Fortress Slam via Chiwawa River / 經吉娃娃河上堡壘滿貫

Fortress Mountain and Chiwawa Mountain
Fortress Mountain and Chiwawa Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Fortress Slam has been on my mind all summer. Up until last week, I still wasn’t sure if I’d get to climb them this year. Luckily, I was able to combine the trip with tomorrow’s Ingalls Peak climb. Last week I climbed The Yellowjacket Tower with The Mountaineers. Afterward, I decided it’s not one of those peaks I’d visit again.

The Lowdown on Fortress Slam

Fortress Slam = Fortress Mountain + Chiwawa Mountain

Access: Trinity Trailhead 
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 2800′-8760′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

Trinity to Chiwawa River Trail

In the back of my mind, I knew this was going to be a long day. So I car camped by the trailhead on Thursday night for an early start. People started to go about their business at the crack of dawn. So after everyone left for their destinations, I started my trip up Chiwawa River Valley.

Views began to open up when I reached the head of the basin. That’s also when route finding became a little more challenging. There were many down trees below the upper basin. Both mountains were now in plain sight, and they became shorter the higher I went. But for whatever reason, I never came across the creek crossing mentioned in reports.

See more trip photos here.

Fortress Mountain Climb

Other than the seemingly never-ending approach to the base of Fortress Slam, I didn’t encounter significant issues. The one crux was the snow finger below Fortress Mountain between 7800’ and 8000’ before the col. The snow was nearly impossible to traverse without crampons. As a result, I stayed close to the rocks while continuing to be mindful of possible rockfalls.

The short class 4 (high class 3, in my opinion) move on the final scramble wasn’t too bad. Then I weaved around the summit rocks to reach the top. Entiat high points were all visible from the summit, as well as all of the western peaks. Glacier Peak undoubtedly dominated the view to the west.

See more trip photos here.

Chiwawa Mountain Climb

On the descent, I traversed below the snowfield to get to the base of Chiwawa. Again, the snowfield was too icy and steep to traverse. The climb up to Chiwawa Mountain was more straightforward. But the mountain harbored more talus than that of Fortress Mountain. It pretty much went from the col to the top.

I followed a faint footpath partly, but I also made my tracks to keep from sliding. The views from Chiwawa was more or less the same as those of Fortress Mountain. But now there were those vibrant evening colors. I spent 30 minutes on top before making my way back down.

See more trip photos here.


With 10 minutes to sunset and still at the 7000′ elevation, I realized that my headlamp was missing. It most likely had fallen out of the backpack at some point during the climb. “Fuuuck!” I yelled out. So with the help of moonlight and my trusty GPS, I managed to make it back on the main trail. But not before having done two miles of scrambling through the forest and down trees.

My saving grace for the rest five miles back to the trailhead? A tiny flashlight buried at the bottom my ten essentials pack for the past five years. Glad I didn’t need to find my way back to the trailhead in complete darkness!

Another beautiful day out in the wilderness!

See more trip photos here.

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