Napeequa Peak + Mount Berge by Buck Mountain via High Pass / 納比夸峯

  • Reading time:7 mins read

Napeequa Peak and Mount Berge by Buck Mountain overlook Napeequa River’s headwaters. The peaks aren’t always noticeable as they nestle among Washington State’s highest peaks. High Pass is just one of the several route options to reach the two high points.

Napeequa Peak in her full glory
Napeequa Peak in her full glory

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Napeequa Peak and Mount Berge at a Glance

Napeequa Slam = Napeequa Peak + Mount Berge
納比夸滿貫=納比夸峯+貝奇山

Access: Trinity Trailhead 
Round Trip: 23.3 miles
Elevation Range: 2800′-8073′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

The Preface

The pup and I spent last week in Pasayten Wilderness. Then this weekend, we went tackling the Napeequa Peak and Mount Berge in Glacier Peak Wilderness. The last time we were on Buck Creek Trail was four years ago.

The drive from the end of the pavement to Trinity felt rougher than usual. The Forest Service had fixed the washouts to provide access to the campgrounds and trailheads. But road conditions slowly worsened, but manageable in a compact car.

Raging Chiwawa River with damaged bridge
Raging Chiwawa River with damaged bridge

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Buck Creek Trail to Mount Cleator East Ridge

Mosquitoes at Trinity were relentless. But they all disappeared the minute we left the trailhead. Buck Creek Trail was mostly clear of tree debris except for a few places. In the burned zone were groups of down trees to get through. Later, we crossed Buck Creek at 4300′ on a log jam.

Using the same approach for Buck Mountain, we first went up to Mount Cleator east ridge. Then we scrambled through the burned area in lower elevations. The fire happened after our last trip. So the ridgeline now looked unrecognizable. But it was much more comfortable to travel with the absence of the brush.

The scenic route via Mount Cleator east ridge
The scenic route via Mount Cleator east ridge

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High Pass

This time I was unable to locate the hidden path into the southeast basin. So we continued on the open and steep east ridge up to 7100′. From there, we then moved into the head of the drainage. Soon, I put on crampons on the steep snow. Afterward, we moved south-southwest and went onto the Berge-Cleator saddle. Then from there, we went inside the High Pass basin.

Breathtaking views to the south were constant. There was Mount Berge on the left, with Luahna Peak and Napeequa Peak straight ahead. After losing 100′ in the basin, we contoured Mount Cleator south ridge. High Pass came into view soon afterward. Then Clark Mountain showed itself as we went toward the Pass. Our camp above the frozen Triad Lake had excellent views.

Triad Lake from camp
Triad Lake from camp

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Napeequa Peak Climb

I wanted to make use of the daylight by climbing Napeequa Peak today. Then we would climb Mount Berge when it’s cooler the following morning. So from camp, we went southwest to Point 7529’s east ridge.

To my surprise, the ridgeline was snow-free. So we sidestepped on rocks for a short while. But we were back on snow on Cirque Mountain’s east slopes.

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Route-Finding on Southeast Ridge

With two reports in hand, we first tried out the southeast ridge route. So we crossed the ridgeline at 7600′ onto the steep south side. Quickly, I realized that the giant boulders and downward slabs were unsuitable for the pup.

Later we backtracked to the east slopes. Then we used the second report’s descriptions and went up to a notch on the northeast ridge. Soon, things began to look more hopeful.

Summit ridge
Summit ridge

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Final Stretch on Napeequa Peak

Soon, we moved south on the east face with exposure. Then I started seeing some carefully placed cairns. They were a sign that we were on track at last!

Before long, the cairns took us through the steep ground below the summit. Shortly, we were making our way up to the south ridge. From there, we went north for a short way and reached the top.

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Napeequa Peak Summit Views

Views into the Napeequa River Valley and the places we had visited were excellent. Clark Mountain, Luahna Peak, Glacier Peak, Fortress Mountain were a few notable high points.

It’s been four years since we last set foot in the area. So glad that the bucket list had given us the chance to return to the area. But it was exciting, to say the least.

Southwest panoramic view
Southwest panoramic view

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Napeequa Peak Back to High Pass

We retraced our steps back to camp in the early evening. Then we enjoyed more mountain views at dinnertime, including our two goals. The evening breeze has kept most mosquitoes at bay.

I expected to see people make High Pass their stopover. But to my surprise, no one came through here during our trip. It was a moonless night, and so I got some decent shots of star trails.

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En Route to Mount Berge

After breakfast, we went south into Mount Berge’s west basin. Then at the southern end of the snowfield at 7000′, we climbed up a steep snow finger. Then we left the snow 100′ up and went into a shallow moat.

From there, we climbed through rocks and steep heather slopes. Then we worked our way up to the 7650′ saddle. We were now directly south of Mount Berge’s main peak.

Mount Berge North from the saddle
Mount Berge North from the saddle

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The Two Mount Berge Summits

There seemed to be discrepancies as to which of the two high points were on the list. But I had read somewhere that the north summit was higher than the main high point.

But to clear the confusion for ourselves, the pup and I visited both. So from the saddle, we traveled northeast toward the north summit. Soon, we were on the south face.

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Final Stretch on Mount Berge

At first, we went into the wrong gully. So the cliffs below the east ridge stopped us at our tracks. Then we went back down and moved into the one to the left. And it worked for the pup!

The slanted slabs at the top of the gully had a fair amount of exposure. But thank goodness for all the ledges and solid holds. In turn, the pup was able to climb to the top without issues.

Glacier Peak with Napeequa and Cirque
Glacier Peak with Napeequa and Cirque

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Mount Berge Summit Views

Views were just as great as they were on Napeequa Peak. The only difference was that Buck Mountain was now in our face. We enjoyed an extended visit on top before going down.

Later from the east slopes at 7800′, we went up to the north ridge via steep snow. From there, we then moved south a short way and reached the main peak.

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Mount Berge Back to High Pass

We had spent much time on the other summit. So we were only on this one for a few minutes before leaving. After taking a few photos, we then went down to the south saddle.

On the way to High Pass Basin, I didn’t want to go down the steep snow ramp we used earlier. So at the bottom of the heather, we moved south into a steep gully. My goal was to bypass the buttress, and it worked!

Back to the other side
Back to the other side

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Exiting

We went around the buttress at 6800′. Then we reached the snowfield and joined with our up tracks. The afternoon heat had long melted the snow in the basin. So we stayed west to avoid breaking through the ice.

We took a long break back at camp as the pup napped while I took photos. Back on Berge-Cleator saddle, we beelined into the basin. Then I found the trail I couldn’t find the day before. It even looked more hidden than the last time.

See more trip photos here.

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