2014/8/9-10 – Golden Slam / 黃金滿貫

On the approach
Exiting on PCT

Golden Slam = Tower Mountain + Golden Horn

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Most relaxing and straightforward approach to camp this year on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Snowy Lakes nestled between Tower Mountain and Golden Horn had since become one of my top three favorite camp spots.

All except the last half mile to camp was spent on trekking the PCT. On the way to Cutthroat Pass, a group of PCT workers worked tirelessly under midsummer heat accompanied by swarms of mosquitoes. I thanked them profusely for making this such a pleasant trek.

PCT workers
PCT workers

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Impact of recent wildfires was evident upon arriving at the pass. Visibility was limited to adjacent valleys and not much more beyond. Hoards of trail runners took advantage of good weather by running up from Cutthroat Lake. Never knew this was a hotbed for trail running.

The “wow” moment came when PCT took a turn heading northwestward, with Tower Mountain’s colossal figure in full view. Initially I mistook Tower Mountain for Golden Horn because Golden Horn had entirely submerged in heavy smoke. We passed a couple of groups before getting off PCT on a hikers trail by a small cairn and heading northward.

Distant party noises from Upper Snowy Lake made it obvious for us to pick the lower lake as our overnight spot. Our camp was closer to Tower Mountain, which we went up immediately after pitching the tent and getting a quick bite. Coolest thing was my second cave discovery this season (first discovery on Bonanza) before reaching Tower Mountain’s rockfall-prone west gully.

Objective #1
Tower Mountain from camp

Photos from this trip can be found here.

The mountain certainly lived up to its name with its seven-foot summit cairn built by the first ascent party in 1913. By now smoke had cleared up significantly, and Golden Horn was entirely visible on the other end of the ridge. Beautiful views all around! We took a one-hour break on top before descending the steep west gully.

Armed with enough daylight until sunset, pup and I made our way toward Golden Horn after a quick stop back at camp. Straightforward and nearly brush free approach made up for the extra time spent in the sketchy scree gully. We got to the base of summit tower one hour before sunset. Pup remained on the platform while I climbed to the top with a low 4th class move. Also brought my rope to rappel off the summit afterward.

Good night
Good night

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Twenty feet below me was an exhausted pup who only cared about getting a summit nap. Beautiful golden hour colors begged me to stay until sunset, but getting off the top safely before dark was more important than savoring the last light. We made it back to camp before darkness completely set in. Most campers had turned in for the night if not already asleep.

Next morning we woke up to a clear blue sky with a tint of haze. The group of four backpackers from Whidbey Island and I chatted for a while while pup carefreely enjoyed his time in the water. The group had wanted to climb Golden Horn, but decided to enjoy mountain views by the lake.

Till next time
Till next time

On the way out we met two llamas near Cutthroat Pass and passed the same group of PCT workers below the pass.

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