Horsemans Pack by Snowfield Peak via Pyramid Lake Trail / 騎士包

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Horsemans Pack by Snowfield Peak rises above the vast Neve Glacier. At the same time, it’s ranks #2 highest on the Snowfield Icecap. Moreover, Pyramid Lake Trail offers climbers the most direct way to the top.

Horsemans Pack in full display
Horsemans Pack in full display

See more trip photos here.

For Snowfield Peak and Neve Peak, 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

The Preface on Horsemans Pack

Happy first backpacking trip of the season! Since my first visit, I have wanted to return to climb other peaks. Back then, I spent the first day waiting out the dreary weather and didn’t get to explore anything else.

But here I was, at precisely three years later. It was surprising to see much more snow in the area. Besides Horsemans Pack, Pyramid Peak, Paul Bunyans Stump, and Colonial Peak were also on the trip’s agenda.

Pyramid Lake Trailhead
Pyramid Lake Trailhead

See more trip photos here.

The Grim Weather Forecast

Saturday’s mountain forecast went from mainly sunny to a 50% chance of rain. So, in fear of the past repeating itself, I postponed my trip to dodge the bad weather by a day. It’d also give me more time to prep.

I later stopped by the Marblemount ranger station for a permit. But judging by the long line, it’d be a busy weekend ahead. Then the ranger mentioned a packed Colonial Zone on Saturday night.

A walk in the park
A walk in the park

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Pyramid Lake Trailhead

I slept near the trailhead Saturday night to start early. But delaying my trip had worked out in my favor. It meant that most, if not all, climbers would be coming out as I went in on Sunday. Hello, yaaaaaas!

The following day, I awoke to glorious sunshine. More yaaaaaas! After organizing my pack, I drove a short way to Pyramid Lake Trailhead. There were a dozen or so cars in the lot, so a busy weekend it was!

Pyramid Lake below Pyramid Peak
Pyramid Lake below Pyramid Peak

See more trip photos here.

Hiking to Pyramid Lake

The hike to the tiny Pyramid Lake was uneventful. Everything was the same as three years ago but with views through the trees this time. As I had remembered, the grueling part started past the lake.

The somewhat defined climbers’ trail took a steep climb right away. Then it slowly weaved its way up to the northeast-facing ridge that extended down from Pyramid Peak. Views were scarce through the dense trees.

View to Davis Peak
View to Davis Peak

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Through Steep Terrain

I went through many places by grabbing onto exposed tree roots and krummholz. They certainly had made going up steep steps more manageable. There was a lot of grunting and cursing through this part.

Slowly, the terrain flattened below the 4200′ meadow. The few small ponds I remembered from last time still had snow on them. But the best part was the first full view of Colonial Peak from here!

Seeing Colonial Peak
Seeing Colonial Peak

See more trip photos here.

Pyramid Peak Northeast Ridge

With snow en route, route finding took some time. Different groups had taken different paths, so it wasn’t clear which boot tracks to follow. On top of that, many down trees were on the trail.

At last, I was on the ridge to Pyramid Peak’s east headwall. By now, views had improved a great deal. Some tents had taken up the 5400′ camp, and then I saw a few more up in Colonial Glacier Basin.

This way to Horsemans Pack
This way to Horsemans Pack

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Colonial Glacier to Neve Col

Em route to Colonial Glacier, I met climbers coming down the slope. They mentioned that a few groups had started late on Snowfield Peak because of the storm the night before. It was worse than the forecast.

Another team that had also started behind schedule was a Mountaineers group. They needed to return to the trailhead at a decent hour and turn around. Glad I have decided to postpone my trip.

Climber dropping into the glacier basin
Climber dropping into the glacier basin

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Neve Col Camp

I met the last Mountaineers group on Neve Col, where I set up camp and took a power nap. Then afterward, I made my way toward The Three Stooges–Paul Bunyans Stump, Pinnacle Peak, and Pyramid Peak.

The remaining daylight allowed me to climb two of the three peaks, leaving Pinnacle Peak. It’s also because I couldn’t find enough information before the trip. Plus, I didn’t want to waste more time on route finding.

Front-seat view of Spire Point from Neve Col camp
Front-seat view of Spire Point from Neve Col camp

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Pyramid Peak Climb

The way to Pyramid Peak was pretty straightforward. From camp, I went north while staying high on the field. Then a snow ramp east of Paul Bunyans Stump took me to the base of the peak.

I followed the tracks of the two climbers I had met earlier. Since they had just climbed the peak, a defined path was going toward the top. But as the day wore on, the boot tracks were becoming slushy.

One step closer to Pyramid Peak
One step closer to Pyramid Peak

See more trip photos here.

Pyramid Peak Summit Views

Like other North Cascades high points on a decent weather day, the views were immense! Clouds had stayed high so that I could see virtually everything around here. Even the distant peaks were visible.

