Mount Formidable via Ptarmigan Traverse / 經雷鳥縱貫上畏懼山

Mount Formidable is an impressive mountain. It stands beside the Middle Cascade Glacier and Spider Mountain. We came in early so that we could make good use of the snow coverage. But this climb would have been more enjoyable later in the season. Our successful trip last weekend made me look forward to the rest of the season.

Mount Formidable and Middle Cascade Glacier from Cache Col
Mount Formidable and Middle Cascade Glacier from Cache Col

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Mount Formidable at a Glance

Access: Cascade Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3480′-8325′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, rock, snow
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Cascade Pass Trailhead to Cache Col

As it turned out, snow conditions were poor. Though the weather was excellent, the heat was working against us. And by the late morning, the sun had softened the snow significantly. In turn, it was knee-deep in many places. To this day, I still wonder why we never used our snowshoes. I knew we carried them for a reason!

We arrived at Cache Col in mid-morning. Then suddenly, it became clear to me why many have made their journey through the Ptarmigan Traverse. Everywhere I looked made a perfect framing for a photo. It was incredibly scenic that I could not put down the camera.

Middle Fork Cascade River Valley
Middle Fork Cascade River Valley

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Red Ledge to Spider-Formidable Col

We somehow went up too high while trying to find the Red Ledge. But we caught the mistake early. So we quickly retraced our steps to avoid cliffs. Getting through the Middle Cascade Glacier was laborious, especially in today’s snow conditions. We postholed while digging up more wet snow with every step.

Our campsite was on the Spider-Formidable Col. We even found water trickling from the nearby slabs. With much daylight left in the day, we attempted to climb Mount Formidable. But since we were never on the route, to begin with, we didn’t get very far. So we went back to camp instead.. The sky was full of vibrant colors in the evening. I got a good, but cold, night’s rest.

Morning light
Morning light

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Mount Formidable Climb

The next morning, we started walking at 6 AM. So we could make use of the extended daylight. We also needed to consider the time it would take us to get back to the trailhead from camp. The crux was the numerous snow fingers in the steep gullies. But we managed to bypass most of them on the approach. It was overcast. But views stretched for miles because of high clouds.

It was an arduous climb. Then it took a while to downclimb the steep terrain. There weren’t many solid rocks to use for rappelling to speed up the process. But glad that all three of us made it back down in one piece. We took a short break back at camp. Then we made the long journey back to Cascade Pass Trailhead.

Below Mount Formidable Summit
Below Mount Formidable Summit

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Back to Cascade Pass Trailhead

This trip would have been much more enjoyable if we had an extra day. Perhaps one day I’ll come back and do the Ptarmigan Traverse.

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