Forum Index > Trip Reports > The Blumberhagadeen Traverse - 10/26-27/19
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geyer
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 8:42 pm 
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Dates: October 26-27, 2019
Distance: ~15 miles
Net Elevation Gain: ~8k'
Total Humans Seen: zero

BlumBerHaga(n)deen
Did I make that name up? You betcha

Some may know it as the "Berdeen High Route", some may know it as the "Bakin' Bacon High Route" ok, I made that up too. but it shall live on as the Blumberhagadeen, because the people have spoken:

Eve, with frightening accuracy wrote:
Blumberhagadeen sounds like someone being grossed out and then throwing up and then sighing/crying

Jess wrote:
I'll drink a German beer for you!

Kyle probably wrote:
Dude, that's dumb

Ideally, a party starts the traverse (or ends it) at the end of the Bacon Creek Road, ascends Porkbelly Ridge, tags the summits of Berdeen, Hagan, and Blum (with the option for Native Knoll too), and descends via Blum Lakes. It's only supposed to be about 14 miles, how hard could it be?
Spoiler alert: HARD especially with snow


Day 1: Porkbelly Ridge to a tiny tiny pond at 4600' near the E ridge of Berdeen Peak
Distance: 5.5 miles
Net Elevation Gain: ~4500'
Summits: 0
Time: 9.5 hours

The day started w/ a 4am Seattle departure - Kyle in his car, me in mine - and driving about 2 hours to the Baker River TH, where Kyle would leave his car, jump in mine, and then we would drive about 50 miles to the end of the Bacon Creek Road. About 15 minutes after we left his car, I realized I had mistakenly left my contact lenses in his car and had to drive back. 30 minute deduction. Whatever, we only have to go like 7 miles today? easy-peasy

We made it to Bacon Creek Road, where Kyle ominously said "Man, this area is cursed," referring to our failed spring attempts in both the Baker River and Bacon Creek drainages. Dammit Kyle, why'd you have to jinx us before we even got out of the car??

We left the car, donning head-to-toe Goretex knowing that the previous night's rain would make the approach to Porkbelly (and Porkbelly itself) a very wet endeavor. Luckily, goretex is pretty great, and we managed to keep our base layers dry the whole day. Personally, I was worried about crossing the stream after the big storms and melt-off of the recent snows. I even checked the USGS water gages - not great - the creek was running at almost 3x the median flow rate. When we approached the stream, luckily we found a big wet log to a cheval across the stream one short butt-scootch at a time.

The next several hours are a giant blur. When it was steep, it was less brushy, but strenuous (because it was very steep); when the ridge was flat, it was immensely brushy, and equally if not more strenuous. There were no easy parts; there was sometimes a faint bootpath, but it disappeared the closer we got to the top and the brushier things became. There were some intermittent views of the valley below where it became depressingly clear how little ground we had covered. Kyle refused to eat his Pita "lunch" until we got to 5000' which we didn't reach until probably 4pm. So yeah, travel was a bit slow...

When we did pop out above the treeline, the views were monumental. Up close and personal, you had the giant south face of Berdeen Peak with striations of snow on its rock; to the left were the prominent peaks of Triumph and Despair, lookin' all pretty; and then in the distance beyond it all were the jagged snow-capped peaks of the Pickets, trapped in a moody storm while the rest of the N. Cascades were experiencing bluebird skies.

Berdeen Peak
Berdeen Peak
Ridge views
Ridge views
Pickets
Pickets
Despair
Despair
Triumph
Triumph
Finally on top of the ridge!
Finally on top of the ridge!
improbable tree framing Triumph
improbable tree framing Triumph
Pickets
Pickets

We hiked the ridge for a while until the sun started to set and made it to what was probably a small frozen tarn in an extremely exposed location (read: biting winds) where we admired the Pickets lighting up in shades of gold, orange, and magenta, an image that would be seered in our memories as a defining moment of the trip.

