Prince Slam + Spirit Mountain / 王子滿貫+精神山

In contrast to West Fork Buttermilk, the East Fork Buttermilk Trail was a walk in the park. Not only the number of down trees were at a minimum. But we were mostly in the shade. Our main goals were Beefhide Butte and Seance Peak of the Prince Slam. Then we also added Spirit Mountain on the way out on day two.

Beefhide Butte from Seance Peak
Beefhide Butte from Seance Peak

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Prince Slam 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: TBD
Elevation Range: 4760′-8067′
Gear: helmet

GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

East Fork Buttermilk Trail

There were just a handful of down trees to bypass. Then a small stream crossing at 5240′ in mile 2. We met a family of four breaking camp by the creek. It was our first encounter with their pack goats. The real concerns on this trip were the heat, together with swarms of relentless mosquitoes.

We were in the forest the last mile up to Hoodoo Pass. So views were spotty. But just above the trees, we got glimpses of our weekend’s goals. A melting snowfield below the pass was easy to bypass via the talus. After going up to the pass, we took a break in the shade. So we could enjoy the views on both sides. Afterward, we walked down the trail into Hoodoo Basin.

Hoodoo Pass
Hoodoo Pass

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Beefhide Butte of Prince Slam

We left the trail after dropping 300′. Then we traveled 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 the broad saddle southeast of Beefhide Butte at 7850′. All the while, our last weekend’s goal, Finney Peak, quietly loomed in the west. The final 150′ to the top was going through dense shrubs. Then we reached the summit.

I glanced into the broad east gully. And it looked feasible to scramble up right from the trail. The dramatic curve of Sawtooth Ridge went on for miles. To the northwest, Star Peak stole the show with its stunning eastern profile. Bernice Lake, our camp for the night, sat directly below Starlet. Meanwhile, Dry Lake lay alone in the south basin.

Starlet behind Bernice Lake
Starlet behind Bernice Lake

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Bernice Lake Camp

Next, we needed to go into Prince Creek Basin. So from the summit, we walked down on the southwest ridge. Then we aimed for the 6800′ saddle on the west rib. But before we even got there, we came upon a trail. So we followed it down into the basin. Once the path dwindled, we continued to scramble through the open terrain. Then from there, we got back on the main trail to reach the meadow at 6600′.

From the meadow, we went straight up toward the lake basin. Afterward, we arrived at an empty Bernice Lake. The wind was blowing into the lake basin. So we set up our tent behind the trees by the outlet. Before the trip, I thought about a sunset hike up to Starlet. But then I scratched the idea after seeing a napping pup. It was a moonless night for star trail photography.

Prince Basin sky
Prince Creek Basin sky

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Seance Peak of Prince Slam

The next morning, we packed up and started walking just past 7 AM. Up until now, I had been toying with the idea of including Spirit Mountain. But I wanted to see how we would feel after going up to Seance Peak. Then we hiked up to the northwest slopes at 7600′ after leaving camp.

From there, we rose 300′ through talus and heather slopes. So that put us right below the top. Then we just needed to scramble up a short distance through boulders. Soon, we were on the broad and elongated summit of Seance Peak.

Seance Peak and Beefhide Butte
Seance Peak and Beefhide Butte

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Seance Peak Summit Plus Views

Views from up here were quite similar to Beefhide Butte. Star Peak and Finney Peak to the west continued to steal the show. Meanwhile, the Spirit Slam held down the fort to the east. Then there was Spirit Mountain to the north. We enjoyed a breakfast on the summit.

After refueling, we both felt super pumped. So we made use of the cool morning weather and went for Spirit Mountain. The pup didn’t seem to mind the extra workout.

Finney Peak and Surprise Lake
Finney Peak and Surprise Lake

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Final Stop, Spirit Mountain

Accessing the connecting saddle to Spirit Mountain required us to descend Seance Peak on east talus slope to 7800′. Then we traversed the talus-filled north basin to 7500′ before arriving at the ridge. We climbed over Point 7135 since both sides ended up being steeper than shown on the map.

The ridgeline became increasingly woodsy beyond the point. The crest wasn’t conducive to traversing due to dense growth with boulders dispersed everywhere.

Final stop, Spirit Mountain
Final stop, Spirit Mountain

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Spirit Mountain Summit Plus Views

So we stayed east of the ridge most of the time. Finally, we broke out of the forest just below the summit block. Then a short and open scramble got us to the summit adorned with beautiful granite rocks. All the familiar high points, including the Prince Slam, now looked far as we moved farther north.

Since we’d been out of the treeline for some time, it’d become quite warm. But the wind helped fight off the heat as we savored the abounding views.

Wish Slam with Buttermilk Ridge
Wish Slam plus Buttermilk Ridge

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Outro

Since the steep east slopes provided direct access down to the valley floor, we wanted to take advantage of it. By doing so, we also shaved off a good chunk of distance. Along the way, we bypassed two cliff bands from the south. Eventually, we got down onto a talus field above a wetland.

From there, we reconnected with the East Fork Buttermilk Trail at 5400′. Three miles of peaceful hiking and then we were back at the car in the early afternoon.

Outro
Outro

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