2018/6/17-18 – Horsemans Pack + Environs / 騎士包+周圍地區

Horsemans Pack
Horsemans Pack

Photos from this trip can be found here.

For Snowfield Peak and Neve Peak trip, check out this post.

Environs = Pyramid Peak + Paul Bunyans Stump + Colonial Peak
周圍地區=金字塔峯+保羅班揚的樹樁+殖民峯

First backpacking trip of the season!

Ever since my trip to Snowfield Peak three years ago, I had been itching to come back for some of the other peaks in the area. That time I spent the first day waiting out bad weather so it didn’t leave much time to explore. Saturday weather forecast had turned from mostly sunny to 40-50% chance precipitation by the time Friday came around. So in fear of history repeating itself, I postponed my trip by a day to avoid potentially foul weather.

When I picked up my camping permit in Marblemount, I was informed that the Colonial Zone was full for Saturday night, yikes. But that meant the climbers would be heading out as I went in on Sunday, purrrfect! After spending the night in the car, next morning I pulled up to the trailhead with a dozen cars already parked in the lot, busy weekend.

Campers
Campers

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Hike to Pyramid Lake was uneventful, but this time there were views through trees. Just as I remembered, the grueling part of this climb started past the lake when climbers trail took a steep rising toward the northeast-trending ridge extending down from Pyramid Peak. Many places required pulling onto tree roots to make the vertical steps. Terrain gradually tapered off at 4,200′, with a few small ponds, snow patches, and the first full view of Colonial Peak.

Route finding was made interesting with snow in the forest. Climber boot tracks were hard to follow as various groups took different paths while route finding. Depending on the amount of snow, parts of the trail were at times somewhat visible. The goal was to follow the ridge line until reaching the east cliff wall of Pyramid Peak. A few parties pitched tents at the 5,400′ lower camp, while a couple of groups pressed on to the Colonial Glacier Basin.

Climber descending in glacier basin
Climber descending in glacier basin

Photos from this trip can be found here.

In talking to some of the climbers on the way to the glacier basin, several parties got held back by the storm from the night before and started their Snowfield Peak climb later than expected. One of the mountaineers groups called it at the glacier basin so the group could get back to the car at a reasonable hour. Really glad to have postponed my trip to take advantage of good weather to explore the area.

Last mountaineers group returned from Snowfield Peak just as I approached the bivvy site at Neve col. After setting up camp, I made my way toward The Three Stooges, as I’d like to call them–Paul Bunyans Stump, Pinnacle Peak, and Pyramid Peak. Since I probably had just enough time left in the day to climb two of the three, I left out Pinnacle Peak due to insufficient beta and to avoid consuming any more of the remaining daylight to route find.

Expansive Neve Glacier
Expansive Neve Glacier

Photos from this trip can be found here.

The route to Pyramid couldn’t have been any more straightforward. By staying high in the glacier basin, traversing north on a nice snow ramp east of Paul Bunyans Stump and Pinnacle Peak provided direct access to the base of the peak. Boot tracks from the couple of climbers who had come up earlier in the day were great to have.

Just as on many other high points in the North Cascades on a good day, the views were incredible and expansive! High clouds allowed me to virtually see all the familiar places, as well as places I had yet to visit. Pyramid Peak was the only vantage point to get a good panoramic photo of rest of the Snowfield group. Next up, Paul Bunyans Stump.

South ridge
South ridge

Photos from this trip can be found here.

I first took notice of the Snowfield group when pups and I visited Sourdough Mountain back in 2011. Being new to mountaineering, I was in complete awe, and I simply could not wrap my head around the immense beauty of this place, and how people were able to climb any of these gnarly yet aesthetic peaks. I felt so grateful yet incredibly small standing among these peaks I’ve been admiring ever since.

From Pyramid Peak, I reversed my route on the snow ramp and headed south toward Paul Bunyans Stump’s south saddle. From the saddle, the route became apparent until about 7,200′ at the head wall. Then I was forced to move to climbers left and locate the southwest gully to finish the last 300′ of the climb. Gully was nearly clear of snow with good sandy paths and ledges to follow to the top.

