Luna Peak Keeper of the Pickets / 露娜峯尖樁山脈的看守

Luna Peak towering above Access Creek Basin
Luna Peak towering above Access Creek Basin

See more trip photos here.

This trip was my last-minute plan to climb Luna Peak. In turn, it ended up being one of the season highlights. Pup and I slept by the trailhead so we could catch the early water taxi in the morning. But if we were to hike to Big Beaver Campground, it would have added 14 miles roundtrip to the trip.

The Lowdown on Luna Peak

Access: Ross Dam Trailhead
Round Trip: 45 miles
Elevation Range: 1600′-8311′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice axe
GPS Track: available

Logistics Overview

June 25-27, 2016

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Saturday, June 25
Water taxi – Ross Dam Trailhead to Big Beaver Campground
Big Beaver Trail to Access Creek Basin

Day 2 – Sunday, June 26
Luna Peak

Day 3 – Monday, June 27
Access Creek Basin to Big Beaver Trail
Water taxi – Big Beaver Campground to Ross Dam Trailhead
Exit


Day 1

Water Taxi + Big Beaver Trail + Access Creek Basin

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Big Beaver Trail Approach

Other than the handful of down trees to bypass, Big Beaver Trail was in great shape. We took a much-needed lunch break at Luna Camp before moving on. Just past the camp, I spotted a junior bear wandering around the trail. It seemed unaware of our presence. But then it hurried into the bush after I started chanting and making noises with my poles.

Luna Camp
Luna Camp

See more trip photos here.

Fording Big Beaver Creek

More mosquitoes soon showed up after we left the trail. Then we fought our way through the brush toward Big Beaver Creek. We paced back and forth along the shore through devils club and giant skunk cabbage. All the while looking for the reported log jam to cross the creek. I wanted to conserve daylight, so we checked things out farther north. Eventually, we found a shallow spot to ford the water.

Once on the other side of the water, we began scrambling downstream. Then we made it to the ridge north of Access Creek. I stumbled upon a faint climbers trail in the lower elevation. But the massive down trees soon took over. So we followed the GPS track and successfully crossed Access Creek at 3900′. So glad we didn’t walk to the end of the path. That’s where all the nasty alder swatch was.

The usual type 2 approach
The usual type 2 approach

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Agonizing Approach to Access Creek Basin

Access Creek Basin came into full view as soon as we crossed the creek. From there, we finally got our first look at Luna Peak. The beautiful massif quietly towered above in the head of the valley. We scrambled the last mile in packed snow while following some cairns to camp.

A flat-top boulder right in the middle of the basin was our home for the next two nights. I set up camp, made dinner, and then we turned in shortly after.

Home for the next two nights
Home for the next two nights

See more trip photos here.

Day 2

Luna Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Approach to Luna Pass

Next morning, we ended up spending the bulk of our time climbing the steep gully up to the southeast ridge. Then from the there, we made a rising traverse across the expansive southwest basin onto Luna Pass. Soon, we spotted bears tracks leading from south of the pass, over and down the north side.

Following the southwest ridge to the false summit was straightforward; mostly class 2. But getting to the real summit from there was a different story.

Luna Peak false summit
Luna Peak false summit

See more trip photos here.

The Beautiful Picket Range

The pup stayed back as I spent some time getting down onto the south side. Once I got down onto the ledge, the rest of the traverse was straightforward, albeit exposed. Thanks in part to the few cairns that helped to keep things in check. When I got to the summit, the big boulders felt as if they’d fall over at any time. As a result, I built an anchor around one solid rock and clipped in; I took photos while straddling.

After spending an hour on top, I then carefully traversed back to the false summit and reunited with the pup. Undoubtedly, Luna Peak was sitting at a vantage point to see the rest of the Picket Range. Later, we spotted more bear tracks back on Luna pass. The tracks looked to be heading into the south basin. On the way back to camp, we made several more stops to soak in the views.

The Picket Range lineup
The Picket Range lineup

See more trip photos here.

Day 3

Access Creek Basin + Big Beaver Trail + Water Taxi

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

The Hasty Outro

On our last morning, getting out of Access Creek was just as painful as getting in. But we made better time getting back to Beaver Creek. I managed to find the log jam half a mile downstream from where we crossed the creek two days earlier. Back on Big Beaver Trail, we hiked as fast as we could back to Big Beaver Campground. Even so, we still arrived 10 minutes past the water taxi pickup time. But thank goodness, the driver and his grandson stuck around and waited for us.

The driver said that he wasn’t on a schedule today, so he just hung around. He was even gracious enough to let the pup cool off in the lake for a while. After the driver dropped us off at the dock, we still needed to hike one-mile back up to the trailhead. The hike sure was the icing on the cake at the end of a long climbing trip.

Luna's dreams
Luna’s dreams

See more trip photos here.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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