Ice Slam + Freezer / 冰點滿貫+冷凍庫

North Spectacle Butte from Ice Box
North Spectacle Butte from Ice Box

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The Lowdown on Ice Slam

Ice Slam = Chilly Peak + Ice Box + North Spectacle Butte
冰點滿貫=寒冷峯+冷藏庫+北奇觀孤峯

Access: Phelps Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3520-8112′
Gear: 
helmet

GPS Track: available

En Route to 6100′ Basin

Pup and I arrived at the Phelps Creek Trailhead late Friday night. Unsurprisingly, the lot was full of big trucks now that the hunting season had begun. Half a mile before the trailhead was a section of the road under a thick layer of sand. The condition made the path nearly impassable in the low-clearance vehicle.

Next morning, we hiked on the well-maintained Carne Mountain Trail. We were last here six years ago climbing Carne Mountain. I last visited the area three years ago to climb Mount Fernow and Cooper Peak. We made good time to the 6100′ basin.

Peaks abound
Peaks abound

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First View from the Pass

Meandering through the meadow, we passed a corral with three horses on full alert of our arrival. Shortly after, we reached the pass south of Carne Mountain and took a long break. I got a decent view of our first destination, Chilly Peak, across Rock Creek Basin.

Deer hunter Andy stopped on the pass on his way out. We chatted a while about his unsuccessful hunting trip. He then mentioned the lack of water in Rock Creek Basin where he had been hunting. He saw that I didn’t pack enough water back in the meadow. So he offered me the rest of the water from his gallon jug.

Choss heaven
Choss heaven

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En Route to Chilly Peak

Pup and I went down on the other side of the pass. Soon, we reached the dividing ridge between Box Creek and Rock Creek. From there, we traveled north and went into Rock Creek Basin at 7000′. Desperately in need of water, we dropped 200′ and found a tiny stream flowing out of the talus field. The water would be our last until we reached Box Creek Basin later in the day.

We got back up to 7000′ and continued sidestepping due east on steep heather and scree. Upon reaching the west gully at 7200′, a cumbersome rising traverse on scree eventually put us on the north saddle. A short section of boulder scramble later and we were on the summit.

Next up, Ice Box
Next up, Ice Box

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Leaving Chilly Peak Summit

From the summit, I scouted out our next destination, Ice Box, which still looked far away. To the north, Mount Maude and Spectacle Buttes were the main attractions. Meanwhile, the hazy Buck Mountain solemnly held up the western horizon. There was a register on this summit.

After a relaxing half-hour rest on top, we slowly scrambled back down the gully. Then we made another rising traverse northwest to the east saddle of Point 7919. We carefully bypassed the point from the north before getting down to the west saddle at 7500′.

A long way to to go still
A long way to go still

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En Route to Ice Box

While taking a break, I noticed a bear cub on the snowfield north of the saddle. It then began to move away slowly when alerted by pup’s bear bells. I grabbed the dog, and we quickly fled the scene before mama bear showed up.

To get around Point 7800, we first dropped 100′ on the south face. Then we rounded the southwest ridge and went up to the north saddle. Afterward, we traversed north while staying on or west of the crest. A section of rock bands and buttresses required us to bypass through chossy west slopes. We regained the ridge on Ice Box’s south saddle at 7600′. Then we made the last 500′ scramble to finish the climb.

Chilly Peak now in the upper left corner
Chilly Peak now in the upper left corner

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Ice Box Summit

The closer we got to the head of Ice Creek Basin, the better the scenery. The haze from the wildfire smoke on the east hadn’t completely blocked our views. The smoke here was much less of a concern than that of our recent outing to the Pasayten Wilderness.

We still had to make it to Upper Ice Lake before nightfall. So we only stayed a short while on the summit before moving again. We had a little over two hours before sunset. The connecting ridge to Freezer didn’t look to be conducive for traversing. So we went down the steep west slopes and then picked up a trail at 6900′ in Box Creek Basin.

West face descent
West face descent

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En Route to Upper Ice Lake

We meandered through Chipmunk Creek Basin for a while before leaving the trail at 6800′. From there, we moved north to the east of Point 7425. From the saddle, we maintained an average elevation of 7400′. Eventually, we went up to the west rib 250′ below Maude-Freezer Pass. There a steep climbers’ path took us up to the pass. The saddle was hands down the best vantage point to view the Ice Lakes Basin.

At first, the basin looked to be empty until we came across a tent. It was right before we crossed the outlet of Upper Ice Lake. We found our old camp spot from four years ago and set up camp there. Then we turned in shortly after dinner under the Milky Way. Glad the night temperates ended up being warmer than the forecast.

In the arms of Mount Maude
In the arms of Mount Maude

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Next Stop, North Spectacle Butte

I wanted to beat the 40% chance of rain and snow after 11 AM on Sunday. So we got up early to climb our last objective: North Spectacle Butte. After dropping 350′ down to Lower Ice Lake, we then crossed the lake by its outlet. From there, we scrambled to the east-trending gully at the northeast end of the basin. The route provided direct access to the west saddle. From there, we headed up on the steep, talus-filled west slopes and finished the last 600′ of the climb.

The summit was flat and broad, just as it looked from the top of nearby peaks. The view of South Spectacle Butte southeast of the connecting saddle was impressive. Buckskin Mountain, north of Entiat River Valley, looked much farther away than on the maps. The complete lineup of Maude, Seven Fingered Jack, Fernow, and Copper west of here was beyond words. The wind had been blowing nonstop since before we arrived at the top.

Northwest view
Northwest view

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Final Destination: Freezer

On the way back to camp, we tried out the trail on the north shore of Lower Ice Lake. It turned out to be a much better option than the steep east slabs. Then we left the basin at 11 AM right after packing up. Glad the forecast of precipitation never materialized.

Back on the Maude-Freezer Pass, we went up to our final destination of this trip–Freezer. Freezer summit offered another great perspective into the Ice Lake Basin. It was merely a 400′ elevation gain away from the pass. Views were just as great as any other high points in the area. Chilly Peak and Ice Box to the south, and North Spectacle Butte clear across the basin. Many of the Washington highest peaks farther east were also visible.

Mount Maude and Upper Ice Lake
Mount Maude and Upper Ice Lake

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Outro

Back on the pass, we grabbed our gear and hiked out via Leroy Basin. I wanted to make a loop hike out of the trip. Shortly before getting back down to Phelps Creek Trail, we ran into two campers followed by two hunters. I briefly chatted with them about their adventures.

It began to rain past 3 PM before we got back down to the trail. And we quickly hiked the remaining four miles back to the car.

En route to Phelps Creek Trail
En route to Phelps Creek Trail

See more trip photos here.

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