Pickets
Pickets
mmmm... Bacon
mmmm... Bacon
Pickets
Pickets
Another view into the northern pickets
Another view into the northern pickets
Looking back toward the rescue mission on Hidden Lake
Looking back toward the rescue mission on Hidden Lake
Valley golden hour
Valley golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Pickets golden hour
Sunset in the valley
Sunset in the valley
Had to drop below that ridge and camped near its base
Had to drop below that ridge and camped near its base
Sunset in the valley
Sunset in the valley
Sunset
Sunset
Northern Pickets Pano (Phantom>Spectre>Crowder>Swiss>Fury)
Northern Pickets Pano (Phantom>Spectre>Crowder>Swiss>Fury)
Sunset on Despair
Sunset on Despair
Sunset on Triumph
Sunset on Triumph
Sunset
Sunset

We were still miles and miles behind where I had planned on getting, so we briefly considered camping here, but trudged onward, dropping all the way to 4500' near another small frozen pond. We set up camp on a flat spot in a gully, hidden from the winds, with confidence that all the recent snow slabs nearby had already slid (the bare rock glide avalanche zones made it very obvious).

Tired as ever, we went to bed around 8pm and got 9.5 hours of sleep.

Day 2: Tiny Pond->Berdeen Lake->Hagan/Blum Ridge->Glacial Lake at Base of Hagan->Lower Blum Lake->Baker River
Distance: 9.5 miles
Net Elevation Gain: ~3500'
Summits: Still 0
Time: 15.25 hours w/ lollygagging

We left our camp before 9am on Sunday and crossed the east side of the N Ridge of Berdeen Peak. We carried snowshoes but didn't use them because there was generally too much side-hilling to be comfortable and the snow was not overly deep. Finally we headed up to the col between Berdeen and Native Knoll, where we caught our first glimpses of Berdeen Lake. Majestic.

Leaving camp day 2
Leaving camp day 2
route to the pass
route to the pass
traversing the avy debris
traversing the avy debris
small lake near the pass
small lake near the pass
traversing to the pass
traversing to the pass
deep valleys
deep valleys
First views of Berdeen Lake
First views of Berdeen Lake
possibly better looking in the summer?
possibly better looking in the summer?
Berdeen + N Hagan
Berdeen + N Hagan

As much as we wanted to stay, we didn't have time to dilly-dally, so we pushed onward. We passed the smaller lake and were met with in-your-face views of the massive granite wall on "Lonesome Peak." We began to ascend when Kyle whispered behind me, I left my car key in your car

Me: WHAT?!?!!!

I went into full adolescent girl mode, meaning Kyle was getting the silent treatment while I was fuming and simultaneously blazing the trail up to the ridge. I mean, what even could I say? I called him an idiot, and that was that. From then on, I was thinking of how we were even going to get out of there. I did have my new inReach, but I could only send one text at a time and had the limited texting plan, so I wanted to see if we could find cell service on the ridge first and spray messages at everyone. Spoiler alert #2: we didn't find service. inReach to the rescue. Special thanks to Jess for taking >5 hours out of her day to drive all the way up and back from Seattle to drop off the key under Kyle's truck.  shakehead.gif

Berdeen
Berdeen
Ice flows
Ice flows
Entering the upper basin
Entering the upper basin
Entering the upper basin
Entering the upper basin
Lonesome peak's granodiorite face
Lonesome peak's granodiorite face
Crossing the upper lake
Crossing the upper lake

The original plan was to climb Hagan via its SE face/ridge, but we didn't have time for that, so we opted to travel the mellower route up to the ridge between Blum and Hagan. Instead of going to the left near North Hagan, we opted for a steeper, less-glacial, but more rockfall-y route up to the right of Peak 6830 (not labeled on the map, but north of North Hagan).

