A last-minute plan to climb Luna Peak turned out to be the biggest highlight of this season. Pup and I slept by the trailhead to catch the early water taxi to Big Beaver Campground next morning. Hiking to and back from the campground alone would have added 14 additional miles to the trip.
See more trip photos here.
The Lowdown on Luna Peak
Access: Ross Dam Trailhead
Round Trip: 45 miles
Elevation Range: 1600′-8311′
Gear: Helmet, crampons, ice
Download GPS track
Other than the handful of down trees we needed to negotiate, Big Beaver Trail was in great shape. We took a much-needed lunch break at Luna Camp before moving on. Just past camp, I spotted a junior bear wandering around the trail who seemed oblivious of our existence. But it quickly disappeared into the bush when I started chanting and making noises with my trekking poles.
Once we left the trail, more mosquitoes appeared as we bushwhacked toward Big Beaver Creek. We paced back and forth along the shore and fought through devils club mixed with giant skunk cabbage, hoping to find the reported log jam to cross the creek. Not wanting to burn any more daylight, we forded the creek at a shallow spot farther north.
On the other side of the river, we began scrambling downstream to the ridge north of Access Creek. I stumbled upon a climbers path on the lower ridge, but the massive down trees and brush quickly took over. We followed the track of a trip report and successfully crossed Access Creek at 3900’ right before reaching the alder swatch on the north side.
Access Creek Basin came into full view immediately after we crossed the creek, with Luna Peak towering above the upper basin. We hiked the last mile to the head of the basin by following cairns. A giant boulder with a flat top was our home for the next two nights. I set up camp, made dinner, and we turned in shortly after.
Next morning the bulk of our time was getting up the steep gully onto Luna Peak southeast ridge. From there we made a rising traverse across the expansive southwest basin onto Luna Pass. 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 true summit from the false summit was another story.
The pup stayed behind while I spent time figuring out the best way to get down onto the ledge on the south side. Once I got down, the rest of the traverse was straightforward, albeit super exposed. Few cairns along the way helped to keep things in check. Everything on the summit felt loose. I clipped myself into an anchor I built around one bomber rock and took photos while straddling.
After spending a good hour on top, I carefully made my way back to the false summit and reunited with the pup. Luna Peak was at a vantage point to get amazing photos of the northern Picket Range. Back on Luna Pass, we spotted more fresh bear tracks heading down toward Luna Peak south basin. We made more stops along the way to soak in the views and slowly made our way back to camp.
Next morning, getting out of Access Creek was just as painful as getting in. Though we made better time getting back to Beaver Creek. I managed to locate 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. We arrived 10 minutes past the water taxi pickup time, but thank god for the driver who, together with his grandson, turned the taxi around.
The driver said he wasn’t in any hurry to get back to the resort, and he was nice to let the pup cool off in the lake. The one-mile, uphill hike from the lakeshore back to the trailhead was icing on the cake at the end of a long trip.