Forum Index > Trip Reports > Challenger ~ West Challenger ~ Whatcom ~ July 14-17, 2022
 Reply to topic
Previous :: Next Topic
Author Message
Fletcher
Member
Member


Joined: 29 Jul 2009
Posts: 1841 | TRs | Pics
Location: kirkland
Fletcher
Member
PostMon Jul 18, 2022 7:31 pm 
The forecast was looking good and plans for the Pickets were coming together. Fred was able to schmooze his way into a permit over the phone and Thursday morning, him, PeeWee and I were departing Hannegan Pass TH with our sights set on the Challenger Peaks, Crooked Thumb and Phantom. The many miles to the cable car, Brush Creek, and eventually Whatcom Pass were enjoyed by all. The last few miles to Whatcom were oppressive in the afternoon heat which resulted is a severe PeeWee bonk at the pass. The amount of vomit was concerning.
the trailside nettles were waiting
the trailside nettles were waiting
trailside flowers
trailside flowers
Ruth
Ruth
dropping from Hannegan
dropping from Hannegan
cable car!
cable car!
awesome!
awesome!
Whatcom
Whatcom
Challenger
Challenger
We'd all collectively decided to take Whatcom Pass rather than Easy Ridge and the Impasse because we thought it would be the easier way to make it to Perfect Pass in a single push. We arrived at Whatcom Pass around 6pm, let PeeWee work through the bonk, and proceeded with our traverse around Whatcom. Its longer and sloggier than the map suggests. We finally got to Perfect Pass after 9pm, exhausted, happy, and stoked!
traversing around Whatcom Peak
traversing around Whatcom Peak
a crack
a crack
Hozos
Hozos
Challenger
Challenger
Perfect Views
Perfect Views
recovery
recovery
On Friday morning, we all slept in a little late, then Fred and I enjoyed a short breakfast climb up to Whatcom. The final ridge scramble is good stuff. Weather was perfect and the views were amazing.
heading up Whatcom
heading up Whatcom
Baker lit
Baker lit
Fred on the ridge
Fred on the ridge
Baker and Shuksan
Baker and Shuksan
Challenger
Challenger
Luna
Luna
We cruised back down to camp, told PeeWee it was time to pack up and headed for West Challenger. We roped up for the western Challenger Glacier crossing. Travel conditions on the glacier were cruiser. We made good time to col west of West Challenger, dropped some gear, and descended slightly on the south side of the col. We then worked our way up the snow towards the "eroded dike". This short section of terrible loose rock was comical, if not a little sketchy. After this, a fun, meandering scramble route takes you to the summit. Sadly, we did not locate the old register that other parties have found in recent years.
heading for West Challenger
heading for West Challenger
the eroded dike
the eroded dike
The Pickets
The Pickets
The descent of West Challenger was simple. Then we had to wrap back around the north side of the peak to access the West/Middle Challenger col. From here, we made 2 rappels down rock and snow into the Solar Glacier Basin. What a place! We walked the flats of the lower Solar Glacier towards what we believed to be Crooked Thumb Camp, The weather was looking good! We found a descent scramble route 300 ft up from the lower glacier to a heather spot on a rock rib just below Crooked Thumb. There was no running water here, but upon arrival, we all knew it was home for the night. One of my best bivy spots ever.
rapping
rapping
rapping
rapping
below the Challenger Peaks
below the Challenger Peaks
the bivy
the bivy
Fred and I had planned to climb Phantom Peak that afternoon. Unfortunately for me, my left Achilles tendon had been bothering me for most of the day, exacerbated by steep snow climbing, and I thought it was wise to sit Phantom out, with high hopes of climbing Crooked Thumb the following morning. Fred set out for Phantom while PeeWee and I settled in to our amazing perch above Picket Creek for an afternoon of alpine lounging. As the afternoon progressed, it became more and more clear that unforecasted weather was rolling in from the NW. At one point in the evening, we looked up to Phantom and spotted Fred on the summit!
Fred on Phantom
Fred on Phantom
weather inbound
weather inbound
wish we had a tent
wish we had a tent
It started raining before 9pm, sending us into our bivies before Fred returned from Phantom. It drizzled off and on all night long, and we were completely socked in. I got out to pee around 6:30, still completely socked in. Around 8:30, Fred poked his head out and reported partial blue skies and sun breaks. We all rushed our gear to the rocks to get it all as dried out as possible! Given the late start to the day, as well as the unsettled weather, we decided to leave Crooked Thumb for another trip. I got some cell service at camp and could tell the weather was going to be even worse the following day. We all decided to climb Challenger and get out as far as we could that day. We'd spotted a good looking snow gully from the Solar Glacier Basin the previous day. We packed up camp and moved in that direction as we began to lose visibility again around 10:30am.
leaving camp
leaving camp
good vis
good vis
Middle Challenger
Middle Challenger
a big snow swale
a big snow swale
steep
steep
We climbed the steep snow gully all the way to the Challenger Glacier. What a direct route! We were only a few hundred feet from the summit. We climbed more snow to an awesome rest spot to drop our packs and climb this classic North Cascades Peak.
Challenger
Challenger
the pitch
the pitch
PeeWee and Fred let me lead the pitch. There are several pitons along the way, making any sort of gear unneeded. A few fun crux moves and I was at the upper belay. After bringing them both up, we all took a belay to the summit, one at a time. No views due to whiteout.
rapping challenger
rapping challenger
Back at our break spot, we roped up and prepared to cross back over to Perfect Pass with limited vis. One interesting schrund crossing that Fred lead, and we were on the cruiser glacier.
visibility didnt last long
visibility didnt last long
schrund crossing
schrund crossing
Perfect Pass
Perfect Pass
From Perfect Pass, we decided to see how far out we could get via Whatcom. We made it to Gray Beal Camp by 8pm and had a nice fire Saturday night.
Chilliwacks
Chilliwacks
Little Beaver
Little Beaver
Impressive rockslide
Impressive rockslide
camp
camp
The next morning, we slogged the 15ish miles out to the trailhead and got pizza at Chair 9. Another awesome trip into The Pickets! ~58 miles ~13,800 ft of gain ~4 days

