2017/7/15-16 – Prince Slam + Spirit Mountain / 王子滿貫+精神山

Beefhide Butte
Beefhide Butte from Seance Peak

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Prince Slam = Beefhide Butte + Seance Peak

Compared with its west fork counterpart, East Fork Buttermilk Trail (#420) felt much like a walk in the park. With just a handful of down trees to easily negotiate and a minor creek crossing two miles in at 5,240′, the trail virtually went up to Hoodoo Pass with no major issues. First encounter with packed goats when we met a family of four breaking camp by the creek. Summer heat together with swarms of relentless mosquitoes were the only concerns.

Limited views in the last mile of forested hike until near the pass, where views began to open up with glimpses of this weekend’s destinations. A melting snowfield below north side of the pass was easy to negotiate via talus. We took a break in the shade and enjoyed views on both sides of the pass before descending into Hoodoo Basin.

Hoodoo Pass
Hoodoo Pass

Photos from this trip can be found here.

After descending 300′, we left the trail and traversed westward while aiming for the 7,700′ saddle south of Point 8010. From the saddle, we moved northwestward while maintaining an elevation of 7,800′, to the broad 7,850′ saddle southeast of Beefhide Butte. Meanwhile, one of last weekend’s objectives, Finney Peak, was looming in the west. Another 150′ ascent through thick shrubs put us on the summit.

Looking into the broad east gully, it seemed possible to scramble west right off the East Fork Buttermilk Trail. The dramatic curvature of Sawtooth Ridge went on for miles and miles to both north and south. Star Peak stole the show with its striking eastern profile erected behind our camping destination–Bernice Lake; Dry Lake lay silently in the south basin all the while.

Starlet behind Bernice Lake
Starlet behind Bernice Lake

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Getting into Prince Creek Basin from the summit required descending southwest ridge to 7,600′, then west rib down to the 6,800′ saddle. Halfway down we picked up a hikers trail and followed it into the basin. Once the trail dwindled, a short scramble through the meadow and we picked up the main trail before reaching the meadow at 6,600′.

After a 500′ ascent from the meadow, we arrived at an empty Bernice Lake. Afternoon wind began to blow into the lake basin as we settled into camp by the lake with good tree coverage. I pondered the thought of a sunset hike up to Starlet, but scratched the idea after seeing a napping pup by the fire pit. A perfect moonless night for star trail photos.

Prince Basin sky
Prince Creek Basin sky

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Next morning we packed up and started walking just past 7. Up until now I had been toying with the idea of including Spirit Mountain on this trip, but I wanted to see how we’d feel after Seance Peak. We got onto northwest slopes at 7,600′ a short time after leaving camp. From there a rising traverse of 300′ on talus and heather put us below west of the summit. A short scramble through large boulders and we were on the broad and elongated summit of Seance Peak.

Views from summit were similar to those on Beefhide Butte from the day before. Star Peak and Finney Peak remained to be the main attractions to the west, while Spirit Slam solemnly held down the eastern fort. Spirit Mountain sat quietly to the north as we enjoyed breakfast on the summit. Feeling super pumped after refueling, we took advantage of the cooler morning weather and headed for Spirit Mountain. Pup didn’t seem to mind the extra workout.

Spirit Mountain
Next stop, Spirit Mountain

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Accessing connecting ridge to Spirit Mountain required descending Seance Peak on east talus slope to 7,800′ and traversing talus-filled north basin to 7,500′ before the ridge. Point 7135 was easier to traverse over than around, since both sides were steeper than shown on map. Ridge line became increasingly woodsy once we got past the saddle north of the point.

Ridge crest wasn’t conducive to traversing due to thick growth and boulders, we stayed mostly east of the crest. Once we broke out of the thick growth below the summit block, a short, open scramble got us to the top with beautiful granite rocks. Everything looked distant from here as we traveled farther north away from the familiar high points. We’d been out of the tree line for some time now and it’d gotten pretty warm. Although wind helped fight off some heat as we savored wide-open views all around.

Wish Slam with Buttermilk Ridge
Wish Slam plus Buttermilk Ridge

Photos from this trip can be found here.

The steep east face provided direct access back down to the valley floor, as well as shaving off a good chunk of distance. Along the way we negotiated a couple of cliff bands from the south. Eventually we came out onto a talus field above a wetland before reconnecting with the East Fork Buttermilk Trail at 5,400′. Three miles of trail hiking and we were back at the car in the early afternoon.

Access: East Fork Buttermilk Trail
Gear: helmet

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