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

The Chickamin Slam was one of my most scenic outings this season. It was also memorable because I met two new climbing partners. But my least favorite part of the climb was the eight-mile bike ride. Ironically, the road was to reopen in just four months!

Chickamin Slam via Dome Glacier
Chickamin Slam via Dome Glacier

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Chickamin Slam at a Glance

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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Biking to Downey Creek

Coincidentally, a few years back, I bought my bike to climb Green Mountain. But that trip never happened because of other plans. So since then, the hike gathered dust in the garage. But with this trip, I was able to put it to work on my first ride to a trailhead.

As it turned out, the construction of the Downey Creek bridge was still underway. So the way to get over the unfinished structure was the shaky ladder. One by one, we climbed on top and crossed the raging creek. But I couldn’t wait to see the finished product.

Unfinished Downey Creek Bridge
Unfinished Downey Creek Bridge

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Downey Creek Trail to Bachelor Creek Basin

The views through the dense forest were spotty. So the hike to Six Mile Camp was uneventful. Once we hiked through the Bachelor Creek Trail, it took some time to find the log crossing. But glad we found the right place to cross without fording the raging creek.

Once on the other side of the creek, the flagging took us around down trees, slide alder, and dense brush. It also guided us in the general direction up toward the head of the basin. Later, views expanded in the upper drainage where we saw snow at last.

Green, green, green
Green, green, green

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Going Down to Cub Lake

The terrain to go down to Cub Lake from the pass was steep. From the bottom of the hills, we then went to the east end of the lake. Then we set up our home for the next two nights. The weather over Itswoot Ridge looked iffy in the evening. But we crossed our fingers and hoped for better weather in the morning.

Just before bed, we made a quick birthday celebration for our youngest Bulger finisher. So Lindsey Warren had 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 for Chickamin Slam
Rise and shine for Chickamin Slam

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Itswoot Ridge to Dome Glacier

The next morning, we woke up to a cloudy sky. There were also dark clouds to the south. We did a steep climb up to Itswoot Ridge. Later, the sky cleared up to let in the sun. The sunshiny weather got us through to Dome Glacier. Then we went up through the col to the east side.

We were now at the top of Chickamin Glacier.

The col at last
The col at last

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Going into Chickamin Glacier

At first, we dropped down through steep terrain. At the same time, we went over the bergschrund crux. So Kenny and Patrick turned around here a year ago. The chasm was much wider back then. But this year, they moved the trip earlier to this weekend. So we could avoid facing the same ordeal.

We rappeled and made solid steps as we went down to the glacier. By doing so, we would then make good use of our tracks on the way back. It took just one 60-meter rope length to go over the crux. At the same time, I looked at both sides and knew that the bergschrund could make or break the trip.

Going down to Chickamin Glacier
Going down to Chickamin Glacier

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Chickamin Glacier Traverse

To climb Sinister Peak, we still had to lose more elevation through Chickamin Glacier. The Chickamin Slam looked closer on maps. But they were farther apart in person, especially with the zigzagging through crevasses. Because of sickness, Mike stayed behind on the glacier. But the rest of us continued.

It took careful rerouting to go through the steepest and most unnerving part. Hidden bergschrunds were above and below us. Later, we came below Sinister Peak’s impressive north side. Then Kenny and Patrick opted to go around the backside of the ridge. So they climbed through scree while Linsey and I went on steep snow on the north.

Setting up a hand line
Setting up a hand line

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Sinister Peak of Chickamin Slam

The four of us met up shortly. Then we set up a hand line to go through places with high exposure along the ridge. Later, we finished the climb on class 2 terrain up to the top. I could still feel the effect of Tylenol PM from the night before. So the easy walk-up felt brutal with a rope in my pack. It drizzled just as we went up on the summit.

The views up here were scarce. But at last, Dome Peak emerged from the clouds during our short stay. The lousy weather slowly crept in from the north just as we left the summit. Later, we met Mike back on the glacier. But then, clouds rolled in with low visibility. Then we climbed back up through the bergschrund in the mists.

Dome Peak of Chickamin Slam
Dome Peak of Chickamin Slam

See more trip photos here.

Dome Peak of Chickamin Slam

Kenny and Patrick climbed Dome Peak last year. So they went back to camp. But the three of us stayed behind. Shortly, we moved up toward Dome Peak’s summit. Because the visibility was weak, even with my GPS device in hand, it was still difficult to pinpoint the summit. Soon, we spotted the webbing other parties had used for their rappel.

Then there was the rock arête that led up to the top. Without hesitation, Linsey grabbed her rope and inched forward toward the summit. There would be no way to protect the narrow ridge. So Lindsey set up a hand line at the top while I scooched my way over. Mike then came up last using the hand line.

In a whiteout
In a whiteout

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Dome Peak Summit Plus Outro

As luck would have it, the minute we came up, clouds suddenly broke away. Then we had an excellent 15-minute window of blue sky with the temperature inversion below us. Clouds had shrouded nearby high points. So there wasn’t a whole lot to see. But the sun sure was pure bliss. Soon, we made our way down the peak before the mists returned.

Visibility was much better when we went back to the col. Then the clouds lifted right when we walked down onto Dome Glacier. Soon, Glacier Peak reappeared. We made it back to Itswoot Ridge just after dark. But the snow had softened greatly by then. So from there, we slowly postholed our way back to camp.

Stillness lay
Stillness lay

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Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Leaving Chickamin Slam
Leaving Chickamin Slam

See more trip photos here.

Leaving Chickamin Slam

On our last morning, we packed up slowly before leaving. I looked back at Itswoot Ridge repeatedly. But I still hadn’t processed all that climbing we crammed into one long day. Going back to Bachelor Creek Basin was uneventful. Then it was a long way back out to Suiattle River Road.

So glad to have brought our bikes for the road. 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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