Horsemans Pack + Environs / 騎士包+周圍地區

I had wanted to come back and climb other peaks since my first visit. Back then, I spent the first day waiting out miserable weather. So I didn’t get to explore much else. It was surprising to see more snow here three years later. Horsemans Pack was my main goal this time.

Horsemans Pack in full view
Horsemans Pack in full view

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

Horsemans Pack and Environs at a Glance

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

Access: Pyramid Lake Trailhead 
Round Trip: 21.6 miles
Elevation Range: 1120′-8152′
Gear: 
helmet, crampons, ice ax
GSP Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Horsemans Pack Preparation

First backpacking trip of the season! Saturday forecast went from mostly sunny to 50% chance of rain. So, in fear of history repeating itself, I postponed my trip by a day. That way, I could avoid bad weather. I stopped by the Marblemount ranger station for my permit. Then the ranger mentioned that the Colonial Zone was full on Saturday night.

But that worked out in my favor. It meant that most, if not all, climbers would come out as I went in on Sunday. Perfect! I slept in the car Saturday night. Then I awoke to glorious sunshine the next morning. Yaaaaas! Afterward, I pulled up to the trailhead. There were a dozen cars in the parking lot. A busy weekend, indeed!

Campers
Campers

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Pyramid Lake to Northeast Ridge

The hike up to Pyramid Lake was uneventful. It was just like three years ago. But this time, there views through trees. As I remembered, the grueling climb started right after passing the lake. From there, the climbers’ trail took a steep rise. Then it slowly worked its way up toward the northeast-trending ridge. It extended down from Pyramid Peak.

Many places required me to hold onto tree roots and tree branches. So I could get up vertical steps. Slowly, the terrain flattened at the meadow above 4200′. There were a few small ponds with snow patches. From there, I got my first full view of Colonial Peak.

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Northeast Ridge to Colonial Glacier

With snow patches along the way, route finding in the forest wasn’t as straightforward. Boot tracks were now hard to follow. It was evident that groups took different paths and paved their way. Groups of down trees would sometimes obscure the trail.

My goal was to continue on the ridgeline. Then I would come up to the east headwall of Pyramid Peak. I saw a few parties staying at the 5400′ camp. But a few more continued up to the Colonial Glacier Basin. Views were surely better up that way.

Climber descending in the glacier basin
Climber descending in the glacier basin

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Colonial Glacier to Neve Col

On the way to Colonial Glacier Basin, I chatted with some climbers coming down on the slope. Then I found out that some parties had a late start climbing Snowfield Peak. It was because of the storm from the night before. One Mountaineers group turned around in the basin. So they could get back to the trailhead at a decent hour.

But I was happy to have postponed my trip. The decision allowed me to make use of the excellent weather. In turn, I would be able to explore more of the area.

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Neve Col Camp

The last Mountaineers group returned from Snowfield Peak when I made it up to Neve Col. Soon, I set up camp and then took a power nap. Then afterward, I made my way toward The Three Stooges–Paul Bunyans Stump, Pinnacle Peak, and Pyramid Peak.

With the amount of daylight left, I had just enough time to climb two out of the three. So I left out Pinnacle Peak. Not only could I not find enough information on the peak. But I also didn’t want to waste time to route find.

The expansive Neve Glacier
The expansive Neve Glacier

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Pyramid Peak Climb

The way to Pyramid Peak was more straightforward than I had expected. I traveled north while staying high up in the basin. Then I went a snow ramp east of Paul Bunyans Stump. The path provided direct access to the base of the Pyramid Peak. Then I followed the tracks of the two climbers I met down in the basin. They were up here earlier.

Like on other North Cascades high points on a good day, views were expansive! Glad the clouds remained up high. So I could virtually see everything around me. Jack Mountain, Crater Mountain, Ruby Mountain., Picket Range, Davis Peak, and Hozomeen Mountain. Pyramid Peak was the one place to get a panoramic view of other Snowfield summits. Next up, Paul Bunyans Stump.

South ridge
South ridge

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Paul Bunyans Stump Climb

My first time seeing the Snowfield group was when the pups and I climbed Sourdough Mountain in 2011. Being new to mountaineering, I was in complete awe. This boundless beauty of this place was out of this world. The fact that people would climb any of these peaks was beyond my understanding. I felt grateful. Yet I felt incredibly small to be standing among these peaks.

From Pyramid Peak, I went back down through the snow ramp. Then I moved south toward Paul Bunyans Stump. Once I went onto the south saddle, the route soon became apparent. But then the headwall at 7200′ stopped me at my tracks and forced me off to the left. Shortly, I located the southwest gully for the last 300′ of the climb. The west side was almost free of snow. So I followed the sandy paths up to the top.

