All photos from this trip can be found here.
Rather than a redo on Mount Daniel this season, instead pup and I visited Lynch and Dip Top Peaks on the north side of the mountain. Read a couple of reports on Dip Top Gap and decided to go cross country to avoid crowds heading in from Deception Pass Trailhead.
There weren’t as many people on the Cathedral Trail to Cathedral Rock or Peggys Pond as I had expected. We ran into a couple of section J hikers at the PCT junction and chatted with them for a bit. Once getting past Peggys Pond, we proceeded to hike up to the 7,000′ notch on Daniel’s east ridge. From there we dropped down to 6,400′ to bypass the buttress and more or less stayed at the same elevation until we got to east end of Pea Soup Lake. Mountaintops were cloudy, so I never got a good look at either one of our destinations from the approach.
South route on Lynch Peak could be clearly seen as soon as clouds started to dissipate. There was some nice slab scramble on southeast face, then it turned into heather followed by scree. Hard to tell where the high point was on this summit since it was elongated and looked equally flat. The view of Daniel had been incredible all along, but seeing it from the summit was even more dramatic, it’s a ginormous mountain. Jade Lake Basin was cloudy so I never got a good look. We rested by the cairn and got enough photos before heading down toward Dip Top Gap.
As mentioned in the reports, there was not an easy way to get down to the gap from Lynch Peak. Pup and I scrambled along southwest ridge for a while before getting cliffed out. We poked around the ridge and found a steep scree ramp with a big gap underneath a snow finger at the bottom of the ramp, which looked to be the best way to exit out and get onto the talus. We negotiated nose of the snow finger to the other side and then boulder/talus hopped our way up to the gap. There we set up camp at one of the two nice bivy spots and ate dinner.
An hour before sunset, just as I was studying maps of the area, out of the blue, temperature inversions moved into the area and all of a sudden we could see almost everything above the cloud level. Quickly I grabbed my summit pack, pup and I dashed up east ridge of Dip Top Peak thinking we might just be able to make it to the top before sunset! We attained the ridge crest after getting up some sleep slabs and big steps. Just below the summit was the high-exposure crux mentioned in the reports.
Eventually we made it to the summit 15 minutes before sunset, just enough time to soak in the evening views we had been missing out on for a few hours. Summit was narrow with steep drop-offs on all sides, but it was big enough to seat a party of three or four comfortably. Daniel and Hinman both looked were so close that I couldn’t fit both inside the frame even with my wide angle lens. Just after sunset we slowly made our way down, and we had more than enough light to get back to camp well before dark. It was another beautiful night of starry sky.
Next morning pup and I hung out by the camp most of the morning, I chatted with a few backpackers walking up the benign glacier from lower lakes to check out Pea Soup Lake.
Later pup and I headed out via lower lakes through Deception Pass to make a loop out of the trip.