2015/6/12-13 – Snowfield Peak / 雪原峯

Neve Col camp

This had been a trip I wanted to go on since basic climbing with the Seattle Mountaineers in 2012. Due to the climb’s popularity, it was either always full or I had other engagements. Friday’s weather was a little iffy despite most sunny forecast. I had hoped to climb the peak with a partner, but the partner I had decided they weren’t ready for this and turned around at Pyramid Lake. I was stunned since I had planned the trip a week and a half before, but oh well. Everything was packed and I was already on the trail, decided we would part our ways at the lake and I would go on my merry way.

On the way to camp at the mouth of Colonial Glacier I saw the constant sunshine piercing through the layer of stubborn clouds surrounding this area. I got a little concerned because soon after I arrived at the camp I was in a complete whiteout. Colonial Glacier was only visible to about halfway up Neve Col, peaks surrounding the glacier were nowhere to be seen. I decided to move on but would turn around if the weather had worsened after getting to the col.

It started to drizzle just before I left the lower camp, and by the time I go to Neve Col it had turned into rain, snow, and even hale. There was a great camp site at the col (pictured), but it was so windy that even setting up my solo tent was a bit of a chore. After waking up from my nap couple hours later, I slowly unzipped the tent door and was shocked to see how sunny the weather had turned. But of course I was overjoyed and the view of Snowfield Peak itself was just breathtaking. The clouds receded but became even more dramatic behind the mountains in the horizon. There was plenty of daylight left so I headed up to Neve Peak. The peak was literally a walk-up from camp so would have been a pity not to go to the summit.

The next morning I started walking at 7 AM toward Snowfield Peak. It wasn’t too terribly warm yet so the snow was still in good conditions. After weaving through crevasses and up the steep slopes, I arrived at that flat area where most photos I’ve seen online were taken. Apparently moat wasn’t an issue on this glacier getting on the rocks, so thank goodness for that. Ridge traverse was straightforward all the way up into the gully. Class 4 move down the other wide of the gully notch put me at the bottom of the final scramble where there was a snow slope with just enough ice to make me nervous. I had left my ice ax crampons on the rocks at the top of the glacier so I wasn’t feeling comfortable kicking steps across the sheet of ice. But the moat at the top of the slope was wide enough but shallow for me to get around it. The rest of the scramble to the top was easy exposed class 3.

This was definitely one of the most scenic climbs I had done this summer, and people who had told me about the beauty of Snowfield were absolutely right. I’d definitely come back to the area again and spend more time so I can climb the other beautiful peaks.

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