neek, MangyMarmot, Prosit, pjhorst, Nancyann, LukeHelgeson, Bronco, Theboywhocriedroute, rstoddard24, jaysway, ozzy, SeanSullivan86, contour5, rubywrangler, brewermd, mtn.climber, ONELUV1, Malachai Constant, reststep, RichP  awilsondc, geyer, freddyfredpants
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
freddyfredpants
saucy



Joined: 08 Jul 2018
Posts: 38 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
freddyfredpants
saucy
PostMon Jul 18, 2022 9:03 pm 
A great trip with great guys. This is my favorite shot of Fletcher rounding the SE corner of Whatcom Peak. There's some big damn glacier in the background, doing its thing.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
geyer
Member
Member


Joined: 23 May 2017
Posts: 442 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
geyer
Member
PostMon Jul 18, 2022 10:50 pm 
Congrats on this one! I was super stoked for you guys when I saw your instagram update! Looks like such a classic Fred- what was the route up phantom like?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
raising3hikers
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 2287 | TRs | Pics
Location: Edmonds, Wa
raising3hikers
Member
PostTue Jul 19, 2022 6:52 am 
Awesome TR, too bad the weather came in tho. It's always tough to get everything you want to get in the pickets in one trip. I bet that fire at your last camp was nice

Eric Eames
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
freddyfredpants
saucy



Joined: 08 Jul 2018
Posts: 38 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
freddyfredpants
saucy
PostTue Jul 19, 2022 8:38 am 
With the snow cover Phantom was pretty chill, just circuitous snow travel from CT camp. The broad S couloir doesn’t really steepen up until the last ~600’. I was on snow to within 100’ of the summit. Later season I believe it melts out to choss. I managed about 5.5 hours RT.

geyer
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
rstoddard24
BBQWingz



Joined: 30 Dec 2016
Posts: 69 | TRs | Pics
rstoddard24
BBQWingz
PostTue Jul 19, 2022 9:22 am 
nice work all! how much snow is lingering on the trail miles still? Looks like some patchyness still near Hannegan pass?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Fletcher
Member
Member


Joined: 29 Jul 2009
Posts: 1841 | TRs | Pics
Location: kirkland
Fletcher
Member
PostTue Jul 19, 2022 10:58 am 
rstoddard24 wrote:
nice work all! how much snow is lingering on the trail miles still? Looks like some patchyness still near Hannegan pass?

Still significant snow on both sides of the pass but nothing that made us take off the trail runners. You’ll be on dry trail within 300 vertical feet on either side. More significant snow at Whatcom Pass. Same thing, probably start hitting it within 3 or 400 ft of the pass.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
ozzy
The hard way



Joined: 30 Jul 2015
Posts: 447 | TRs | Pics
Location: University place, wa
ozzy
The hard way
PostThu Jul 21, 2022 9:18 am 
Another awesome trip man! That bivy spot looks supreme! rocker.gif Y'all are animals btw. I've wanted to climb Whatcom for quite sometime now, what would be the easiest way to approach that one!? Nice trip guys! cheers.gif

“I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames”-Mr Mojo Risin
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Gimpilator
infinity/21M



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1588 | TRs | Pics
Location: Edmonds, WA
Gimpilator
infinity/21M
PostFri Jul 22, 2022 7:18 am 
Amazing that you had enough reception to text some of us when you were in there. I remember seeing some clouds forming and wondering if it would turn into anything. Must have been a rough night in those bivies. Overall a very cool trip and now you have a reason to do another Pickets trip. up.gif up.gif

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bluebird
suffering optional



Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Posts: 180 | TRs | Pics
Location: United States
Bluebird
suffering optional
PostMon Jul 25, 2022 4:16 pm 
up.gif up.gif up.gif

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
   All times are GMT - 8 Hours
 Reply to topic
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Challenger ~ West Challenger ~ Whatcom ~ July 14-17, 2022
  Happy Birthday SwitchbackFisher!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum