Fisher Peak 8040 + Mount Arriva + Kitling Peak + Graybeard Peak / 費雪峯

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Holly smoke, lit’rally! Fisher Peak towers above Fisher Creek Basin. The striking high point is just north of the notable Black Peak. Mount Arriva, Kitling Peak, and Graybeard Peak were also part of the itinerary.

Fisher Peak looming above Fisher Creek Basin
Fisher Peak looming above Fisher Creek Basin

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Fisher Peak + Environs at a Glance

Fisher Slam = Mount Arriva + Fisher Peak + Kitling Peak + Graybeard Peak
費雪滿貫=愛瑞發山+費雪峯+吉特菱峯+白鬍峯

Access: Easy Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: 25 miles
Elevation Range: 3720′-8215′
Gear: helmet

GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Logistics Overview

August 18-20, 2018

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Saturday, August 18
Approach to Silent Lakes + Mount Arriva
Night 1 – Upper Silent Lake

Day 2 – Sunday, August 19
Fisher Peak + Kitling Peak
Night 2 – Graybeard Peak west basin

Day 3 – Monday, August 20
Graybeard Peak + Exit


Day 1

Approach to Silent Lakes + Mount Arriva

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

When the sun looked like the moon
When the sun looked like the moon

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Fisher Peak + Environs

Fisher Peak and environs brought me out to the ghostly North Cascades Highway. During this, I made a nap stop at the Diablo Lake Vista Point. Compared with last year, this time, we had much more wildfire smoke.

I passed not one car between Newhalem and Easy Pass Trailhead. Along the way, empty lots by the campgrounds seemed to suggest people abandoning their weekend plans altogether.

Fisher Creek Valley upstream
Fisher Creek Valley upstream

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Highway 20 to Easy Pass

The hike up to Easy Pass was eerily quiet. Plus, it was smoke-heavy on an otherwise sunny day. But the amount of smoke on this trip was comparable to our last Labor Day’s trip in the Pasayten Wilderness.

In contrast to the Ragged Ridge climb, the air quality was as different as night and day. Back then, views were at every turn. But today, I was lucky to see anything at all beyond half a mile radius.

Fisher Creek Valley downstream
Fisher Creek Valley downstream

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Fisher Creek Basin

Without too many stops, I hiked down to the Fisher Camp Trail from the pass. Then I went upstream on an unmarked trail. The path later faded in half a mile. Then I crossed Fisher Creek over to the south side, where the scrambling began.

Using a faint trail and the occasional cairns, I was able to bypass the big rocks. At one point, I missed the path as it crossed the creek to the north below the waterfall. So I continued on the south side. And it worked out just as well.

Scree ramp to Silent Lakes
Scree ramp to Silent Lakes

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Silent Lakes Basin

Higher up in the basin, I saw the gully to avoid. Then to its east was the access scree ramp. And above the loose terrain were cairns to help bypass the outcrops. Later the terrain flattened just before I reached the Upper Silent Lake at 6975′. Though, to my dismay, Fisher Peak’s silhouette was my only view today.

I set up camp by the water. Later another climber showed up at the lake. A brief exchange and he continued to Mount Arriva. What were the odds of two people meeting by an obscure lake in the smoke?! Soon, I set off to Mount Arriva myself via the south lakeshore.

Upper Silent Lake
Upper Silent Lake

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Climbing Mount Arriva

I moved southwest and stayed roughly at the same elevation. Then at 7000′, I rounded the south-trending rib by a flat area. I then made a rising traverse while weaving through several gullies. Though soon, the cliffs on the rib ahead at 7520′ stopped me in my tracks.

But as luck would have it, a class 3 steep ravine took me down to 7400′. Then I made another rising traverse below the east peak. So I avoided most scree by staying high close to the wall. Later I reached the bottom of a rocky gully. Another 100′ climb then put me up on the 7800′ notch.

