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

Luna Peak was a spur of the moment plan. But it ended up being the biggest highlight of the season. The pup and I slept by the trailhead Friday night. So we could catch the water taxi early in the morning. The other option would have been hiking to Big Beaver Campground. But that would have added 14 miles to the trip.

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

See more trip photos here.

Luna Peak at a Glance

Access: Ross Dam Trailhead
Round Trip: 43.6 miles
Elevation Range: 1600′-8311′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax
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

Hiking on Big Beaver Trail

Other than the handful of down trees to bypass, Big Beaver Trail was in excellent shape though unexciting. Along the way, we walked past many tall timbers. I stopped to marvel at their sheer size. Then we took a much-needed lunch break at Luna Camp before continuing.

Beyond the camp, I soon spotted a junior bear roaming 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 along the shore through lots of devils club and giant skunk cabbage. But there wasn’t a place shallow enough for me to cross the water.

Meanwhile, I looked very hard for the reported log jam. That would’ve been the perfect place to cross the creek. We needed to conserve daylight and get going soon. So we checked farther north. Eventually, we found a spot shallow enough to ford the water at the waist level. But it wasn’t an issue for the pup.

Agonizing Approach to Access Creek Basin

Once we got to the other side, we began scrambling downstream immediately. Afterward, we made it to the ridgeline north of Access Creek. Then I stumbled upon a faint climbers’ trail in the lower elevation. We were able to follow it for a while before the massive down trees took over.

We continued to follow the GPS track down to a tee. Then we crossed Access Creek at 3900′ successfully. So glad we didn’t continue to walk to the end of the path. That’s where we would’ve encountered the nasty alder swatch.

The usual type 2 approach
The usual type 2 approach

See more trip photos here.

Luna Peak Above Access 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

Getting up 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.

Luna Peak Summit Plus 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.

Leaving Luna Peak

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 Exit

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.

Back to Highway 20

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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