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

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

See more trip photos here.

Mount Formidable, in hindsight, would’ve been a much more enjoyable climb later in the season. Because we had a successful trip last weekend, I was looking forward to the rest of this season. The mountain was beyond beautiful, and even more so when it’s still under a layer of snow.

The Lowdown on Mount Formidable

Access: Cascade Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3480′-8325′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, rock, snow
GPS Track: available

Cascade Pass Trailhead to Cache Col

The snow conditions were less than ideal. By late morning, everything had become wet and knee-deep. I’m still wondering why we never used our snowshoes.

Upon arriving at Cache Col, suddenly it became clear why so many have made the Ptarmigan Traverse. Everywhere I looked was picturesque that I couldn’t take my eyes off of all the views. It was so scenic that I had a hard time putting down my camera.

Middle Fork Cascade River Valley
Middle Fork Cascade River Valley

See more trip photos here.

Red Ledges to Spider-Formidable Col

Somehow we got up to high while trying to locate the Red Ledge. But we managed to catch the mistake early and quickly retraced our steps and avoided cliffs. Getting up middle Glacier was physically taxing for me, especially in poor snow conditions. We postholed and dug up more wet snow with every step.

Our campsite by the Spider-Formidable Col was excellent. After doing some searching, we even found water trickling from the nearby slabs. We attempted to summit in the evening but then got off route; we were also short on daylight. The evening sky was full of vibrant colors. I got a good, albeit cold, night sleep.

Morning light
Morning light

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Mount Formidable Climb

Next morning we started at 6 AM to make use of the extended daylight. We also needed the extra time to get back to the trailhead at the end of a long day. The crux was the countless number of steep snow fingers in steep gullies. We managed to bypass most of them, if not all, on the way to the summit. Even though the sky was overcast, clouds were high up, and the views stretched for miles.

Glad the three of us all made it back down in one piece. It seemed to have taken much longer to get down because of the steep terrain. There weren’t many solid rocks to build anchors for rappel. We took a brief break back at camp before the long trek back to Cascade Pass trailhead.

Below Mount Formidable Summit
Below Mount Formidable Summit

See more trip photos here.

Back to Cascade Pass Trailhead

I still think this would have been a much more enjoyable trip with an extra day. Perhaps one day I’ll go back and try the Ptarmigan Traverse.

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