The other two stooges
The other two stooges

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Paul Bunyans Stump Summit Plus Exit to Camp

The summit was narrow and uneven. So it wouldn’t provide much comfortable seating for more than two people. Again, the spectacular views were even better under the early evening light. I so much wanted to stay through sunset. But I realized that it was best to get out of the southeast gully before dark.

Soon, I was back on the south saddle. Then I made a rising traverse for 200′ while moving southeast. I arrived back at my campsite before dark.

The evening light
The evening light

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Neve Col Camp to Horsemans Pack

The constant overnight wind made it hard to get out of the tent at night. I wanted to photograph the night sky. So I went right back to sleep. I woke up at 6 AM the next day, and I started walking by 7. Glad when I went down to Neve Glacier, I was still in the shade. Then moments later, the sun made its way around the backside of Colonial Peak. It was another bluebird day ahead!

This weekend’s climbing groups had left lots of paths on the glacier. So I made use of them. But shortly, I spotted the bear tracks that one of the climbers head mentioned. The animal looked to have made its way east toward Colonial Peak.

In search of the Horsemans Pack
In search of the Horsemans Pack

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Horsemans Pack Climb

This time, I only needed to bypass fewer crevasses. But I was able to follow the existing trails until 7200′. Then I started traveling southwest toward Horsemans Pack’s north saddle at 8000′. From there, I saw the scree ramp and followed it to the east of the peak. All the rocks were very loose throughout this part.

Afterward, I went around to the east saddle. Everything was still unstable here. From there, I then moved clockwise to the south side of the peak. Soon, I located the access gully below the summit. With 150′ of a steep and uncompromising scramble and then I made it up to the top.

Horsemans Pack south gully
Horsemans Pack south gully

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Horsemans Pack Summit Plus Views

The summit was incredibly airy. Without protection, I opted to straddle the summit rock by the cairn. I also distributed most of my weight above a ledge just in case. Views to the Eldorado group, as well as the Big and Little Devil Peaks, were excellent.

Horsemans Pack offered a slightly different perspective than that of Snowfield Peak. It was just within an arm’s reach. The Horseman to the north looked very narrow and pointy.

Horsemans Pack looking over to Hozomeen Mountain
Horsemans Pack looking over to Hozomeen Mountain

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Back to Colonial Glacier Basin

I was back at Neve col in under an hour. Then I took a much-needed nap in the warm weather. Afterward, I headed back down to Colonial Glacier Basin to climb my final goal: Colonial Peak. Snow conditions were still decent. Glad it wasn’t too slushy despite the heat.

After shedding some gear weight, I began moving southeast toward the eastern edge of the glacier. Then at 7200′, I located the access gully. It allowed me to go up on the west ridge. Bear tracks here were the same ones I saw this morning down on Neve Glacier. The animal could very well have made its first ascent on Colonial Peak today!

Back to Colonial Basin
Back to Colonial Basin

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Colonial Peak Climb

At 7600′, I made a long traverse through the steep snowfield on the northwest face. It allowed me to go directly up to the notch. A large, strategically placed cairn indicated access to the other side. Then from there, it was another 200′ of a scramble through boulders and scree. The real high point of Colonial Peak was on the east end of the ridge.

By now, I was beginning to run out of steam. So the final stretch was a long slog.

Snowfield traverse
Snowfield traverse

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Colonial Peak Summit Plus Views

Views up here were just as gorgeous. It was the best of the entire Snowfield group! And an excellent vantage point to see more of Neve Glacier and Horsemans Pack. There I got a closer view of the Thunder Arm and portions of Ross Lake. It felt surreal to see the Diablo Lake Vista Point from here. I was just there two days ago checking out the terrain!

One of my memorable climbs, Ruby Mountain, was just across the valley. Views to the southeast of Neve Creek feeding into the Thunder Creek drainage were excellent. It was neat to see the lineup of high points positioned perfectly behind Gabriel Peak. After an extended stay, I then made my way down. Soon, I made my way back down to Colonial Glacier.

Neve Glacier
Neve Glacier

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Existing in Style

Down at the 5400′ camp, I met Robin and Megan. They came up while I was still on Colonial Peak. I found out that they were both a part of the livingsnowproject.com project through chat. So I volunteered to get pink snow samples on my trips later this season.

They also told me about a helicopter rescue mission from the night before. Unfortunately, one member from the Mountaineers group broke an ankle on the way down. So the rescue team had to airlift the climber out of the area. I kept good thoughts.

Thanks for another safe outing
Thanks for another safe outing

See more trip photos here.

Having an extra day to hang out here would have been super! This area was too beautiful of a place to leave behind. I wasn’t ready to go back to the city chaos.

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