Forum Index > Trip Reports > Glacier Peak Wilderness High Routes and Summits 8.5.2018
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hofferc
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hofferc
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PostSun Aug 12, 2018 3:45 pm 
Long time lurker, first time poster, but since I planned so much of this trip using info from this site, wanted to share. Hope it is helpful to others. This was a six-day near-loop from Little Giant Pass TH to Phelps Creek TH, using the Louis Creek, Fortress, Phelps Ridge, and Carne Mountain High Routes, with summits of Buck, Fortress, Chiwawa, Seven Fingered Jack, and Maude. Only technical gear was an ice ax. Used info from this site, as well as Routes and Rocks and SummitPost. Overall it was a great trek with just a few challenges following the high routes, so would love to hear from others who are able to share more detail in hopes that it might help others. There were nearby wildfires and smoke came and went - but not bad overall. Day 1 - Little Giant Pass Trailhead to Louis Creek basin Got dropped off at the Little Giant Pass TH, forded the Chiwawa (just past my knees, so an easy crossing) and headed up to Little Giant Pass, then down to the Napeequa Valley. At Louis Creek, I took a slightly different route (I think) than described by R&R. I went further north on the Napeequa trail until there was a break in the hillside from slide alder, and ascended through ferns and flowers, trending north until reaching a more gently sloped and forested hillside, using my ice ax for stability going up the steep hillside. I was never very close to Louis Creek and wasn't sure how easy it was going to be to go up and then down into the basin, but it ended up working just fine. I did have to routefind to avoid some cliffs but overall it wasn’t bad other than being exhausted from having just gone up Little Giant Pass and carrying enough food for up to seven days. The Louis Creek basin is beautiful and unique, and doesn’t seem like it gets many visitors. Plenty of flat terrain for camping options.
Smoky Napeequa Valley
Smoky Napeequa Valley
Ascended a ways west from the creek (on left)
Ascended a ways west from the creek (on left)
Lovely, lonely basin
Lovely, lonely basin
Day 2 - Buck Mountain, then Louis Creek High Route to High Pass Started the morning by climbing Buck Mountain, walking up the hillside from my camp. Sounds like other routes up Buck are a lot harder, but from Louis Creek it was nothing more than Class 2. Highly recommended. I was satisfied with scrambling just the “official” peak (8527), although didn’t hang around for too long on the very airy and precipitous summit. Once back at Louis Creek, I went up toward Mt. Berge, using Wolffie's WTA post as a guide, which was very helpful. R&R describes heading toward a pass near Pt 7953 (7948 on my USGS topo?) and then heading northwest to avoid “cliffs and a glacier”, but in looking back at that option after getting beyond High Pass, I couldn’t see how that route is viable… though am sure it is. I took to the pass at 7600 and there were no challenges getting up, but after that, I had trouble finding a good route down to the basin south of High Pass. I’m pretty sure I should have gone more to the west/southwest in coming down from the pass, but instead descended a bit early amidst some treacherous rocks near a small but steep snowfield, where a misstep would have been pretty bad. It was not fun. This was my first time at High Pass, and the snowfield descent was not near as bad as I had read about - or at least seemed like a cake walk compared to what I just done. I camped just a ways beyond High Pass, after a trip down to Triad Lake and back up.
Peaked pano from Buck
Peaked pano from Buck
Approximate route up and over toward High Pass
Approximate route up and over toward High Pass
Looking back toward High Pass - not so bad, but ice ax still required
Looking back toward High Pass - not so bad, but ice ax still required
Flowers near High Pass
Flowers near High Pass
Smoky sunset near High Pass
Smoky sunset near High Pass
Day 3 - Fortress Mountain, then Fortress High Route into Chiwawa Basin Enjoyed the lovely trail to Buck Creek Pass and then on to the unsigned but obvious turnoff for Pass No Pass. I missed it on the way up, but the Massie Lake High Route (or some well-trodden game trail extension) goes from an obvious campsite right after you turn off Buck Creek Trail, all the way to Pass No Pass. It makes getting to and from the pass very quick work. I dropped my backpacking gear at Pass No Pass, and then headed up to Fortress, which was straightforward and a very enjoyable scramble, and then descended back to Pass No Pass. To get on the Fortress High Route, I took the Massie Lake High Route a little ways to the meadow hillside below the pass at 7200 described in R&R, but as soon as I came over the other side, routefinding was difficult. This was largely because the route description in R&R was written from the opposite direction, so it wasn’t very obvious what route to take. That said, I think I ended up choosing something similar to