The route up
The route up
Ascending
Ascending
Ascending
Ascending

The route was interesting. I went into self arrest at one point because my traction didn't stick and the snow wasn't deep enough to make arrest very effective. The run-out was fine here, so it wasn't much of an issue. The rest of the route, however was steep and dangerous, so we were really glad that the snow was soft enough for kicking deep buckets, making it actually pretty fun, if not exhilarating.

We got to the ridge and were met with an expansive glacier and views of Shuksan and Baker. Traveling the ridge a bit more led us to an aerial look back at Berdeen Lake. A little bit further on the ridge and we had panoramic views of the entirety of the northern and southern pickets. Further still, and we had views of all four Blum Lakes and the entire route up Blum that could have been, if we had more time.

North Hagan
North Hagan
Suksan
Suksan
One of Hagan's glacier
One of Hagan's glacier
crossing the glacier
crossing the glacier
Looking down to Berdeen
Looking down to Berdeen
Looking down to Berdeen
Looking down to Berdeen
Looking down to Berdeen
Looking down to Berdeen
Baker
Baker
patterns
patterns
Kyle ascending
Kyle ascending
Pickets and then some
Pickets and then some

At this location, we ascended to a high point at about 6815' in hopes of finding cell service. Much to my surprise, even with 360 degree views, there was no service. It took some time to send and receive inReach messages... precious time that we didn't exactly have.

We started to descend, attempting the ridge south of the uppermost Blum Lakes only to get cliffed out. We descended and reascended different parts of the ridge twice before deciding to head down toward the glacial lake at the base of North Hagan and traversed over toward lower Blum Lake once we hit treeline. At this time, it was already well past sunset and the sky to the west was burning deep orange, with a strong alpenglow reflecting off of Blum.

Compared to Hagan, Blum's a pretty ugly choss pile
Compared to Hagan, Blum's a pretty ugly choss pile
upper Blum
upper Blum
Looking toward Hagan and our eventual descent route
Looking toward Hagan and our eventual descent route
cliffed out on the ridge
cliffed out on the ridge
cliffed out on the ridge
cliffed out on the ridge
glacier lake below north Hagan
glacier lake below north Hagan
Setting Sun behind Baker
Setting Sun behind Baker
Lower Blum Lake
Lower Blum Lake
Alpenglow on Blum
Alpenglow on Blum

From here, we essentially bushwacked down to about 3800' before stumbling upon the bootpath by pure luck and happenstance. Thank god it was flagged! The bootpath was about 1000% more efficient than trying to bushwack downhill by headlamp, but very slow because every move had to be extremely deliberate. At the slightest hint of being off trail, we stopped and searched the area for any scent of trail and followed it until it was clear we were right or wrong. We shared a snack and both of us experienced some mild nausea on the an already unpleasant descent.

Eventually we made it down and hiked the trail back to the TH, where a spare key was waiting underneath Kyle's truck. Time? 12:06 am Monday.
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



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Have camera will use
PostThu Oct 31, 2019 5:19 am 
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geyer wrote:

There are great pictures all the way through the report, but this one is my favorite! Gorgeous. up.gif

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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Gimpilator
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PostThu Oct 31, 2019 5:58 am 
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One of my favorite areas in WA.  Pretty neat that you completed that traverse this time of year, despite no summits.  Really appreciate those golden hour pics.  up.gif

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Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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RichP
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PostThu Oct 31, 2019 7:16 am 
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Gorgeous with the dusting of snow.  up.gif
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dicey
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PostThu Oct 31, 2019 12:06 pm 
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Thanks for the entertaining read and beautiful pictures!!!

