Devore Slam Devoured Us / 深感德沃雷滿貫

Kodak moment on Flora Mountain

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I can’t remember the last time both of us felt this exhausted from a backpacking trip. This trip was one of the most memorable ones with several new experiences. This trip was pup’s first ride on a seaplane, plus our first time canoeing. We also entered the area the day before wildfire closure. Eek! I was just here two months ago climbing Dark Peak, which was an unforgettable experience in itself.

The Lowdown on Devore Slam

Devore Slam = Tupshin Peak + Devore Peak + Flora Mountain
德沃雷滿貫=塔普遜峯+德沃雷峯+佛羅拉山

Access: Devore Creek Trailhead 
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1160′-8360′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

Logistics Overview

July 31 – August 3, 2015

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Day 1 – Friday, July 31
Seaplane – Chelan to Stehekin
Canoe – Stehekin to Weaver Point Campground
Night 1 – Bird Creek at 5,500′

Day 2 – Saturday, August 1
Tupshin Peak + Devore Peak
Night 2 – Bird Creek at 5,500′

Day 3 – Sunday, August 2
Flora Mountain
Night 3 – Bird Creek Camp

Day 4 – Monday, August 3
Exit via Stehekin River Trail


Day 1

Seaplane + Canoe + Devore Creek Trail

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

New fires along the lake
New fires along the lake

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Seaplane to Stehekin, Washington

The pup and I boarded the plane to Stehekin with another couple. While in the air, we witnessed what was to become the most significant wildfire season in Washington State history. Halfway up Lake Chelan, smoke from the Wolverine Fire began spewing out of several gorges west of the lake. Smoke had permeated Chelan sky to obscure south views when we landed in Stehekin.

The couple on the plane offered us their canoe to get to Weaver Point Campground. That saved us the need to head north to Harlequin Bridge on Stehekin Shuttle. Not to mention having to hike three miles southbound to Weaver Point afterward. Due to the new fire, the Devore Creek Trail became the detour of Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers.

First time for everything
First time for everything

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Approach to Bird Creek Camp

We didn’t see anyone on Devore Creek Trail the day we went in. There was also no one on the trail when we climbed Flora Mountain. It seemed odd since I expected to see many PCT through-hikers. But then everything made sense when we exited on day four. Forest service had updated the sign by the trailhead to “area closed until further notice.”. It was unnerving to find out later that we were the only ones around.

The approach was hot and sweaty. Soon after getting through switchbacks on the lower trail, Stehekin had disappeared into the smoke. We began scrambling from Bird Creek Camp at 4100′. Son, we found a flat area at 5,500′ in lower Bird Creek Basin and camped. The starry night was perfect for night photography.

Once upon another time
Once upon another time

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Day 2

Tupshin Peak + Devore Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Good morning Tupshin
Good morning Tupshin

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Tupshin Peak Climb

Shortly after sunrise, we left camp and headed northward. We scrambled on steep terrain to get to Tupshin’s southeast shoulder. Then at 7000′, we descended into the big talus basin below Tupshin’s southeast face. The pup stayed on a big snow patch at 7200′ while I went to tag the peak. Initially, I misread the beta and went too far east. Soon, I made my way back to Tupshin’s east ridge and got onto the standard route below the summit.

The spacious summit came with a newly placed register from days before. Smoke seemed to have multiplied hundredfold from Wolverine Fire to the south by Holden Village. Not sure if pup could hear me, but I continually yelled out to assure him of my presence. I saw a tiny yellow dot moving about on the snow patch, so I knew he was all right. The route to Devore Peak looked straightforward from here. I also checked out next day’s objective, Flora Mountain, two basins to the southeast. Everything sure looked far in person!

Wolverine Fire
Wolverine Fire

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Back to Bird Creek Basin

On the descent, I down climbed except at the belay station with old, raggedy webbing. I backed up the anchor to be safe right before rappelling. My 30-meter alpine rope worked great in getting me onto the ledge below. Then I down climbed rest of the way on southeast face back to the talus and reunited with the pup. He probably wondered where I was all this time when he only heard my voice from above.

We first got back to the 7000′ shoulder. Then we descended 1000′ heading southwest on steep slopes into Bird Creek Basin. For some reason, I couldn’t locate the reported gully. So instead, we stayed north of the creek and veggie belayed up to the outlet of the moraine lakes.

Upper Basin with Devore Peak
Upper Basin with Devore Peak

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En Route to Devore Peak

We traveled south on gentle terrain to the 7,500′ notch on the peak’s east ridge. For the most part, we were able to stay on the ridge crest. Then we bypassed gendarmes from the north and got back on the ridge crest shortly after. Traveling south of the ridge, we eventually got to the west of the peak’s south ridge. We carefully worked our way through exposed sections and arrived at the 4th class steps before the false summit.

