Primus Peak + Austera Peak / 普賴默斯峯+奧斯特拉峯

Klawatti Peak and Austera Peak from Primus Peak
Klawatti Peak and Austera Peak from Primus Peak

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Inspiration Traverse, the one traverse I had put off until this season. Despite all of the marvelous reports and photos, it wasn’t exactly something of an “inspiration.”. To this non-snow fan, it took lots of pep talk to feel motivated. If it weren’t for the list, crossing five glaciers in one day would have never crossed my mind.

My first time on the Icecap group was climbing Eldorado Peak in 2013 with the Seattle Mountaineers. Back then, clouds shrouded the area most of the day. The views were almost nonexistent to appreciate the sheer beauty. Luckily, this time, the weather was on our side with abounding views. But it was a little warm for a June ascent.

The Lowdown on Primus Peak and Austera Peak

Access: Cascade River Road @ mile 18.5
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 2160′-8508′
Gear: helmet, ice axe, snow, rock
GPS Track: available

Inspiration Traverse Approach

My partner and I met on my way to The Craggies with the pups. Then four years later, we got this opportunity to climb together. We made decent time going from car to the 6200′ notch. Then from there, we descended into Roush Creek Basin. Snow level at 6400′, about halfway up the granite slabs. We took advantage of the tracks left by early-season skiers through Eldorado Glacier.

The lower section of the Inspiration Glacier was mostly flat. Then at the bottom of Eldorado east ridge, most foot traffic took a sharp left turn heading uphill. From here, we could see the vast Inspiration Glacier spanning across to Klawatti col. We roped up and followed a set of days-old foot tracks heading in the same direction.

Moraine Lake down below
Moraine Lake down below

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Onto North Klawatti Glacier

From Klawatti col, we headed north and dropped partway down onto McAllister Glacier. Then it was just a short traverse to Klawatti Peak north col. With mixed climbing, we climbed over a notch and made it onto Klawatti Glacier. By now the snow became slushy, so we stayed roped up through this part. Just before reaching Austera Towers, we descended to the eastern edge of the towers. Then from there, we crossed over to the north side via a short scree ramp. A short section of sidestepping on steep snow finally put us on North Klawatti Glacier.

We found an excellent camp spot just a few hundred feet uphill from the icefall. After setting up camp, we identified a couple of steep snow ramps at the base Primus Peak. Then we started walking toward them. From here on out, the climb itself was straightforward. We stayed on snow in the lower section and then transitioned onto rocks. A couple of hundred feet below the summit, we traversed onto the south ridge and scrambled to the top.

Primus Peak over North Klawatti Glacier
Primus Peak over North Klawatti Glacier

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Primus Peak Summit

We arrived at the flat, snow-free summit. The south side of North Klawatti Glacier was in and out of clouds. Evening glow lit up mountain ranges so beautifully. The Forbidden-Torment ridgeline changed colors as the light pierced through moving clouds. Nice to see some recognizable peaks in the area: Snowfield Peak, Jack Mountain, Goode Mountain, and Buckner Mountain. My partner headed back down to camp while I stayed behind to take more photos.

We got back to camp 40 minutes before sunset. Tomorrow we’ll get to spend the longest day of the year climbing Austera Peak, followed by the long trek out. A starry night for taking photos of the star trails and Milky Way.

Stars over Primus Peak and Tricouni Peak
Stars over Primus Peak and Tricouni Peak

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En Route to Austera Peak

Next morning, we packed up and headed out before the snow became slushy. We got back to the south side of Austera Towers and climbed parallel to the towers. Then we reached 7800′ where terrain flattened. Not much snow left beyond that point. Plus, snow on the upper east ridge had melted off, and that worked in our favor.

Summit wasn’t visible until we passed a few more spires by staying on or south of the ridge crest. Occasionally, we’d dropped down to scree to bypass the cliffs. We got through exposed class 3 slopes before entering the summit gully. Here we stayed right on more solid rocks. We first made a few 4th class mantle moves through the chimney. Then a short class 3 exposed scramble on the east face got us to the top.

Klawatti Peak to the south
Klawatti Peak to the south

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Austera Peak Summit

Another beautiful day on the neighborhood! I loved the cascading Forbidden Peak, Boston Peak, and Sahale Peak from this angle. Plus the daunting Klawatti Peak and Dorado Needle I was still hoping to climb this season. They were merely two glaciers away; so damn close. The summit was a little tight for two. So we stayed just long enough to get our selfies before heading back down.

Back on the glacier, we reversed our route to get back to Klawatti Col. We tried climbing Klawatti Peak, but had a hard time bypassing the moats and get onto rocks. To no avail, after an hour of route finding, we turned around. Then we started making our way back across Inspiration Glacier. Climbed back up to the 6200′ notch, down through heather and talus, then forest and back to the cars.

Klawatti Peak to the south
Klawatti Peak to the south

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Outro

What a fantastic trip, though, not enough time to savor all the views. I’m probably good for now before taking on another snowy traverse. But we shall see.

See more trip photos here.

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