The other two stooges
The other two stooges

Photos from this trip can be found here.

The narrow, elongated, and uneven summit probably wouldn’t provide comfortable seating for a group of three or more. Again, spectacular views, even better under the early evening light. I had planned on watching sunset from the top, but I decided to get off the summit before then to get past the gully before dark. Maintaining the elevation of the south saddle, I made a rising traverse of 200′ southeastward and got back to Neve col before dark.

Perpetual overnight wind made it hard to get out of the tent for night photos. I slept in and left camp at 7 AM, but luckily I was still in the shade until after dropping down onto Neve Glacier. Moments later, the sun finally made its way around the backside of Colonial Peak on this bluebird day. Lots of boot tracks from yesterday’s groups, and bear tracks that intersected as mentioned by one of the climbers I spoke to. The bear looked to have made its way down east of the glacier.

Busy weekend
Busy weekend

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Fewer crevasses to negotiate this time. I followed climbers tracks until 7,200′, then split and headed southwestward toward Horsemans Pack’s west saddle at 8,000′. I immediately noticed the scree ramp on the north side of the peak and followed it to the east side then around to the access gully on the south. Basically from the west saddle, I traveled clockwise around the peak to its south side to locate the access gully. Only 150′ of steep and steppy scramble and then I was on top.

Airy summit to say the least, and without any protection I opted to straddle the summit rock by the cairn. Great views into the Eldorado group on the icecap as well as Big and Little Devil Peaks. Views were boundless no matter which high point I stood on, just at a slightly different perspective. Profile of The Horseman on the other side of the saddle looked extremely narrow and pointy. Snowfield Peak was just within arm’s reach.

Snowfield Peak
Snowfield Peak

Photos from this trip can be found here.

I was back at Neve col within an hour, and I took a much-needed nap before heading down to Colonial Glacier Basin for my fourth and last objective. Snow conditions were still good, not too slushy despite full-on sunshine. I travelled southeast toward eastern edge of the glacier and located the access gully at 7,200′ to attain west ridge. Bear tracks on the snow looked to have come from Neve Glacier via the Neve-Colonial Col. It probably made the first summit on Colonial Peak today!

A long traverse at 7,600′ through a steep snowfield on the northwest face got me to the notch (with a large cairn) providing access to the southwest face. From there, it was another 200′ or so on a mixture of boulders and scree to reach the summit, located on the east end of the summit ridge. Boy, was I exhausted and moved ever so slowly for the final scramble.

Snowfield traverse
Snowfield traverse

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Views were still gorgeous of course, perhaps the best out of the entire Snowfield lineup! Also an excellent vantage point to see more of Neve Glacier unobstructed and rest of the Snowfield peaks. Closer view of the Thunder Arm and portions of Ross Lake down below, to think I was just standing at the Diablo Lake Vista Point two days before checking out the weather conditions up here!

One step closer to one of my favorite scrambles Ruby Mountain across the valley. I especially loved views to the southeast of Neve Creek feeding into the Thunder Creek drainage, and Gabriel Peak with a lineup of familiar high points positioned perfectly right behind. I made my way down after a long stay and proceeded to hike out to Pyramid Peak’s northeast ridge.

Neve Glacier
Neve Glacier

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Back at the 5,400′ camp I visited with climbers Robin and Megan, who made a late arrival while I was on Colonial Peak. Through talking I found out that they were both involved with livingsnowproject.com. I volunteered to sign up and get pink snow samples on my subsequent trips this season if any. They also mentioned a helicopter rescue mission that took place the night before. One of the mountaineers had broken an ankle on the way down the mountain and needed to be airlifted. Keeping good thoughts…

An extra day to hang out here would’ve been nice to have! Too beautiful of a place to leave behind for the chaotic city life.

Access: Pyramid Lake Trailhead
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice axe

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