Excelsior Peak by Church Mountain / 靠教堂山的愛克賽希爾峯

It felt great to check off a redo last weekend. Other than climbing Mount Baker, we haven’t been up in this area much. So Excelsior Peak was a perfect excuse to come back. The pups and I had made just one other scramble on Church Mountain Lookout. But it was five years ago.

Excelsior Peak up ahead
Excelsior Peak up ahead

See more trip photos here.

Excelsior at a Glance

Access: Excelsior Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1840′-5712′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

High Divide Trail

There was enough parking at the trailhead since we were the only ones there! The concern I had was the snow conditions. It was already warm when we started after 9 AM. This area is a grizzly country. So we armed ourselves with bear spray and bear bells. The pups were also on the leash the entire time below the tree lines

The trail was in excellent shep. The switchbacks were enough to offset the elevation gain. So I knew it was likely a hikers paradise in the summer. Snow started showing up at 3800′. Then the trail disappeared just past the switchback there. Once I began to posthole, I then put on snowshoes at 3840′.

Gorgeous day
Gorgeous day

See more trip photos here.

Onward to Excelsior Peak

Later, we followed old tracks up to the clearing. Then we went back into the forest on firmer snow. From there, we were able to go straight up the hill. Before that, we were trying to go in the direction of the summer trail. Snowshoes came in very handy on this trip.

We went up another thousand feet. At the same time, we saw more old tracks going in different directions. But it was easier just to make our own. So we roamed through moderate to steep terrain until we were out of the forest at 5000′. It’s where the summer trail would usually veer left toward Excelsior Pass.

Excelsior Pass above
Excelsior Pass above

See more trip photos here.

Direct Approach

But the pups and I stayed straight. Then we went up onto the south shoulder of Excelsior Peak at 5400′. We took the steep slopes and went up toward the summit. Up until now, we were in the forest mostly. So there hadn’t been a whole lot to see.

Right above the tree line, the impressive views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan appeared. So I couldn’t help but make many stops for photos. Soon, we made our way through the last 300′ and went up to the top.

The last 300 feet to Excelsior Peak
The last 300 feet to Excelsior Peak

See more trip photos here.

Excelsior Peak Summit Plus Views

The summit was treeless with breathtaking views. They included the Canadian peaks north of the border, which was just several miles away. It was still early in the day. So we made a side trip over to Peak 5930. It was just a little over a mile to the east. So we could get a closer look at the eastern peaks.

We stayed on the ridge alongside snowmobile tracks mostly. But we would sometimes go back into the forest to avoid cornices. This summit was woodsy. So to see a clear view, we went down the east end. Then we stopped just as the elevation lowered. Views there were just as impressive.

Mount Baker
Mount Baker

See more trip photos here.

Outro

On the way down, we followed our trail to the saddle east of Excelsior Peak. Then we dropped into the basin while staying high. So we could meet up with our tracks on the south shoulder. It had become quite warm. But snowshoeing in slush still wasn’t too annoying yet.

Back in the forest, I saw some new boot tracks. But it looked like the person had turned around from postholing.

Colfax Peak and Lincoln Peak
Colfax Peak and Lincoln Peak

See more trip photos here.

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