2015/2/21 – Morning Star Peak / 晨星峯

Del Campo Peak at head of South Fork Stillguamish River Valley
Del Campo Peak at head of South Fork Stillguamish River Valley

 

This is a concise, high-level trip report. For detailed scramble route descriptions see nwhikers.net or summitpost.org.

My second time setting foot in the South Fork Stillaguamish River basin in a little over three years, and not much has changed, Other than peakbaggers and scramblers, the basin doesn’t get too many visitors due to brush and rock debris.

Located the faint climbers path turnoff immediately before Stillaguamish River crossing and started traversing southerly. Two hundred feet into the path the tall alder began to appear. The alder had completely taken head of the basin so the path was nearly unrecognizable. The fight with the alder continued for about 300 feet, then followed by another 300 feet of brush. By now, the hikers path had completely disappeared but we now had an open view of the basin. Sitting at the head of the basin is the imposing Del Campo Peak’s north face. (pictured)

After identifying the house-sized boulder, we the made our way over to the ramp along side the long, continuous slab wall. The ramp was fully of nothing but brush and alder, and it took some time to route find and slowly made our way up to the knob, which marked end of the ramp. Snow appeared around 4000’ and we saw some old boot tracks heading in the same direction.

There were about six inches of recent snow, presumably from the previous one night or two. The closer we got to the notch the more ice we felt underneath the new snow, and this would have been a good place to put on crampons to avoid sliding. Snow condition on the west side of the notch was much better as it had been in the sun for a couple of hours and wasn’t as icy. The gully on the other side of the notch was just as steep and icy as it had been described in other trip reports. The rocks to the right of the steep gully were exposed so I climbed on rocks instead and met up with my climbing partner stayed at the base of the summit block.

The west slope leading to the summit had just seen the sun when we arrived so it was still icy. With my spikes on and lots of veggie belay, I continued to mix climb when I could to avoid the icy areas. Climbing partner couldn’t get good foot holds so he decided to put on crampons. The snow condition got better as we got closer to the summit.

We spent quite some time on the summit because the weather was just too good for us to leave. The closeup view of Del Campo and Gothic Peaks was just breathtaking, and to the north Mount Baker was completely out of the clouds. Although the nearby eastern peaks were covered in clouds so we couldn’t get a good look at the Monte Cristo group, Sloan Peak, or Glacier Peak. We waited a while but the clouds were just too stubborn to move out of the way. Other than that, we were able to see peaks in all other directions.

On the way down, I put on crampons to better grip onto the icy slopes and it made the traverse back so much more enjoyable. Another beautiful day out on Mountain Loop Highway!

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