Ptarmigan Peak + Dot Mountain / 雷鳥峯+圓點山

Kodak moment on Ptarmigan Peak
Kodak moment on Ptarmigan Peak

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The Lowdown on Ptarmigan Peak and Dot Mountain

Access: Buckskin Ridge Trailhead at Slate Pass
Round Trip: 36 miles
Elevation Range: 5200′-8614′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

Preface

I had underestimated the scale of the Pasayten Wilderness during our first visit three years ago. At the end of that trip, pups and I only got four out of the six peaks on the itinerary. Ptarmigan Peak and Lost Peak were father away. So for pups’ sake, I decided to save them for another trip.

Last year, yellow pup and I climbed Monument Peak and Lake Mountain. We included Lost Peak on that trip as well. Since these peaks required a great approach, I then put off Ptarmigan Peak until the end. It was my 92nd peak on the Bulger List. It was also during this trip that the Goodell Fire broke out. So it caused the shutdown of the North Cascades Highway for three weeks. As a result, there was no access between Newhalem and Mazama.

Slate Pass
Slate Pass

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Slate Pass to the Lago-Carru Col

The weather was fair during the approach from Slate Pass to Freds Pass. Then the rain came on our way down into Eureka Creek Basin. We took shelter under big trees and waited a short while for the rainfall to stop. Soon afterward, we continued the approach to the Lago-Carru col. Visibility was weak when we arrived at the col, and the north side looked steep in clouds. 

When clouds receded 15 minutes later, we finally had some sunshine. It was encouraging to see the rest of the approach. But the clouds rolled in again when we arrived at the campsite by the 7400′ tarn north of Mount Lago. Since there wasn’t much to do when clouds socked in the area, we turned in shortly after dinner.

Staring contest by the campsite
Staring contest by the campsite

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En Route to Dot Mountain

Next morning, we awoke to a blue sky. Soon, we left camp past 6 AM after sunrise. We first made it up to the saddle north of Point 8207. Then we followed the ridgeline and headed north, meanwhile bypassing Point 8165 on its left on a climbers path. From the north of Point 8165, the traverse to Dot Mountain was straightforward.

The pup and I took a short break on Dot Mountain. Then we set off on the last mile of ridge traverse to Ptarmigan Peak via gentle, class 2 terrain. By the time we got up to the summit, we were 18 miles from the car. So, 18 more miles to go to get back to the car by the end of the day.

Summit dogs on Dot Mountain
Summit dogs on Dot Mountain

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Ptarmigan Peak Summit Plus Out

Compared with its gentle southern slopes, the north face of Ptarmigan Peak was nearly vertical. The Lago group dominated the southern skyline, with views of Pasayten Wilderness for miles on end. It was quite windy on the summit. So we stayed just long enough to take some photos. I also let the pup get some rest before heading back down.

On the way back, we bypassed Dot Mountain summit by crossing its eastern slopes. But in hindsight, we should’ve gone over the top for a much more comfortable traverse. Afterward, we followed our route back to the campsite. After packing up, we both took a power nap for the long trek back to Slate Pass.

En route back to camp
En route back to camp

See more trip photos here.

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