Photos from this trip can be found here.
Chair Peak had long been on my list since I started scrambling, and finally glad I was able to get to it on a decent fall weather day. The peak was also my last peak to bag in this area.
Getting from the car to end of Source Lake Trail below the upper basin was pretty straightforward. Beyond that, I managed spot some cairns and followed the faint climbers trail to the top of the gully with water coming down, but stayed mostly on the left to avoid water and wet rocks. I caught up to a fellow climber in the gully and he mentioned he would turn around if the rocks continued to be wet and sketchy. That was the last time I saw the guy.
At the top of the gully just below the head wall I somehow missed a couple of cairns leading to the right and into the trees. I examined the head wall and it looked class 4/5, figured that was a technical route climbed with gear. Just as I retraced my steps down the talus I noticed the cairns I had missed earlier and followed it into the upper basin. Once in the upper basin (pictured), Beckey’s route descriptions finally all made sense, and even saw the “thumb tack” I had been looking for in the lower basin.
Upon reaching the described class 4 gully/chimney I began heading up with lots of good holds, and stayed to the left pretty much all the way to the notch. The only problem encountered in the gully was the wet rocks due to the lack of sunlight this late in the season, There were belay stations along the way with long webbings hanging down so I used those to aid me up the slabs and/or steps. It got steeper the higher I went but the holds were generally good.
Once at the notch, it took some time figuring out a good way to drop into the north gully to attain upper south ridge for the last bit of exposed climb in the gully. From the notch I saw Melakwa Lake Basin, plus a very faint path coming up the west gully. It looked like an easier route but would require entering from Denny Creek through Melakwa Lakes.
It took 20 minutes going from the notch to the summit, and the entire climb turned out to be more intense than I had anticipated. Who knew after climbing all the big mountains this season I’d still feel the adrenaline rush on a smaller peak.
Great views on top pretty much everywhere except in the direction of Snoqualmie Mountain. Clouds hovered over the South Fork Snoqualmie River Basin and rolled in and out of Snow Lake entire time I was on the summit.
After spending 45 minutes on top I then made my way down the summit block and back to the notch. A couple of rappels and some down climbing later I was back in the upper basin. I retraced my route back to the lower basin and made it back to the car just after dark.