Forum Index > Trip Reports > Lincoln Peak - Emancipation Proclamation May 25-26, 2018
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Matt Lemke
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PostSun May 27, 2018 12:30 pm 
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What: Lincoln Peak via it's only really feasible route
Who: Steven Song and I
When: May 25-26, 2018
Stats: 6,500 feet gain

After climbing Snowfield Peak with Jake just a few days prior, I realized that if I wanted to climb Lincoln Peak (which has been on my radar for a couple years now), I would have to do it now given how quickly the snow has been melting. So I glanced at the weather forecast, and noticed the freezing level was going to drop for the early part of the Memorial Day weekend, and I put out a call for a climbing partner for this difficult endeavor. Steven, who has also been eyeing Lincoln, abandoned our friends trip up Dome and Sinister to join me, and I am glad he did! We had an amazing, epic climb on one of the hardest peaks to attain in the state, with absolutely perfect conditions.

We began the trip by meeting up in Bellingham (as Steven had to come down from Vancouver) and we carpooled out to the end of FS 38. We made it to the third of 7 switchbacks before we were forced to park by the road becoming overgrown. We loaded up our packs to some obscene weight and ate some last minute snacks before starting up the remaining 4 switchbacks of the old road up the south slopes of point 4481. We carried two ice tools each, snowshoes, two 60 meter ropes, 6 pickets, a small rack of nuts and 4 small cams in addition to the overnight gear and food. Luckily the approach wasn't too long I thought! Memories of my trip up Colfax Peak from a few years back were vivid, as it was the first time I saw Lincoln Peak up close.

Looks daunting eh?
Looks daunting eh?

Back in 2008 when Tom S, Fay, Sean M, and Paul K ascended Lincoln, they were able to drive all the way up to the 7th switchback, however those days are gone unless someone takes a chain saw up there and does some gardening. There have been very few ascents of this peak, with the climbing history as follows:

First Ascent: Fred Beckey, Wesley Grande, Herb Staley, and John Rupley - July 1956

2. Dallas Kloke and Scott Masonholder on July 6, 1975 [not written into register]

3. John Roper, Silas Wild, Dick Kegel, and Reed Tindall on June 25, 1989

4. Dallas Kloke and Scott Bingen on August 1, 2000 [not written into register]

5. Don Goodman, Chris Robertson and Juan Lira on June 8, 2003

6. Dave Creeden, Stefan Feller, Mike Torok, and Greg Koenig on June 25, 2006

7. Paul Klenke, Tom Sjolseth, Sean Martin, and Fay Pullen on June 28, 2008

8. Don Beavon, Don Brooks, Franklin Bradshaw and Tom Sjolseth on June 21, 2012

9. Aaron Scott on June 24th 2012 on Skis

10. Dan Helmstatder on July 8th 2012 on Skis

11. Pat Gallager on June 15, 2013

12. Michael Rynkiewicz and Daniel Coltrane via new route up the NW face on March 13, 2015

13. Eric Eames on May 31, 2015

14. Imran Rahman +2 others on June 4th, 2017

15. Andy Dewey on June 5, 2017

16. Matt Lemke and Steven Song on May 26th, 2018

17. Steve Trent and Chris Martin on June 12, 2018

Note: This list isn't 100% known, particularly the last 10 years or so, therefore if you have climbed Lincoln Peak, please let me know! I know there are likely others since 2010 who have climbed it.

Amazingly, Lincoln Peak, similar to its cousin Little Tahoma, actually predate their corresponding larger neighbors and are the remnants of much larger stratovolcanos from 500,000+ years ago. With this geologic info in mind, it is obvious to me this peak is worthy of being climbed and should be included in the highest peaks list for the state of WA.

So, back to our climb...after an hour or so hiking up the road we made it to the 7th switchback, and began the bushwhack along the decommissioned road, which traversed west, then rounded to the right (north) and across the west facing slopes of point 4481 towards Rankin Creek. There was a "path" through the alders along the old road bed but they were leaning and we had to push them up and over our heads every time, which was harder for me with my super height.

