Dome Peak + Sinister Peak via Ptarmigan Traverse + Dome Glacier / 巨蛋峯

  • Reading time:20 mins read

Dome Peak and Sinister Peak by Ptarmigan Traverse nestle deep in Glacier Peak Wilderness. The former towers above Dome Glacier and the vast Chickamin Glacier. Meanwhile, the latter stands next to Gunsight Peak that overlooks Blue Glacier.

Chickamin Peak and Sinister Peak via Dome Glacier
Chickamin Peak and Sinister Peak via Dome Glacier

See more trip photos here.

Dome Peak and Sinister Peak 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

July 4-6, 2014

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 + Downey Creek Trail + Cub Lake

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

The Preface on Dome Peak and Sinister Peak

Dome Peak and Sinister Peak were my most scenic trips this season. It’s also memorable because I met three new climbing partners through a mutual friend. Logistics aside, everything else had worked according to plan.

Apart from the long way, my least favorite part of the trip was the eight-mile bike ride. Ironically, the decade-long road closure was to reopen in another four months! So we had put in more mileage to the outing than the later parties.

Eight miles to Downey Creek Trailhead
Eight miles to Downey Creek Trailhead

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Biking to Downey Creek

Coincidentally, I bought a bicycle to climb Green Mountain off Suiattle River Road a few years back. Since that trip never happened, the bike has sat in the garage. But with this outing, I made my first ride to a trailhead.

Downey Creek bridge was still under construction. So one by one, we crossed the top of the raging water via a shaky ladder. But it was exciting to see the finished product the following year.

The unfinished Downey Creek Bridge
The unfinished Downey Creek Bridge

See more trip photos here.

Downey Creek to Bachelor Creek Basin

Soon, flagging on the other side of the creek took us through down trees, slide alder, and dense brush. Then we were on track to reach the top of the basin. Views expanded in the upper drainage, where we found snow.

The hike to Six Mile Camp with spotty views in the forest was uneventful. Then It took some time to find the log over Bachelor Creek to cross. But glad we continued without needing to ford the raging water.

This way to Dome Peak
This way to Dome Peak

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Dome Peak via Cub Lake

Going down to Cub Lake from the pass was steep. Soon, we walked to the lake’s east end and set up our home for the next two nights. Then we crossed our fingers and hoped for better weather in the morning.

We made a quick birthday celebration right before bed for the youngest Bulger finisher, Lindsey Warren. Patrick even surprised her with a homemade treat. Then we turned in after the shindig.

Twenty miles from the car
Twenty miles from the car

See more trip photos here.


Day 2

Sinister Peak + Dome Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

See more trip photos here.

Itswoot Ridge to Dome Glacier

We woke up to a cloudy sky with dark clouds looming in the south the following day. After breakfast, we went up the steep slopes to Itswoot Ridge. Once on the ridge, the sky soon cleared up to let in the sun.

Shortly, we went through steep slopes on Dome Glacier in the sunshine. Then it flattened a bit as we went through the col onto the east. So we were now on top of Chickamin Glacier.

Rise and shine for Dome Peak
Rise and shine for Dome Peak

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En Route to Chickamin Glacier

Shortly, we set up the rappel to bypass the bergschrund. According to Kenny and Patrick, it was more profound a year ago when they turned around here. But with an early trip this time, we avoided the same ordeal.

We made firm steps as we rappeled to use on the return. It took only one 60m rope to reach the bottom. During this, I looked at both sides fo the gap and knew it very well could’ve been a deal-breaker.

En Route to Chickamin Glacier
En Route to Chickamin Glacier

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Traversing Chickamin Glacier

Dome Peak and Sinister Peak looked close on maps. But in reality, they were farther apart with the turns we took to avoid crevasses. We needed to drop even lower on Chickamin Glacier to climb Sinister Peak.

Because of illness, Mike decided to stay behind. But we first made sure he was in a safe spot on the glacier. Then the rest of us continued and to meet him after the climb.

Rappelling into Chickamin Glacier
Rappelling into Chickamin Glacier

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Sinister Peak North Route

We carefully rerouted several times and went through what I thought was the terrifying part. Some places even had crevasses above and below us. Soon, we were under Sinister Peak’s stunning north side.

Lower down, Kenny and Patrick opted to go around the backside of the ridge to climb through scree. But Linsey and I stayed and tackled the steep snow instead. I didn’t think it was as scary as it looked.

Steep snow below Sinister Peak north ridge
Steep snow below Sinister Peak north ridge

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Sinister Peak Climb

We met higher on the ridge after going up via different ways. Then we set up a hand line through places along the ridgeline with high exposure. 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 with a rope in my back, even the easy walk-up felt brutal. Soon, it drizzled as we made the final stretch up to the broad summit.

Sinister Peak north ridge
Sinister Peak north ridge

See more trip photos here.

Sinister Peak Summit Views

Views up here were scarce as the rain clouds moved into the area. But at some point, Dome Peak emerged from the mists during our short visit. Then the lousy weather soon crept in from the north as we left the top.

Afterward, we met up with Mike on Chickamin Glacier as he recovered. By then, more clouds had moved in, and the visibility was at its worst. Then we climbed over the crux in the mist using the firm steps.

Dome Peak from Sinister Peak
Dome Peak from Sinister Peak

See more trip photos here.

Dome Peak Climb

Kenny and Patrick had done Dome Peak the year before, so they went straight back to camp. But Mike, Linsey, and I stayed behind. And shortly, we moved up toward Dome Peak’s summit.

Because of the weak visibility, we couldn’t quickly pinpoint the summit, even with a GPS device in hand. But shortly, we spotted the anchor with webbing used by other parties. Glad to know that we were still on track!

Dome Peak bound
Dome Peak bound

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The Final Stretch

The most exciting part about climbing Done Peak was hands down the rock arête leading to the top. But without hesitation, Linsey grabbed the rope and quickly inched forward toward the summit. “You go, girl!” I shouted.

There was no way to protect the featureless narrow ridge. So Lindsey set up a hand line at the top as I slowly scooched my way over. After some hesitating, Mike decided to come up using the fixed rope.

Rock arête on the summit ridge
Rock arête on the summit ridge

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Dome Peak Summit Views

As luck would have it, clouds broke away the minute we went up on top. The inversion even formed right under our feet as we moved! Then we had an excellent 15-minute window of blue sky with the sun high above.

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.

A brief view from Dome Peak
A brief view from Dome Peak

See more trip photos here.

Leaving Dome Peak

Visibility had improved a great deal by the time we returned to the col. Then the clouds lifted right as we strolled through Dome Glacier. Soon afterward, Glacier Peak reappeared.

The three of us made it back to Itswoot Ridge just after dark. But unfortunately, the snow had significantly softened by then. So we slowly postholed our way back to camp.

En route back to Cub Lake
En route back to Cub Lake

See more trip photos here.


Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

The Grand Exit

On our final morning, we took time to pack up before leaving the basin. I couldn’t help but glance back at Itswoot Ridge continually. I still hadn’t processed all the climbing we crammed into one long day.

Going back to Bachelor Creek Basin was unexciting. Then it was a long way out to Suiattle River Road. So glad to have brought our bikes 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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