water bottles at the small creek before ascending the snow slopes to the small pass immediately adjacent to the impressive east face of Riddler Peak.

From here, we left our ice axes and began a long ridge traverse over to Mount Flora. We ascended 700 more feet to an unnamed point, then onwards, and below the north side of a second unnamed point across snow slopes. Bypassing this point was much faster than scrambling the Class 3-4 ridge crest up and over, and likely saved us nearly an hour in each direction. We did have to negotiate through a group of small light colored rock pinnacles just before the final slopes to Mount Flora though, and involved some narrow steep gullies and traversing along their base. This area was an interesting place and looked like something out of Bryce Canyon. After another short break, we finished the Class 2 talus slope to the summit, which we reached around 1:30pm. I was very impressed with the view we had looking down Lake Chelan, which verified my suspicion that we were looking right at Flora from the boat when we rode in to Lucerne. The view of Lake Chelan from Flora was the best I had seen from any summit I have climbed in the whole area. Most peaks are set back too far to actually see the lake.


After a 30 minute summit visit, we began the long hike back, and followed mostly our same path but rather then traverse back up and over our first point above the saddle we left our axes at, we crossed directly through the small valley, by dropping 400 feet or so. This also allowed us to fill our water, and traverse around the first point, actually saving us some elevation gain! The return back to our camp in Tenmile Creek was uneventful, and we got back with plenty of daylight to cook and relax.


Stay tuned for part 3, which should come sometime early next week!

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The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
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Get Out and Go
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PostSat Jul 15, 2017 7:59 pm 
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Nice to get into some beautiful basins and peaks.  I recognize some places personally and others from just gazing up.   wink.gif

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"These are the places you will find me hiding'...These are the places I will always go."
(Down in the Valley by The Head and The Heart)
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RichP
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PostSat Jul 15, 2017 8:15 pm 
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I'm tired just reading about it. Chance meeting with Tom S and a sip of whiskey.  biggrin.gif

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zephyr
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aka friendly hiker
PostSat Jul 15, 2017 8:56 pm 
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Some terrific photography.  It's a wonder you have the time to compose so many decent shots in such rugged terrain.  Some of these prospects are astounding--those upper basins in waning light and the various terrain features on the ridges that you all scrambled through.  It's fun to go full screen and just arrow through the entire set with some good music in the background.  (Ambient/chill in my case...wink.gif  This part 2 is very enjoyable.  ~z
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seawallrunner
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PostSun Jul 16, 2017 10:57 pm 
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I agree with zephyr, beautiful photographs Matt ! Well done.
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NorDub
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PostTue Jul 18, 2017 12:27 pm 
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Quote:

This place looks beautiful. Which lake is that? Is that one of the Ice Lakes referred to?

Awesome pictures, wow!
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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1821 | TRs
Location: My van
Matt Lemke
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High on the Outdoors
PostTue Jul 18, 2017 12:47 pm 
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Yes those are taken from the shore of Lower Ice Lake just as we started our 4th day of the big trip.

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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Glacier Peak Wilderness Mountain Massacre July 5-14: Part 2 of 3
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