The pup stayed here as it wasn’t conducive to getting him up the steps. I bypassed the false summit on the west. Then just around the corner, I saw the actual high point on the other side of a steep gully. It was an easy scramble from there and beyond. Though, I couldn’t imagine crossing this section in snow.

The crux on Devore Peak
The crux on Devore Peak

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Devore Peak Summit with Views

I looked for Tupshin Peak right after summiting. Holy cow, Tupshin looked so pointy from here! Did I climb that thing this morning? Everywhere I looked was smoky, and the start of Goode Fire caught my attention right away. Guess my chance of getting Goode Mountain this season was slim since access would most likely be closed off. Not sure if pup could hear me around the false summit. But I yelled out several times, so he knew I was still around.

The air had become more polluted. As a result, I was beginning to feel ash in my ears and nostrils. I reunited with the pup below the steps, and then we hurried down the east ridge. Once again, I tried to locate the reported gully but to no avail. So instead, we followed our route back to the lower basin. It became dark just before we re-entered the forest. With a short section of bushwhacking and we’re back at the camp.

Tupshin Peak from Devore Peak
Tupshin Peak from Devore Peak

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Day 3

Flora Mountain

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Flora Mountain looming behind
Flora Mountain looming behind

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Flora Mountain Climb

Neither of us wanted to get up this morning, knowing that we had a much longer day ahead. We headed down to Bird Creek Camp and dropped off overnight gear before setting off for Flora Mountain. Feeling heavy-footed, we hiked up to Fourth of July Basin. Then we left the trail and scrambled toward the gully next to Riddle Peak’s north peak. A large cairn on the pass meant we were still on the right track. Smoke from the south obscured the views into Riddle Creek drainage. Our water was running low at this point.

From the pass, we headed north and bypassed Point 7716 on its south while traversing eastward. We were mostly able to stay on the rocky ridge crest until the 7400′ notch west of Point 7734. Then we dropped down onto the scree slopes and slowly made our way across to Point 7640. From there, we bypassed the north cliffs from the east and went into the meadow. On the way out, I realized we could have easily avoided the point from the west.

Talus and smoke for days
Talus and smoke for days

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Final Stretch on Flora Mountain

We were both thirsty. Even though I saw water down in the basin, I was too lazy to drop elevation. The pup found a hidden snow patch with a small pool of water, so we immediately took advantage of it. Afterward, I located a faint climbers path on the southwest face. Then we followed it for a while before it dwindled by the talus. Getting through the last couple of hundred feet to the top felt like an eternity. We both felt so weak that we took one step at a time while leapfrogging.

The wildfires were so distracting that I never took a summit nap. The Wolverine Fire grew larger since yesterday, judging by the size of the eruption like smoke permeating the sky. A couple of small fires started to form on the north side of Lucerne Mountain across the basin. Tupshin and Devore looked so far away from here, still couldn’t believe we climbed those just the day before. Distant mountains were hard to see because of the smoke. Even the close ones looked hazy. We rested long enough to recoup before going back down.

Summit dogs on Flora Mountain
Summit dogs on Flora Mountain

It got completely dark when we reached the bottom of the gully in Fourth of July Basin. We took a power nap among talus then finished scrambling out onto Devore Creek Trail. We hurried back to Bird Creek Camp and got some rest before the long trek out bright and early. The rain came down during the night. Luckily, the tree coverage kept the rainfly from becoming overly wet.

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Day 4

Exit via Stehekin River Trail

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Exiting

The alarm sounded at 3 AM, and we were moving by 3:30 AM. We needed to allow ourselves time to catch the 9:45 AM shuttle from Harlequin Bridge. Back at the Devore Creek Trailhead, we hiked north on Stehekin River Trail. It was by far the most mosquito-infested trail we’ve come across. These buggers were immune to deet! Most of the time, we were half running to try and get them off our faces.

By the time we came out of the jungle by the landing strip, most of the mosquitoes had disappeared. Right before we got to Harlequin Bridge, a ranger in her truck stopped us in our tracks. She asked if I were the guy climbing with my dog. The couple with the canoe mentioned us to her, so she kept an eye out for us. Talk about hospitality at its best! She then offered us a ride back into town. We stopped at the Stehekin Bakery to get a bite before catching the shuttle back to the dock.

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Back to Stehekin Dock

Food has never tasted so good after an extended climbing trip. Back at the dock, I found out that the seaplanes had stopped running due to the fire. So we waited a few more hours for the ferry to come in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the pup slept very comfortably under the community bulletin board the minute we got to the dock. He didn’t move an inch until the ferry arrived. Hard to believe he was THAT exhausted!

The pup slept in the crate through the entire during of the ride back to Chelan. The 4-hour ride went by fast as a couple chatted with me about the trip and photography. The husband was curious about the Bulger List and asked me a bunch of questions about our journey.

We got into Chelan at 6 PM. Then we spent the next 3.5 hours driving home to Seattle.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

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