Luckily, shortly after we rounded the ridge, remnant snow was found and was still squashing the beasts down flat, allowing much easier passage until we were forced into the trees to the right where we contoured NNE making our own tracks in the snow through the trees until we reached the east Rankin Lake at 5120 feet, which was still snowed over. Here we put the snowshoes on and continued north up mellow snow slopes to a small saddle, then east up the basin dropping off Seward peak and camped at 6100 feet next to the highest trees on the ridge atop the steep slopes dropping northward into the Wallace Creek Valley. We set up the tent and took a nap to relax. We then explored the area immediately around camp and enjoyed another fantastic Cascades sunset before hitting the sack with the alarm set for 2am.


And here's some of Steven's photos:

Yes I carry my boots. They are too heavy to put on my back!
Yes I carry my boots. They are too heavy to put on my back!
Shitty bushwhacking!
sh##ty bushwhacking!

We were off at 3 in the morning to begin the traverse into the SW basin of Lincoln Peak. With the clear night, the snow froze which is exactly what we needed! We were in our crampons right from the start. We traversed around the base of the steep SW buttress of Lincoln, then began ascending 30-40 degree snow for nearly 1500 feet until we hit the first bergschrund at about 7600 feet. This was the crux of the climb as it was guarded by a 50 foot high serac with the only way up requiring climbing 70-85 degree snow directly up the face of the serac from a small bridge spanning across the large crack. I solod up this obstacle kicking in large bucket steps in the snow/ice which was terrifying to say the least. A fall would have sent me into the gaping bergschrund below! With steps kicked in, Steven was then comfortable soloing up, and once on top, there was just enough twilight to begin taking photos.

Myself climbing the 75 degree serac
Myself climbing the 75 degree serac

We then continued up the 45-50 degree slopes trending left towards the first "pill" rock island as Tom called it, then up a small snow arete for 100 feet until we could make a near horizontal leftward traverse into the first hidden gully. Here we crossed the second bergschrund, which was a non issue (we just walked over as it was almost completely snow covered). When we began climbing up the 60 degree hidden gully, I noticed the sun was rising and an orange glow was igniting the tops of the clouds below us! it was a beautiful sight. Likely the most difficult part of this portion of the climb was crossing through the 2 foot deep and 4-5 foot wide runnels. With my longer legs, I was able to kick steps through them.

Myself traversing across a large runnel
Myself traversing across a large runnel
Steven climbing up one of the big runnels
Steven climbing up one of the big runnels

We ascended up the gully which was also perfect styrofoam snow and hit a second, longer narrow snow arete at its top which we climbed with very steep drop offs to both sides. We went to the top until we hit rock before cutting left for a second leftward traverse, however for this one we were able to utilize the moat at the top of the snow against the rock face to make progress a bit easier. The only difficulty we encountered on this part of the route was another very large runnel. We then reached the base of the final gully leading to the summit, and we actually roped together for this part only because we were getting mentally tired from soloing everything up to this point. So Steven led a 60m pitch up the 50 degree snow, then I led one more. We then scrambled the final 20 feet up bare rock to the summit, which we reached at 8am.

Climbing the large snow arete
Climbing the large snow arete
Myself reaching the moat on the second leftward traverse
Myself reaching the moat on the second leftward traverse
Steven crossing the large runnel in the moat
Steven crossing the large runnel in the moat
Twin Sisters
Twin Sisters
Baker and Colfax
Baker and Colfax
Glacier Peak way in the distance
Glacier Peak way in the distance

We had an excellent summit stay of nearly an hour, and saw at least 15 people on the standard route of Baker. I wondered if any of them noticed us...likely not. The summit register that was placed in 2008 by Fay was in a state of complete disrepair (filled with ice and water) so I packed it up for salvaging and will give it a better tube for return to the summit by a friend sometime in future. If you are planning an ascent of Lincoln please let me know and I will give you the improved summit register to return.

At 9, we began the descent. I won't go into too much detail, but it included 10 double rope rappels, 4 of which were off pickets we placed, one off a sling we placed on rock, and the remaining 5 off of existing slings around rock horns. The rock on Lincoln Peak was actually more solid than we imagined, and offered many good horns for anchors, however no options for pro (ie. no cracks). We finally made the last rappel down the waterfall gully by 2pm, which took us down into the cloud layer. We descended the snow slope and traversed back to camp which we got to at 3pm. The snow had softened up considerably, however we were in a total whiteout when we got back, with Josh Henderson waiting there!