Wait, no larch photos?  I'm not sure that is allowed in October.  I'll give you a pass based on BlumBerHagandeen wink.gif

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fourteen410
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PostThu Oct 31, 2019 12:46 pm 
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Dreamy  up.gif
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awilsondc
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PostThu Oct 31, 2019 1:45 pm 
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stun.gif No words... epic report both in writing and photography!  borank.gif

Kyle... Kyle, Kyle, Kyle.  I can't believe he forgot the key!  Man, that's a rookie mistake he'll never hear the end of.  haha  Glad it worked out in the end.  Again, great report.  Best report on here in quite some time.  Thanks for all the suffering involved to bring us this story and your gorgeous images!
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raising3hikers
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PostThu Oct 31, 2019 3:56 pm 
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Great pics!  Surprised there isn't 3-4' of snow, a few of us had thought of going up that way to blum but scared off by the imaginary snow pack

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Eric Eames
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cascadetraverser
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PostThu Oct 31, 2019 4:20 pm 
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That`s a brilliant trip; to get into that area so late is impressive.  Beautiful photos and some of the best shots of Mystery ridge I have seen!  I remember doing the extended Ptarmigan traverse some time ago from Cascade Pass to Image lake (via Ross Pass) and somewhere along the way I realized I forgot to bring the key to my Jeep which was waiting at the Suiattle TH!  Arggh.  Cell phones were primitive back then so we managed to get the lookout keeper at Miners Ridge to get a message out to a friend who met us with the key....Whew!
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kloria
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PostFri Nov 01, 2019 1:59 pm 
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Yes, my stupidity knows no bounds. As I said, Bacon Creek Rd. is cursed... for me at least. I'm glad we got to squeeze this one in before we transition to our beloved backcountry skis. What an incredible area of the Cascades!

I don't have much more to add other then photos from my perspective. Brad has been talking about Berdeen Lake for as long as Bacon Peak has been on our list. Originally a summer destination for us, I'm glad we got to see it in these unforgettable conditions.

Here are some of my favorites from the traverse...

Topping Out on Porkbelly Ridge
Topping Out on Porkbelly Ridge
Pickets B&W
Pickets B&W
Pickets in Color
Pickets in Color
Mt. Despair
Mt. Despair
A Walk in the Park, NCNP
A Walk in the Park, NCNP
Brad and Berdeen
Brad and Berdeen
Inlet Stream
Inlet Stream
Leaving Berdeen
Leaving Berdeen
Climbing
Climbing
Still Climbing
Still Climbing

My full album of photos can be found here:
https://kyleloria.smugmug.com/Outdoor/Adventures/Berdeen-Lake-High-Traverse/
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Nancyann
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PostFri Nov 01, 2019 7:10 pm 
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Thanks for the well-written trip report, Brad, I always look forward to reading your tales of adventure and mis-adventure!
As for the pictures, so many outstanding ones, I donít know how you and Kyle are going to chose which ones to enter in the Calendar Contest!
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Backpacker Joe
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PostSun Nov 03, 2019 3:07 pm 
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Outstanding effort you guys.  Thanks for posting. up.gif

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

ó Abraham Lincoln
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geyer
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PostMon Nov 04, 2019 5:37 pm 
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Sincerest apologies to everyone (especially dicey) for posting something other than larches in October  wink.gif

awilsondc wrote:
Man, that's a rookie mistake he'll never hear the end of.

I'll personally make sure of it!

raising3hikers wrote:
Great pics!  Surprised there isn't 3-4' of snow, a few of us had thought of going up that way to blum but scared off by the imaginary snow pack

I looked up the NWS snow depth interactive map beforehand and it said there would be somewhere between 8"-48"... i don't think it was more than a couple feet deep anywhere, so you could say that estimation was correct. Looks like this dry spell is coming to a close this weekend. Time to play in some cascade concrete!

cascadetraverser wrote:
we managed to get the lookout keeper at Miners Ridge to get a message out to a friend who met us with the key....Whew!

Wow lucky! I can only imagine the tale you would have to tell if you had to hitchhike!

Nancyann wrote:
Thanks for the well-written trip report, Brad, I always look forward to reading your tales of adventure and mis-adventure!
As for the pictures, so many outstanding ones, I donít know how you and Kyle are going to chose which ones to enter in the Calendar Contest!

Always appreciate hearing from you! And whoa, I can't believe it's already calendar season
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