Beefhide Butte + Seance Peak + Spirit Mountain / 牛皮孤峯

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Beefhide Butte and Seance Peak perch on the vast Sawtooth Ridge above Prince Creek Basin. Meanwhile, they sit alongside many of Washington States Top 100 highest in Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.

Beefhide Butte from Seance Peak
Beefhide Butte from Seance Peak

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Beefhide Butte and Seance Peak at a Glance

Prince Slam = Beefhide Butte + Seance Peak
王子滿貫=牛皮孤峯+降神會峯

Access: East Fork Buttermilk Trailhead
Round Trip: 18.1 miles
Elevation Range: 4760′-8067′
Gear: helmet

GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

The Preface on Beefhide Butte and Seance Peak

In contrast to West Fork Buttermilk, the East Fork Buttermilk Trail was a walk in the park. Down trees were at a minimum, and only a handful to bypass. Best of all, we were in the shade on the way to Hoodoo Pass.

Our main goals for the trip were Beefhide Butte and Seance Peak. But given the short distance, I thought we would add Spirit Mountain to the mix. But only if we had time and felt up to it on the way out.

Walking the old roadbed
Walking the old roadbed

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East Fork Buttermilk Trail

My GPS was acting up right from the start, so I reset it several times. Then we met a family of four packing up after a night’s stay by the small stream at 5240′. It was pretty cool to see pack goats for the first time.

Apart from the swarms of ruthless mosquitoes, my main concern was the heat. Once we were out of the trees, the barren hills offered no cover from the blazing sun. We were also short on water at one point but not too bad.

A glimpse of day two's goal
A glimpse of day two’s goal

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En Route to Hoodoo Pass

Views were spotty through the trees in the last mile to Hoodoo Pass. But at least we were out of the heat in the shade. We saw the weekend’s goals from the pass and continued through the rocky trail after a break.

Later we bypassed a receding snowfield via the rocks. Then we took a break in the shade on the pass with views on both sides. Afterward, we walked down the trail and went into Hoodoo Basin.

Hoodoo Pass
Hoodoo Pass

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Beefhide Butte Climb

Shortly, we left the trail after dropping 300′. Then we went west and aimed for the 7700′ saddle south of Point 8010. From there, we moved northwest while keeping an elevation of 7800′.

Soon, we were on Beefhide Butte’s broad southeast saddle at 7850′. Meanwhile, I saw our last weekend’s goal, Finney Peak, looming in the west. Then it was a short walk over the dense shrubs to reach the top.

This way to Beefhide Butte
This way to Beefhide Butte

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Beefhide Butte Summit Views

I peeked into the broad east gully, and it even looked feasible to come up from the trail. Meanwhile, Sawtooth Ridge’s dramatic curvature went on as far as the eyes could see.

To the northwest, Star Peak stole the show with its stunning eastern face. Bernice Lake, our camp for the night, sat right below Starlet. Then in the south basin was the lone Dry Lake.

Starlet above Bernice Lake
Starlet above Bernice Lake

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Bernice Lake Camp

From the summit, we walked down the southwest ridge. Soon, we came upon a path before the 6800′ shoulder and followed it into the basin until it faded. Then we scrambled through the open terrain to the main trail and reached the meadow at 6600′.

We went straight up to the lake basin and soon reached Bernice Lake. As the wind blew into the lake basin, we set up our tent behind the trees by the outlet. I had thought about a sunset hike to Starlet but scratched the idea after seeing a napping pup. It was a moonless night.

Prince Basin sky
Prince Creek Basin sky

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Seance Peak Climb

The following day, we started walking past 7 AM. I had thought about including Spirit Mountain but wanted to see how we’d feel after Seance Peak. Soon, we had made it up to the northwest saddle at 7600′ shortly after leaving camp.

From there, we rose 300′ through talus and heather slopes below the ridgetop. Then we only needed to scramble up a short way through the talus. Soon, we were standing on Seance Peak’s elongated summit.

Seance Peak and Beefhide Butte
Seance Peak and Beefhide Butte

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Seance Peak Summit Views

Views were similar to Beefhide Butte, with Star Peak and Finney Peak stealing the show. Meanwhile, Spirit Slam held down the fort to the east, with Spirit Mountain on the north. Then we enjoyed breakfast at the top.

We both felt super pumped after refueling. So I decided to use the cool morning weather and go for Spirit Mountain. The pup didn’t mind the extra workout and continued to roll in snow patches as he spotted them.

Finney Peak and Surprise Lake
Finney Peak and Surprise Lake

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Final Stop, Spirit Mountain

To reach the joining saddle to Spirit Mountain, we dropped onto Seance Peak’s east talus slope to 7800′. Then we traversed the rocky north basin to 7500′. We climbed over Point 7135 since both sides were steeper than the map.

The ridgeline became woodsy beyond Point 7135. Soon, the crest was less conducive to traverse because of the dense shrubs and krummholz. Plus, the boulders strewing the ridgetop were the icing on the cake.

Final stop, Spirit Mountain
Final stop, Spirit Mountain

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Spirit Mountain Summit Plus Views

We mostly stayed east of the ridge and broke out of the forest right below the top. Soon, we were at the top after a short scramble over the open terrain. The granite rocks adorning this summit were super gorgeous.

We had been out of the treeline for a while, and it was pretty warm. But the wind helped fight off the heat as we savored the views. The notable high points, including Beefhide Butte and Seance Peak, now looked distant.

Wish Slam with Buttermilk Ridge
Wish Slam plus Buttermilk Ridge

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Outro

We exited the steep east slopes with direct access down to the valley floor. We bypassed two cliff bands from the south along the way and soon reached a talus field above the wetland. In turn, we shaved off a good chunk of distance.

We soon rejoined the East Fork Buttermilk Trail at 5400′ after some boulder hopping. After re-entering the forest, it was three miles of quiet walking in the shade. Soon, we were back at the trailhead in the early afternoon.

Outro
Outro

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