I took a glacier climbing course with the Mountaineers in 2016, but have never climbed a glacier since. I came out of glacier climbing hibernation to climb a mountain I have always been wanting to do. There is a scramble route up this peak, but I am so glad I climbed this glacier!
We set out from the White River trailhead a bit after 9am. The first 4 miles along the White River Trail are mainly flat with minor rolling ups and downs. The trail alternates between nice forest and thick open brush. The trail goes through the several open brushy sections is very overgrown, a sign that this trail does not get much foot traffic compared to the Indian Creek Trail across the river. This trail also had by far the worst mosquitoes I have ever encountered. Squadrons upon squadrons of the buggers launched their air raids against us. The only way to stop them completely is with a full upper body bug net, which proved very effective. At 4 miles the trail crosses Boulder Creek on a nice big log, and a little further it reaches the junction. Here we turned right and up the Boulder Creek Trail.
This trail switchbacks up rather gently still alternating between forest and brushy sections before straightening out as it goes up the valley. At 4000 feet nearly 3 miles from the junction the trail crosses Boulder Creek in 3 parts. The 3rd part is the largest and deepest, requiring a ford. Nearly 2 miles further at 5000 feet, the trail arrives at a large gorgeous meadow of flowers at the start of the basin. There is a nice campsite here and a toilet. 9 miles and 4.5 hours from the trailhead. This is a great destination even for a casual backpacker.
It was still plenty early and it made more sense to go higher and closer to the mountain, so we pushed onward up the valley, and then up many gentle switchbacks, then through a small higher basin (also with some campsites) up to Boulder Pass at 6300 feet. Over 11 miles and 6 hours from the TH. We set up camp on the ridge of the pass, with a great view of the Napeequa River far below.
The next morning we set off at the crack of dawn at 4:30am. It is easiest to descend switchbacks down the other side of the pass (toward the Napeequa) about 150 feet, then traverse across the snowy basin NW. We aimed for an obvious snow gully and then ascended meadow and heather slopes up to the right of it and climbed about 500 feet up to the top of the ridge. The running water on those slopes was the last water source, so be sure to have a fully supply of water before reaching the top of the ridge. We reached the glacier just as the sunrise alpenglow was lighting up the glacier!
We roped up and made a rising traverse SW up the gentle part of the glacier to 7200 feet, and then zigzagged and weaved our way up the left-central part of the glacier. The crevasses were so incredible and massive, with some resembling giant ice canyons and some towering walls of ice 3-4 stories tall! At about 7700 feet, it is best to stay as left as you can fairly close to the cliffs. Once past the crevasses we ascended NW up to a saddle at 8100 feet.
We crossed the ridge and traversed the south slopes of the summit, and then steeply ascended the loose dirt and rock of the south shoulder up to the summit. We arrived at 9:30am, 5 hours and 3 miles from camp. Unfortunately, we were mostly clouded in with limited views. Despite the lack of views, the route up the glacier was very fun and the ice scenery was quite dramatic. We returned to camp at 1pm, 8.5 hours camp to camp.
It was a 5 hour hike back down the 11 miles to the trailhead.
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