what R&R describes (in part because there seem to be few if any other viable routes) but even after getting into Chiwawa Basin and looking back, I still wasn’t certain about the R&R description and which were the particular “two sloping grassy ledges” it was referring to. Maybe if I had been coming the other direction it would have been more obvious. Anyway, from the pass, I dropped down just a bit and went north and followed upper, vegetated benches, staying very high, though there were a lot of steep sections where a mistake would have ended badly. I went about as far as I could go, before hitting an impassable rock spur and then began a descent. Here is an approximate route, which was pretty nerve wracking due to the steep terrain and abundance of dead ends and cliffs. Has anyone done this and can confirm the R&R route or some other route? After making it down to the Chiwawa basin, I made my way to the upper basin and to the knoll around 6400 that’s up from Pt 5971, and the well-used bivy site by the creek. The views and scenery here are incredible.
Fortress in the distance
Fortress in the distance
Trail porn
Trail porn
Fortress summit pano
Fortress summit pano
Chiwawa, Fernow, Jack and Maude from Fortress
Chiwawa, Fernow, Jack and Maude from Fortress
Approximate route down to Chiwawa Basin
Approximate route down to Chiwawa Basin
Day 4 - Chiwawa Mountain, then Phelps Ridge High Route to LeRoy Basin Very easy and enjoyable ascent of Chiwawa from camp. Headed back down and then toward Phelps Ridge. I found that staying higher (closer to 6800-7000?) was a lot easier than the 6400 recommended in R&R, which would have you navigating a mess of cliffs and waterfalls (but I think the R&R authors were a little bit in to that kind of thing?). I could have gone up and over to Spider Gap/Larch Knoll, but wanted to try the Phelps Ridge HR that would put me right next to the LeRoy Basin turnoff the next drainage over. I ended up doing a traverse below Red Mountain and along the Phelps Ridge crest, and can only add my voice to the chorus that Red Mountain has very unstable rock, and I have no plans to spend time on or near it again. From Phelps Ridge I eventually found the pass to the creek draining into Phelps described in R&R, but once again, because I was following the route in reverse, the route description didn’t help. So it was just a bushwhack with several veggie belays down steep cliffs to Phelps Creek. It worked, but I wouldn’t do it again. From Phelps, I went up to LeRoy Basin. Aside from passing some folks at Buck Creek Pass, this was the first time I ran into people since Little Giant Pass.
Looking back at Fortress from Chiwawa
Looking back at Fortress from Chiwawa
Day 5 – Seven Fingered Jack, Mount Maude, Ice Lakes Climbed up Jack, which was fairly straightforward. I would say that after you gain the upper benches from LeRoy Basin, don’t be too eager to ascend, like I was. There’s practically a boot path all the way to the summit if you skirt out from and around all of Jack’s “fingers.” From Jack, I went back to LeRoy and then took the Carne Mountain trail to where you can take a rocky shoulder up to the pass above Ice Lakes, then went down a bit then back up to summit Maude. I had been up Maude before and remembered that once you get to the final summit push there is a path all the way up if you keep to the rocky ridge on the left. I went back down to Upper Ice Lake and took the “secret” scramble down to the outfall stream, which I think is the most beautiful series of waterfalls and pools just about anywhere. I was the main entertainment that night for a pack rat who was fixated on the straps and such of my Tarp Tent, and scurried over every 15-20 minutes for the entire night to harass me. I suppose I should have just moved by camp spot during the night, but that would have let the rodent win. It won anyway because I didn’t get any sleep. Although to be fair, it was kind of cute, and we got to know each quite well by morning. Next time I come to Ice Lakes I am packing a rat trap, though.
Smoky Entiat Valley from Jack
Smoky Entiat Valley from Jack
Approximate route up to Maude
Approximate route up to Maude
"Secret" passageway
"Secret" passageway
Spectacle Buttes from Ice Lakes
Spectacle Buttes from Ice Lakes
Day 6 – Carne Mountain High Route to Phelps Creek TH Returned to the Carne Mountain High Route and even having been on it previously, managed to get off-route in, I think, the exact same place I had gotten off route before, rounding the spur just north of Chipmunk Creek. But I got back on track without too much time lost. Got picked up at the Phelps Creek TH and while I have been on those last couple miles of the road before, it seemed like they were even worse. There were several deep sandpits that I had never experienced before, perhaps because it’s been so dry. SUMMARY The overall route was a really great way to cover the terrain and link together different peaks, passes and basins in a single trip, in one of the most beautiful parts of the Cascades. But it did have some sketchy areas, particularly the descent into Chiwawa Basin as part of the Fortress HR.

