Snowfield Peak via Neve Glacier and Pyramid Lake Trail / 雪原峯

  • Reading time:9 mins read

Snowfield Peak rises above Neve Glacier as the 10th highest peak on the Eldorado Massif. It’s also the 87th tallest peaks by elevation in the Cascades. Pyramid Lake Trail provides the most direct way to reach the peak.

Snowfield Peak from Neve Col camp
Snowfield Peak from Neve Col camp

See more trip photos here.

For Horsemans Pack trip, check out this post.

Snowfield Peak and Neve Peak at a Glance

Access: Pyramid Lake Trailhead 
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1120′-8347′
helmet, crampons, ice ax
GSP Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

The Preface

Snowfield Peak has been on my list for a long while. I had wanted to climb it even before I signed up for the Seattle Mountaineers basic climbing course in 2012. So good things came to those who wait, I suppose?

Most people here probably don’t know about the peak. But the iconic summit is notable among climbers and mountaineers alike. So, in the end, I decided to make the trip on my own.

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Pyramid Lake Trail

Despite the sunny forecast, the weather was a little iffy. Nevertheless, I was happy to have finally found a partner to climb the peak together. We spent the night by the trailhead so we could start bright and early.

Unfortunately, en route to Pyramid Lake, my partner expressed concerns. They decided that the trip would be too big of an endeavor to tackle. So they wanted to turn around when we reached the lake.

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Solo to Snowfield Peak

The sudden revelation was news to me, as we had started planning for the trip weeks ago. Oh well! But I told them I would keep going with or without a partner.

We took a break by the water. Then my partner went back to the car and I went on my merry way. Shortly past the lake was the starting of the would-be type 2 adventure.

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En Route to Colonial Glacier

After gaining lots of elevation over a short distance, I took a break below Colonial Glacier. The sun looked as though it was trying hard to get through the stubborn clouds over the mountains. Then I became a bit concerned after I arrived at camp and the area completely socked in.

Just the lower half of Colonial Glacier was visible. But no signs of Pyramid Peak, Pinnacle Peak, and Paul Bunyans Stump above the glacier. After hanging out for a while, I decided to move along. So the plan was to turn around in the morning should weather fail to improve after getting to the col.

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Colonial Glacier

To make matters worse, it started to drizzle just before I left the lower camp. When I finally reached Neve col, there was rain, snow, and hail. There was a great campsite on the col (main photo). It became so windy that I spent more time keeping the tent in place than setting it up. Then I ate some food and slept.

After waking up two hours later from my nap, outside sounded eerily quiet. Then I slowly peel open the tent door, and to my surprise, the storm had finally passed. I was ecstatic beyond words. The view of Snowfield Peak front and center was incredibly breathtaking.

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Neve Peak Sunset Climb

The clouds retreated behind the mountains; in turn, the horizon became much more dramatic. I decided to head up to Neve Peak as there was still plenty of daylight. Since the peak was a simple walk-up from camp, it would have been a pity not to go up.

At night, I awoke to a starry sky with the Milky Way hanging above Snowfield Peak. So I took out my camera and played with some settings to best capture the mood. Then afterward, I went right back to sleep in my comfy tent.

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Snowfield Peak Climb

The next morning I started walking at 7 AM. It was not yet too warm, so the snow was still in excellent conditions. I carefully weaved through crevasses and going up steep slopes. After a short time, I finally arrived at the flat area northwest of the summit.

The moat wasn’t an issue for me to get on rocks, and I was so glad for that. The traverse on the west ridge to the gully was straightforward by merely following some cairns. With one class 4 move over the notch, and I was down on the other side. The move put me at the top of a snow finger. It had just enough ice to make things a little sketchy.

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Snowfield Peak Summit

Leaving my ice ax and crampons at the top of the glacier was not a smart move. I didn’t feel safe kicking steps across the sheet of ice without any traction device. Thankfully, the moat at the top of the slope was wide enough but shallow for me to get around it. The final scramble to the top was on exposed class 3 terrain.

Views up here were outstanding. This peak was a vantage point to see the steep north faces of all the high points south of here. Many familiar faces included Eldorado Peak, Primus Peak, Forbidden Peak, Austera Peak, Dorado Needle, Mount Redoubt, and Luna Peak.

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This climb was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful ones this summer. Those who had told me about the sheer beauty of this place were right. I will need to come back again and spend more time here and explore the nearby peaks.

West ridge outro
West ridge outro

See more trip photos here.

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