Chickamin Slam via Dome Glacier / 巨蛋冰川到奇卡民滿貫

Dome Glacier dream
Dome Glacier dream

See more trip photos here.

This trip was one of my most scenic outings in the heart of the Cascades. All in all, it was a memorable trip with great company. Although, my least favorite part about the climb was the eight-mile bike ride on Suiattle River Road with full packs. Ironically, the road was to reopen in just four months!

The Lowdown on Chickamin Slam

Chickamin Slam = Dome Peak + Sinister Peak
奇卡民滿貫=巨蛋峯+邪惡峯

Access: Suiattle River Road at mile 12.5
Round Trip: 50.5 miles
Elevation Range: 900′-8920′
Gear: rock, snow, overnight
GPS Track: available

Logistics Overview

July 4-6, 2014

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Friday, July 4
Bike approach to Downey Creek Trailhead
Downey Creek Trail to Cub Lake
Night 1 – Cub Lake

Day 2 – Saturday, July 5
Sinister Peak + Dome Peak
Night 2 – Cub Lake

Day 3 – Sunday, July 6
Exit


Day 1

Bike approach to Downey Creek Trailhead

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Eight miles of this
Eight miles to trailhead

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Bike Approach to Downey Creek Bridge

Coincidentally, a few years back I bought my bike to climb the nearby Green Mountain. But due to other plans that trip never happened. Since then, the hike has been collecting dust in the garage. But with this trip, I was finally able to put it to work on my first ride to a trailhead.

Surprisingly, construction of the Downey Creek Bridge was still underway. And up against the unfinished structure was a shaky ladder. One by one, we got on top and crossed the raging creek. I couldn’t wait to see the finished product with the reopening of the road.

Unfinished Downey Creek Bridge
Unfinished Downey Creek Bridge

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Downey Creek Trail to Bachelor Creek Basin

Due to the minimal views through dense forest, the approach to Six Mile Camp by Downey Creek Trail was uneventful. The recommended log crossing took us some time to locate. But ultimately, we found the right place to cross without having to ford the raging Bachelor Creek.

Just on the other side of the creek, we followed flagging to bypass down trees, slide alder, and dense brush. Moreover, it guided us in the general direction up toward the head of Bachelor Creek Basin. Finally, views began to open up in the upper basin where we started to encounter snow.

Green, green, green
Green, green, green

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En Route to Cub Lake

The slopes to get down to Cub Lake from the pass were steeper than expected. At the bottom of the hills, we then traveled to the east of the lake. There we set up our home for the next two nights. The weather over Itswoot Ridge looked a little iffy in the evening. But we crossed our fingers and hoped for a better forecast in the morning.

Right before we went to bed, we had a quick birthday celebration for our youngest Bulger finisher. Lindsey Warren got a surprise homemade birthday treat from Patrick.

Twenty miles from car
Twenty miles from car

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Day 2

Sinister Peak + Dome Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Rise and shine
Rise and shine

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Itswoot Ridge to Dome Glacier

Next morning we woke up to some blue skies overhead, as well as dark clouds to the south. And after making a steep ascent through Itswoot Ridge, the sky cleared up quite a bit to let in sunshine. The sunny weather got us through Dome Glacier and over the access col to the east side. We were now finally at the top of Chickamin Glacier.

Sketchy Descent into Chickamain Glacier

Getting down the initial steep part of the glacier and around a bergschrund was another crux. Kenny and Patrick turned around here a year ago because of the bergschrund had already opened up. This year they moved the trip up to this weekend to avoid encountering the same ordeal again.

We set up a rappel and made solid steps as we descended the glacier. So this way we could take advantage of the steps on the way back. It took just one 60-meter rope length to get down far enough over the crux. As I looked at both sides, I realized the bergschrund could easily make or break the deal.

Descending into Chickamin Glacier
Descending into Chickamin Glacier

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Traversing Chickamin Glacier to Sinister Peak

To get to Sinister from below of the crux required losing even more elevation on Chickamin Glacier. Sinister Peak and Dome Peak looked closer together on maps. But they felt much farther apart in person with all the zigzagging through crevasses. Mike stayed behind on the glacier due to sickness while the rest of us continued.

We finally came to stand beneath Sinister Peak’s intimidating north face. It took careful planning and rerouting to get through the steepest and most unnerving section. Hidden bergschrunds were both above and below us.

Kenny and Patrick opted to get around to the back side at the base of the north ridge. They climb through scree and rocks while Linsey and I got on a steep snow finger from the north.

Hand line
Hand line

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Sinister Peak North Face Climb

We set up a hand line to get through a few exposed sections on the ridge. Then we finished the climb with a nice and easy class 2, grass walk-up to the top. The effect of Tylenol PM from the night before hadn’t completely worn off. In turn, the final walk-up with a heavy rope in the pack felt brutal.

It began to drizzle just as we arrived on the summit; the views on top were scarce. Dome Peak finally emerged from the clouds during our short stay. The weather system slowly crept in from the north right as we were leaving the summit.

On the way back we picked up our friend on Chickamin Glacier. Clouds rolled into the area creating super low visibility as we climbed back up the crux toward Dome-Chickamin col.

Back to the other side
Back to the other side

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Dome Peak North Approach

Since Kenny and Patrick climbed Dome Peak last year, they headed back to camp. The three of us stayed behind and moved toward Dome Peak’s summit block. Due to poor visibility, even with a GPS device in hand, it was hard to pinpoint the summit. But soon we spotted the webbing other parties had used for the rappel.

And the was the arête leading to the summit. Linsey quickly grabbed her rope and inched forward toward the summit. The narrow ridge was impossible to protect. So Lindsey set up a hand line at the top while I scooched my way over. Mike came up last using the hand line.

Glorious Summit

As luck would have it, clouds suddenly broke away the minute we got on the summit. We had a good 15-minute window of clear sky with temperature inversions below the summit. Clouds shrouded nearby peaks so not a whole lot to see. But the heat from the sun above us was pure bliss. We made our way down the mountain soon as clouds started to swarm in.

Stillness lay
Stillness lay

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Back to Cub Lake Camp

Visibility was a whole lot better getting back to the col and down the south side. As a matter of fact, all the clouds had lifted right when we got on Dome Glacier. Glacier Peak was once again visible. A couple of sections to get through and we were back on Itswoot Ridge just after dark. By then, the snow had softened significantly, and we slowly postholed our way back to camp.

Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Back to log crossing
Back to log crossing

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Heading Out

We took our time packing up before heading out. I kept looking back at Itswoot Ridge. Still couldn’t quite process all that we had crammed into one long day. Reversing our route back to Bachelor Creek Basin was way more straightforward. We took a few breaks over the long exit and eventually made it back out to Suiattle River Road.

So thankful to have brought our bikes for the approach. Now we got to ride downhill for the most part!

Downey Creek
Downey Creek

See more trip photos here.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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