-Chris

reststep
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Matt
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PostSun Aug 12, 2018 5:28 pm 
Nice. Great job of chaining high routes together.

“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Jordan
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 1:37 am 
Man what a trip that would be. Great job. I'm headed that way soon. So the fires have not shut the area down yet, I was worried about that. How were the bugs around buck creek? Thanks for the info.

none
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DIYSteve
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DIYSteve
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 6:00 am 
Very cool route up.gif

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OutOfOffice
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 9:20 am 
Way to link all of this up! Glad to know there's a way up along Louis Creek. up.gif up.gif

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RichP
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 9:21 am 
Lovely tour of some of the best of that area.

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fffej50
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 9:44 am 
there is in fact a scratch trail that goes to the basin including a crux tunnel through the brush that gets you there although super obscure in places... it is a unique beautiful lost place....

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geyer
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geyer
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 9:56 am 
I feel like you took my whole summer from last year and put it all into one route! Nice job using R&R to piece these together to see some of the best in Washington Also, a great trip to break out of lurking for your first NWH TR

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hofferc
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hofferc
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 6:38 pm 
Jordan, the fires made for a pretty smoky trip. The last night I felt like I was camping right next to a campfire, blowing smoke into my tent all night! Keep an eye on the Bannock Lakes fire to the north that has detoured the PCT. The much larger Cougar Creek Fire is to the southeast and growing. Bugs are probably dying down from their peak, but still plenty of black flies and larger horse flies that'll stick with you the whole day. Kinda fun to practice swatting, though!

-Chris
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ChinookPass
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PostMon Aug 13, 2018 9:38 pm 
Wow! Inspirational tour. Thanks.

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uww
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uww
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PostTue Aug 14, 2018 2:16 pm 
Great job!

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Runninghigh
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PostSun Oct 02, 2022 3:27 pm 
Can anyone comment on the route from getting over the pass/south ridge of fortress and dropping into chiwawa basin? The line you took sounds like it worked but wasn’t ideal exposure/looseness wise - I have already climbed fortress from the chiwawa basin side, and I’m looking to do a loop similar to this - in hindsight would it just be easier to climb and downclimb fortress again if coming from pass no pass? Also - does the notable pass at the end of the red mountain trail, just to the north of red mountain summit, give access on the east side to work down to spider gap/trail? It looks no problem from the maps, aside from probably being loose.

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SnailsandTrails
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PostSun Feb 19, 2023 9:39 pm 
I am planning a trip up Glacier Peak starting at Cady Ridge and then going up and over coming down Lime Ridge, does this route seem possible? Thanks.

I should be doing homework
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Riverside Laker
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PostSun Feb 19, 2023 10:11 pm 
I suppose you could follow the PCT up to White Pass, take the dog route up, and descend Sitcum Glacier. But I've heard Boulder Basin is clogged with avalanche debris. Then take the PCT again to Lime Ridge. What a route that would be. Years ago we ascended and descended that way doing a GP circumnavigation. Another trip we ascended via the Rabbit Ears, but that was a pretty technical route. It was challenging enough (for me) to go up. Going down, huh uh, no way.

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