Pyramid Peak was the place to see the rest of the Snowfield group in a lineup. I saw Jack Mountain, Crater Mountain, Ruby Mountain., Picket Range, Davis Peak, and Hozomeen Mountain. Next up was Paul Bunyans Stump.

The expansive Neve Glacier
The expansive Neve Glacier

See more trip photos here.

Paul Bunyans Stump Climb

I first saw the Snowfield group from Sourdough Mountain in 2011. Being new to mountaineering, I was in complete awe of the beauty of this place. The fact people would climb these peaks was beyond my understanding. But I felt grateful yet tiny to be among them.

I went back on the snow ramp to Paul Bunyans Stump’s south saddle, where the route soon became apparent. But the headwall at 7200′ had forced me off the west that was nearly free of snow. Then I located the southwest gully for the final 300′ of the climb over sandy paths.

Paul Bunyans Stump south ridge
Paul Bunyans Stump south ridge

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Paul Bunyans Stump Summit Views

The summit was narrow and uneven, only comfortable enough to seat one person. Again, the views were even more spectacular under the evening light. I wanted to stay through sunset, but it was best to exit the southeast gully before dark.

Soon, I was back on the south saddle and made a rising traverse southeast for 200′. Shortly, I reached my camp spot as the darkness fell. At night, the constant gusts kept me inside the tent.

The other two stooges
The other two stooges

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Neve Col to Horsemans Pack

I woke up at 6 AM and started walking by 7 when Neve Glacier was still in the shade. Before long, the sun had gone around the back of Colonial Peak, and it was another bluebird day ahead!

This weekend’s groups had left many tracks on the snow, and I used them. Shortly, I spotted the bear tracks that one climber I met had mentioned. It looked like the animal had made its way east to Colonial Peak.

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

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Horsemans Pack Climb

I only needed to bypass a few visible cracks and follow the defined trails to 7200′. Then I went southwest to Horsemans Pack’s north saddle at 8000′. I later located the scree ramp that took me to the east over many loose rocks.

From the east saddle, I moved to the peak’s south side. Before long, I was by the access gully below the summit. Soon, I was on the top after another 150′ of a steep and exposed scramble.

Horsemans Pack south gully
Horsemans Pack south gully

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Horsemans Pack Summit Views

The top was airy. But without protection, I straddled the summit rock by the cairn. I also put most of my weight above a solid ledge, just in case. Views to the Eldorado group, as well as the Big and Little Devil Peaks, were terrific.

Horsemans Pack offered slightly different views than Snowfield Peak across the ridgeline. The Horseman on the north side looked thin and pointy. From here, I also saw the three distinct summits of Hozomeen Mountain.

Horsemans Pack's view to Hozomeen Mountain
Horsemans Pack’s view to Hozomeen Mountain

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Leaving Horsemans Pack

In under an hour, I was back at Neve col and took a nap in the warm weather. Afterward, I went into Colonial Glacier Basin for my final goal: Colonial Peak. Glad the snow was still decent and not too slushy yet despite the heat.

After leaving some gear, I went up to the east edge of the glacier. Then I found the access gully at 7200′ onto the west ridge. Bear tracks I saw this morning on Neve Glacier were also here. So the animal could very well have been the first on Colonial Peak today!

Back to Colonial Basin
Back to Colonial Basin

See more trip photos here.

Colonial Peak Climb

At 7600′, I crossed the steep snow on the northwest to reach the notch. A large, strategically placed cairn had pointed to the other side. Then it was another 200′ of scrambling through boulders and scree.

I had run out of steam, and it took some time to finish the final bit. Meanwhile, the views en route continued to wow me. But the actual high point on the east end wasn’t visible from here.

Snowfield traverse below Colonial Peak
Snowfield traverse below Colonial Peak

See more trip photos here.

Colonial Peak Summit Plus Views

Seeing Diablo Lake Overlook was surreal since I was only there two days ago! It was hands down the best place to see the Snowfield group. It’s also a vantage point to view Neve Glacier and Horsemans Pack, plus Thunder Arm and Ross Lake below.

My memorable climb, Ruby Mountain, was across the valley as the stunning Neve Creek fed into Thunder Creek. It was neat to see the slew of high points behind Gabriel Peak. I later went back to Colonial Glacier after a long break.

Horsemans Pack above Neve Glacier
Horsemans Pack above Neve Glacier

See more trip photos here.

Leaving Horsemans Pack and Exit

Back at the 5400′ camp, I met Robin and Megan, who had come up while I was on Colonial Peak. Through chatting, I found out that they were a part of the livingsnowproject.com project. So I volunteered to gather pink snow samples.

They also told me about a helicopter rescue mission from the night before. A member from the Mountaineers group broke their ankle on the way down. So the recovery team had airlifted the climber out of the area.

Having an extra day to hang out here would’ve been super! But I was glad to have explored more this time. It was too beautiful of a place to leave behind and return to the city chaos.

Thanks for another safe outing
Thanks for another safe outing

See more trip photos here.

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