Chelan Slam in Entiat River Valley / 恩蒂亞特河谷的奇蘭滿貫

It has become our tradition to make a trip over the Fourth of July weekend. So this year, the pup and I spent three days climbing in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Chelan Slam was the last group of peaks on the Bulger List to tackle. It was a six-year-long pursuit.

Kodak moment on Emerald Peak
Kodak moment on Emerald Peak

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Chelan Slam at a Glance

Chelan Slam = Cardinal Peak + Pinnacle Mountain + Saska Peak + Emerald Peak
奇蘭滿貫=卡地納峯+巔峯山+薩斯喀峯+翡翠峯

Access:  North Fork Entiat Trailhead
Round Trip: 32 miles
Elevation Range: 2600′-8590′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

Logistics Overview

July 2-4, 2016

Overview> Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Saturday, July 2
Approach + Cardinal Peak
Night 1 – North Fork Entiat River Basin Camp

Day 2 – Sunday, July 3
Pinnacle Mountain + Saska Peak
Night 2 – North Fork Entiat River Basin Camp

Day 3 – Monday, July 4
Emerald Peak + Exit


Day 1

Approach + Cardinal Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Trail junction
Trail junction

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Entiat River Road to North Fork Entiat Trailhead

Road closures have been in effect because of the wildfires in recent years. So the five-mile road walk to the trailhead was inevitable. When we finally arrived at the trailhead, I felt the enormous impact of the natural disaster right away.

Of our four destinations on this trip, only Saska Peak was visible from the trailhead. But to get to the group of peaks, we first needed to hike 12 miles to get to camp. Then we would climb them from the same drainage. Though, all but Pinnacle Mountain were in the same basin.

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Chelan Slam via North Fork Entiat River Valley

We spent the morning hours getting through countless down trees. While busy bypassing the windfalls, we missed the trail going down by the river. But we rejoined the path later after some scrambling. We arrived at the North Fork Entiat River Basin in the early afternoon. Shortly afterward, the pup and I went up to Cardinal Peak from camp. It was the closest one to us.

There was still snow in the basin. So we were able to avoid scree on the way up. The north saddle was dry. But the snow on the north ridge kept us from going up directly. So we dropped down on the other side of the pass. Then we went south and crossed the steep east face under the summit. From there, we went up to the out notch and then finished the last bit of scramble to the top.

Unexpected snow on the east side
Unexpected snow on the east side

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Day 2

Pinnacle Mountain + Saska Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Pinnacle Mountain via Saska Pass

The next morning, we got an early start because I knew it would be a long day. I wanted to climb Pinnacle Mountain first since it’s the farthest one from us. So that meant we would need to go into the Snow Brushy Creek Basin, the next drainage to the west. Then we would go up Saska Peak on the way back.

Snow Brushy Creek Basin was a sad sight. The toothpick-like trees had gone under wildfires two years in a row. It felt so surreal, not to mention how emotional it was to witness in a person. So I could only imagine the vibrant vegetation before the devastation. The excellent views on the summit included many of the top 100 peaks.

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En Route to Saska Peak

It took us a while to get back to the other side of Saska Pass. Shortly, we left the trail and started walking up on the south slopes. Then we aimed for the visible notch above the broad gully with loads of choss. The hanging snow on the north side of the southwest ridge was melting out fast.

We carefully scrambled up the ridge. Occasionally, we would move over to the west side to avoid the steep drop-offs. We had a clear view back at Pinnacle Mountain from the summit. So hard to believe we had just gone over there and back. I considered staying or sunset photos. But then I decided to go back to camp early. It was another night of starry sky for star trail photography.

Star trails over Chelan Slam
Star trails over Chelan Slam

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Day 3

Emerald Peak + Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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Getting up to Emerald Peak

On our last morning in the basin, we grabbed our final peak–Emerald Peak. The clouds had moved into the area before sunrise. Then they drifted from one summit to the next, all the while blocking our views. It was colder this morning in contrast to the past two days.

The route to get up to Emerald Peak was straightforward at first. But once the terrain flattened, we then noticed several gullies above us. We needed to find the one with the steep snow. But it wasn’t visible until we went around a buttress. From there, the route then became more apparent. There were even cairns here to lead the way.

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Last Chelan Slam Peak Minus the Views

The snow finger was too steep for me to want to get on top. So the pup and I worked our way through the moat on climbers’ left. Eventually, we made it above the ramp. We then continued to follow more cairns to get up to the top. Views up here would have been incredible. But we couldn’t see a thing!

I set up the banner on the big wall behind us. I made it for our final trip. Then I placed a couple of American flags on the ground to celebrate the Fourth of July. Half an hour later, the clouds down below began to move away. Then Saska Peak graced us with her presence. Too bad we never saw Cardinal Peak from up here.

Panoramic view on Emerald Peak

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Back to Camp Plus Outro

On the way down, we scrambled down the slabs on our left. So we didn’t need to go through the moat again. Interestingly, the rocks were hard to access from below. But they were more accessible from above. After going back to camp, I quickly packed. Then I took more photos while the pup took a nap before we went out.

Once we went back to the trailhead, we only needed to walk the roadway to finish the trip. But the five-mile, downhill road walk was painful. It also didn’t help that I had jabbed my big toes several times while climbing. I hiked sideways half of the time to ease the pain. Glad the car was still intact when we got back to our starting point.

See more trip photos here.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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