Napeequa Slam via High Pass / 經高山道上納比夸滿貫

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

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The Lowdown on Napeequa Slam

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

Access: Trinity Trailhead 
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 2800′-8073′
Gear: helmet, ice axe, crampons
GPS Track: available

The Drive to Trinity

Pup and I hiked the Buck Creek Trail four years ago on the way to climbing Buck Mountain. I had originally added an extra day to the trip with the intent of climbing more peaks in the area. However, due to a recent turn of events, I had a hard time focusing on climbing. So we ended up climbing just Napeequa Slam and then headed out on day two.

The drive on Chiwawa River Road felt rougher than usual from the end of pavement to Trinity. Forest service had repaired a couple of recent road washouts to provide public access to the campgrounds and trailheads beyond. Road conditions progressively worsened, but manageable in a low-clearance vehicle.

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 all seemed to have disappeared the minute we left the trailhead. Buck Creek Trail was mostly clear of debris except for a few places. There were groups of down trees to get through in the burned zone. We crossed Buck Creek around 4300′ on a log jam.

Using the same approach for Buck Mountain, we first attained Mount Cleator east ridge. Then we scrambled through the burned area in lower elevations. The fire happened after our last trip. As a result, the ridgeline now looked unrecognizable, yet more comfortable to navigate with the absence of brush.

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

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En Route to Napeequa Slam via High Pass

This time I was unable to locate the inconspicuous climbers’ trail into the southeast basin. So we continued on the open, albeit steep, east ridge to 7100′ before dropping into head of the drainage. Then with crampons, we traveled south-southwest onto the Berge-Cleator saddle and went inside High Pass basin.

From the saddle, breathtaking views to the south were nonstop. There was Mount Berge on the left, with Luahna Peak and Napeequa Peak front and center. After dropping 100′ into the basin, we began to contour Mount Cleator south ridge. Shortly after, High Pass came into view. Eventually, Clark Mountain showed itself as we made the traverse 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 good use of the remaining daylight by climbing Napeequa Peak. Then we’d save Mount Berge for the morning in colder temperatures. From camp, we headed southwest to the snow-free east ridge of Point 7529. We reencountered snow on the eastern slopes of Cirque Mountain to Napeequa Peak.

With two reports in hand, we first tried out the southeast ridge route. We crossed the ridge at 7600′ onto the steep south face. But then I quickly realized that blocky boulders and downsloping slabs were unsuitable for the pup. So we went back to the east slopes and followed the second report to a notch on the northeast ridge.

Summit ridge
Summit ridge

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Napeequa Peak Summit

As we traversed south on the exposed east face, I came across a few strategically placed cairns. It was a great indication that we were on the right track. The route took us past the summit before making its way to the south ridge. Moving north for a short distance and then we finally made it to the top.

Excellent views into the Napeequa River Valley, together with places we had visited together. Clark Mountain, Luahna Peak, Glacier Peak, Fortress Mountain were just a few among the many familiar high points. Four years had passed since we last set foot in the area. I was excited to come back for another visit.

Southwest panoramic view
Southwest panoramic view

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Back to High Pass

We retraced our route back to camp in the early evening light. Then we enjoyed more mountain views during dinner, including those of Napeequa Slam. Mosquitoes would’ve been of annoyance if it weren’t for the evening breeze keeping most of them at bay. I was able to get some beautiful star trail shots on this moonless night.

After breakfast, we descended south into the basin west of Mount Berge. At the south end of the snowfield at 7000′, we climbed up a steep snow finger. Then we came off the snow in another 100′ into a shallow moat. From there, we were then able to climb through rocks and steep heather slopes. We slowly worked our way toward the 7650′ saddle, just south of the Mount Berge main summit.

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

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Mount Berge Climb

There seemed to discrepancies as to which of the two summits was on the list. But I wanted to visit both high points just in case. Also, I read somewhere that the north summit may be higher than the main one. So from the saddle, we traversed northeast toward the north summit. Then we arrived on the south face shortly after.

At first, we went into the wrong gully and met cliffs below the east summit ridge. Then we tried the other one to the immediate left, and it worked. Slabs toward the top of the gully were more exposed. But with plenty of ledges and solid holds, we were able to get to the top without issues.

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

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Mount Berge Summits

Views were just as equally good as those on Napeequa Peak but with Buck Mountain in our face. We enjoyed an extended stay on top before heading back down. Then from Mount Berge’s east slopes at 7800′, we climbed up on steep snow. Once we were on the north ridge, a short ridge traverse south got us onto the main summit.

Since we spent much time on the other summit, we stayed only a few minutes on this one. A few photos and we started heading down to the south saddle. We didn’t descend the steep snow finger into High Pass Basin. But instead, at the bottom of the heather, we headed south into a steep gully. I wanted to try and bypass the buttress this way, and it worked.

Back to the other side
Back to the other side

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Outro

After getting around the buttress at 6800′, we can out onto the snowfield and reconnected with our old track. Afternoon heat had melted the basin snow quite a bit. So we stayed as far west as possible on the snowfield to avoid breaking through the ice.

Since we weren’t going to stay another day and climb, we took a long time getting ready to head out. The pup took a power nap back at camp while I took photos before breaking camp. Back on the Berge-Cleator saddle, we headed straight down into the basin. There I found the climbers’ trail I couldn’t locate the day before. It wasn’t as recognizable compared with the time before.

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