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

Inspiration Traverse, the trip I had put off up until this season. It wasn’t exactly something of an “inspiration” to me. To this non-snow fan, it took lots of self-motivation. So blame it on the Bulger List. Otherwise, crossing five glaciers in one day would never happen. Let alone climbing Primus Peak or Austera Peak.

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

See more trip photos here.

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.

Primus Peak and Austera Peak at a Glance

Access: Cascade River Road @ mile 18.5
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 2160′-8508′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, snow, rock
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Inspiration Traverse Approach

My partner and I first met on my way to climbing The Craggies with the pups. Then four years later, we planned to climb together on this trip. We moved efficiently from the car to the 6200′ notch. Then from there, we descended into Roush Creek Basin. Snow level was above the granite slabs at 6400′. We made use of the tracks left by skiers to get through Eldorado Glacier.

The lower part of the Inspiration Glacier was flattish. So it didn’t take long to get to the east ridge of Eldorado Peak. Then the boot trail took a sharp left turn and went uphill. From here, we could see the expansive Inspiration Glacier spanning across to the Klawatti Col. We then roped up and continued on the glacier following one set of days-old boot tracks.

Moraine Lake down below
Moraine Lake down below

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North Klawatti Glacier

From Klawatti Col, we headed north and then dropped partway onto McAllister Glacier. Then it was a short traverse to Klawatti Peak north col. With mixed climbing, we went over a notch and got onto Klawatti Glacier. The snow had softened by now. So we continued to rope up through this section.

Right before reaching Austera Towers, we descended the glacier to the eastern edge. Then from there, we crossed over to the north side on a short section of scree ramp. A short distance of sidestepping on steep snow finally put us on North Klawatti Glacier.

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Primus Peak Climb

We found an excellent camp spot a few hundred feet uphill from the icefall. After setting up camp, we identified a couple of steep snow ramps at the bottom of Primus Peak. Then we started walking toward the slopes. Then from there, the climb to the top was straightforward.

We stayed on snow in the lower parts of Primus Peak. Then we moved onto rocks beyond that. At a couple of hundred feet below the top, we moved onto the south ridge. Soon, we were scrambling up to the summit.

See more trip photos here.

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

See more trip photos here.

Primus Peak Summit Plus Views

We arrived at the flat, snow-free summit. The south side of North Klawatti Glacier was in and out of clouds. The evening sun lit up the mountain ranges gracefully. The Forbidden-Torment ridgeline changed colors as the light passed through moving clouds. Snowfield Peak, Jack Mountain, Goode Mountain, and Buckner Mountain were all in sight.

My partner headed back down to camp while I stayed behind to take more photos. Later, I caught up to him, and then we got back to camp at 40 minutes before sunset. The next day, we would spend the longest day of the year climbing Austera Peak. Then it was the long hike out. It was a starry night for photographing the star trails and Milky Way.

Star Trails over the peaks
Star Trails over the peaks

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Austera Peak Climb

The next morning, we packed up and left before the snowfield softened. Soon, we were back on the south side of Austera Towers. Then we climbed up the glacier while staying close to the wall. Eventually, we went up to 7800′ as the terrain flattened. There wasn’t much snow beyond that point. The upper east ridge was mostly dry. So that worked in our favor.

Austera Peak summit wasn’t visible until after we passed a few more spires. We made the traverse by staying on or south of the ridge crest. But we’d sometimes drop down to scree to bypass the cliffs. We got through exposed slopes before entering the summit gully. Here we stayed right on solid rocks. First, we made some 4th class mantle moves through the chimney. Then a short exposed scramble on the east face finally put us at the top.

Klawatti Peak to the south
Klawatti Peak to the south

See more trip photos here.

Austera Peak Summit Plus Views

Another beautiful day in the mountains! The cascading Forbidden Peak, Boston Peak, and Sahale Peak were especially gorgeous from this angle. There were views of the impressive Klawatti Peak and Dorado Needle. They were only two glaciers away and so close. This summit was a little small for two people. So we stayed just enough time to get our selfies before heading back down.

Back on the glacier, we followed our tracks and then went back to Klawatti Col. We tried climbing Klawatti Peak. But we had a hard time getting over the moats. So we turned around after spending an hour of route finding. Soon, we were making our way back through the Inspiration Glacier. We climbed back up to the 6200′ notch. Then we went down through the heather and talus to reach the trailhead.

Klawatti Peak to the south
Klawatti Peak to the south

See more trip photos here.

Outro

What a fantastic trip! But there was not enough time to savor all the views. I’m probably good for now before embarking on another glacier traverse. But we shall see.

See more trip photos here.

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