Photos from this trip can be found here.
Instead of a redo on Mount Daniel this season, pup and I visited Lynch Peak and Dip Top Peak on the north side of the mountain. After reading a couple of reports on Dip Top Gap, I decided to go cros-country to avoid crowds on the Deception Pass Trail.
Not as many people on the Cathedral Trail heading to Cathedral Rock or Peggys Pond as I had expected. We ran into a couple of section J hikers at the PCT junction and I chatted with them for a bit. We hikd past Peggys Pond and then headed uphill toward the 7,000′ notch on Daniel’s east ridge.
From the notch, we dropped down to 6,400′ and bypassed the buttress before us and more or less stayed at the same elevation until we got to the east end of Pea Soup Lake. Mountaintops were in clouds, and I never got a good look at either one of our destinations on the approach.
South route on Lynch Peak could clearly be seen as soon as clouds started to break up. Some nice slab scrambling on southeast face, then switched over go heather and then scree. Hard to discern the high point on this broad and relatively flat summit.
The view of Daniel had been incredible all along, but seeing it from this summit even was more dramatic. What a ginormous mountain.! Jade Lake Basin was shrouded in clouds so I never got a good look. We hung out by the cairn for a while 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 snow cave at the bottom. It looked to be the only feasible way to get off the ramp.
We negotiated the snow cave from the nose to the other side and then boulder hopped our merry way up to the gap. We set up camp at one of the two nice bivy spots and ate dinner.
An hour before sunset, as I was looking at maps of the area, temperature inversions moved in and all of a sudden we could see almost everything above the cloud level. Quickly I grabbed my summit pack, then pup and I dashed up the east ridge of Dip Top Peak.
Hoping we would be able to make it to the summit before sunset, we quickly attained the ridge crest after getting past the sleep slabs and blocky steps. Just below the summit was the high-exposure crux mentioned in reports.
Eventually we made it to the summit 15 minutes before sunset, enough time to soak in the views we had been missing out for the past few hours. Summit was narrow with steep drop-offs on all sides, but large enough to seat a party of three or four comfortably.
Mount Daniel and Mount Hinman were so close, and even with an ultra wide lens I still couldn’t fit both in the frame. After sunset we slowly made our way down, there was still more than enough daylight to get back to camp before dark. Another beautiful night staring up at the starry sky.
Next morning pup and I hung out at camp for a good while, I chatted with a few backpackers who came up from the benign glacier to check out Pea Soup Lake. Later we hiked out via the lower lakes through Deception Pass and made a loop out of the trip.