We packed up our stuff and made a quick descent back to the truck parked at the 3rd switchback, which we reached just after 6pm. We beelined it right for Bellingham where I celebrated with a Dominos pizza!

Thanks Steven for joining me on this amazing climb! With this peak done, I might actually be able to finish the Bulgers and 400P list this year.

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awilsondc
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PostSun May 27, 2018 12:44 pm 
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jab.gif  rocker.gif Solid work you guys! Looks hard!   up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
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raising3hikers
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PostSun May 27, 2018 6:15 pm 
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nice work you guys! I had been wondering if anyone was going to give Lincoln a shot this year.
definitely brings back some memories

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wildernessed
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PostSun May 27, 2018 6:17 pm 
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up.gif Amazing! think that was on Tomís top 10 list of hard technical peaks in Washington.

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Matt Lemke
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PostSun May 27, 2018 6:22 pm 
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Have you climbed it r3h?

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Matt Lemke
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PostSun May 27, 2018 6:26 pm 
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wildernessed wrote:
up.gif Amazing! think that was on Tomís top 10 list of hard technical peaks in Washington.

Yes it is. That list was originally developed by Dallas kloke. I wrote about it on SP

Difficult 10

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raising3hikers
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PostSun May 27, 2018 6:33 pm 
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Matt Lemke wrote:
Have you climbed it r3h?

yep, probably my toughest climb ever.  and, you already wrote my name down - r3h=eric eames  5/31/15 in the low snow year

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Matt Lemke
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PostSun May 27, 2018 6:36 pm 
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raising3hikers wrote:
Matt Lemke wrote:
Have you climbed it r3h?

yep, probably my toughest climb ever.  and, you already wrote my name down - r3h=eric eames  5/31/15 in the low snow year

Ah perfect! I have your name in the resister smile.gif

Congrats!

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whoami
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PostSun May 27, 2018 8:56 pm 
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Nice work!

There has to be more feasible routes since more have been done.  wink.gif

I have to look at this top ten list..

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PostSun May 27, 2018 10:19 pm 
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Great effort, guys!
Matt Lemke wrote:
Myself reaching the moat on the second leftward traverse
Myself reaching the moat on the second leftward traverse

If that camera angle is't tilted a little bit, then
eek.gif  eek.gif  eek.gif

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Justus S.
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PostSun May 27, 2018 11:03 pm 
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Strong work.  up.gif  up.gif
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xuanxier
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PostMon May 28, 2018 9:14 am 
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That's an awesome trip report Matt with some detailed history. Might be the first Canadian to climb Lincoln which I certainly didn't expect since it's so visible from Canada. I see this peak every day driving to work and now I'm happy looking towards Baker..

Thanks for leading the climb. It wouldn't happen without Matt's expertise. I've done a ton of steep snow climbs but this one is in the next level. It puts our snow mountaineering skills in test no doubt.

Just starting to work on my TR.

For those curious about how difficult is Lincoln Peak comparing to the hard Canadian peaks. The answer is of course very condition dependent but I would probably rank it #4 hardest among everything I've done (out of 730+ peaks with majority of the 11,000ers), with Alberta, Robson and Deltaform leading in front and Atwell, Bryce and "4-Twins-in-One-Day" coming close from behind. It's way up there so do it and tell me how you feel.

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RichP
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PostMon May 28, 2018 9:29 am 
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My palms are sweaty just reading about it. eek.gif  Awesome accomplishment.  up.gif
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PostMon May 28, 2018 12:31 pm 
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Great TR and photos. Congrats! Lincoln is a beast. I climbed it with The Late Great Dallas Kloke in 2000. It was his second time so he knew what we were getting into! Hard to believe that was 18 years ago. Definitely this is one of the hardest summits to obtain in the Cascades. And what a summit!
Nice job gents.
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xuanxier
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PostMon May 28, 2018 3:22 pm 
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My full trip report is out:
http://stevensong.com/lincoln-peak


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