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

Kodak moment on Emerald Peak
Kodak moment on Emerald Peak

See more trip photos here.

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

The Lowdown on Chelan Slam

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: TBD
Elevation Range: 2600′-8590′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax
GPS Track: available

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

See more trip photos here.

Entiat River Road to North Fork Entiat Trailhead

Due to the wildfires in recent years, several road closures were in effect. As a result, the five-mile road walk to the trailhead was inevitable. But when we finally got to the trailhead, I immediately felt the enormous impact of the natural disaster.

Of the four destinations from this trip, only Saska Peak was visible from the trailhead. But to get there, we first needed to hike 10-12 miles to camp. As it turned out, all except Pinnacle Mountain were in the same basin.

Getting Back on Track

We spent morning hours getting through countless down trees. At one point, we even missed the trail down by the river. But eventually, in the early afternoon, we arrived at the North Fork Entiat River Basin. Soon after setting up the tent, pup and I headed up to Cardinal Peak. It was the closest one to our campsite.

There was still some snow on the north ridge to complicate things. As a result, we dropped down onto the steep east face and moved south under the summit. Then we finished the scramble via a notch on the south ridge.

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

See more trip photos here.

Day 2

Pinnacle Mountain + Saska Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Saska Pass to Pinnacle Mountain

Next morning, we started hiking early. I knew it was going to be a long day. I wanted to climb Pinnacle Mountain first since it’s farthest of the four peaks. So my plan was to get to the head of the Snow Brushy Creek Basin. It’s the adjacent drainage to the west. Then on the way back, we would climb Saska Peak.

Snow Brushy Creek Basin was truly a sad sight. The toothpick-like trees had gone through wildfires two years in a row. It was a surreal and emotional experience to witness it in a person. I could only imagine the vibrant basin before the devastation. Views on the summit were excellent. So many tallest peaks of Washington around us.

En Route to Saska Peak

Back on the other side of Saska Pass, we left the trail and started heading up on the south slopes. Then we aimed for the visible notch above the broad gully filled with lots of choss. Then hanging snow on the north side of the southwest ridge was melting out fast.

We carefully scrambled up the ridge, occasionally moved to the west side to avoid steep drop-offs on the east. Looking back at Pinnacle Mountain from the summit, hard to believe we just went all the way there and back. I contemplated staying until sunset for photos, but decided to head back to camp and turn in early. It was another night of starry sky for star trail photography.

How far is the journey from here to a star?
How far is the journey from here to a star?

See more trip photos here.

Day 3

Emerald Peak + Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

En Route to Emerald Peak

Our final morning in the basin, we tackled our last object–Emerald Peak. Clouds had moved into the area before sunrise. Then they floated from one summit to the next while obstructing views. Cooler morning temperatures compared with the past two days.

The route going up Emerald was first straightforward. But then the terrain flattened out with several gullies overhead. We looked for the gully with steep snow. But it wasn’t visible until we went around a buttress. From there, the route became more obvious with cairns leading the way.

A Beautiful Summit Without Views

The snow finger was too steep for my taste. So pup and I worked our way through the moat on climbers’ left. Eventually, we made it above the ramp and followed many cairns to the top. Views up here were incredible since we couldn’t see a thing!

I put up the banner I made for our final trip on the big wall behind us. Then I placed a couple of American flags on the ground to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. Half an hour later, cloud in the lower elevation began to disappear. Then Saska eventually graced us with her presence. Too bad we never saw Cardinal Peak.

Panoramic view on Emerald Peak
Panoramic view on Emerald Peak
Back to Camp Plus Outro

On the way down, we scrambled down the slabs on climbers’ right instead of going through the moat again. Interestingly, they were hard to access from below but easier to get to from above. After getting back to camp, we quickly packed, I took more photos of the peaks climbed, and then headed out.

The five-mile, downhill road walk was excruciating. It also didn’t help that I had jabbed my big toes several times during the trip. Half of the time, I would walk sideways in an effort to alleviate the pain. Thank god the car was still intact when we got back to our starting point.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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