7,800' notch above south basin
7800′ notch above south basin

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Mount Arriva South Ridge

Cairns led me up the south ridge. Soon, I was on the 8080′ notch east of the summit. Then a rock ramp below the cliffs took me west to be back the south ridge. But I had somehow missed the one hidden cairn. So, in turn, I missed the summit and ended up on the west side.

A ramp went around the cliffs on the west face. Though, I couldn’t find a place to go up the rocks. But after some careful route finding, I found a way to go on the west ridge. Then it put me farther north with the view of Arches Peak before me.

Aiming for yet another notch
Aiming for yet another notch

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Mount Arriva Summit with Zero Views

With solid holds, I climbed the final 150′ on steep boulders. Soon, I made it up to the smoky summit. All of a sudden, I heard noises coming from the south side of the scree sliding. So it sounded like I had just missed the other climber.

Thr amount of smoke has increased since I left the lake. So later I had to enhance the photos to see anything. Otherwise, everything looked invisible to the eyes. Alas, some other time for the views!

South view
South view

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Back to Upper Silent Lake

Back in the south basin, I dropped lower to bypass gullies and the two prominent south-trending ribs. Then I plunge stepped through the scree and two small snowfields to 7000′. Soon, I was moving east and staying between 6800′ and 7000′. Hello again, Silent Lake!

The plenty of daylight had me contemplate climbing Fisher also. But heavy smoke had darkened the sky so drastically that the route looked intimidating. So with slight trepidation, I ended up killing time by hanging out at camp.

Back to Upper Silent Lake
Back to Upper Silent Lake

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Day 2

Fisher Peak + Kitling Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

En route to Fisher Peak
Fisher Peak of Fisher Slam

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Climbing Fisher Peak

Unlike most other trips, the smoke in the area never subsided. I awoke in the night to the sounds of some deer scoping around the tent. So I poked my head outside, hoping for a starry sky. But by then, visibility was only a few feet. So I dove right back to sleep.

The following day, I left early in the morning under the shroud of yellowish smoke. Judging by the descriptions, the route on Fisher Peak was pretty direct. But not before I first went through several ridge bumps. Later came the reported 20′ high, exposed class 4-5 crux.

Class 4 crux
Class 4 crux

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Fisher Peak Northwest Ridge

I went over all of the knobs except for one, which I bypassed from the south. Soon, I was at 7720′ standing before the crux. But it turned out better than expected. But the great exposure above the top of Fisher Creek Basin was not for the faint of heart!

Beyond the crux, I went right back to the same enjoyable class 2-3 traverse as before. But there was also a short stretch of low-exposure crossing below the top. Soon, I reached Fisher Peak summit adorned with a short cairn.

Summit view
Summit view

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Fisher Peak Summit with Zero Views

Just like Mount Arriva, there was nothing to see here. So I didn’t spend too much time up here. Besides, I still had to pack up and go back to Easy Pass. Soon, I was back at camp in less than half of the ascent time. After packing up and a short break, I set off for Fisher Creek.

Later in the basin, a faint trail took me through the heather to the north side of the creek. Then it became clear to me that the path crossed over to the north below the waterfall. The trail finally dwindled past the heather slopes before a talus field.

Descending into Fisher Creek Basin
Descending into Fisher Creek Basin

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Fisher Creek to Easy Pass

Later I went back to the south side of the creek below the waterfall. Then I picked up another faint trail and hiked down the valley in a blanket of smoke. Though, by now, Fisher Peak was long out of sight. Arches Peak looming overhead was the only thing visible.

Back at 5040′, I crossed the creek one last time. Then I picked up the faint trail to Fisher Camp Trail crossing. From here, I just had to regain the lost elevation by climbing 1400′ back to Easy Pass.

Arches Peak under the afternoon sun
Arches Peak under the afternoon sun

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Kitling Peak South Route

Back on the pass, I stashed most of the gear. Then I left the trail and started going north toward Ragged Ridge. On the way, I met two climbers as they came back from climbing Mesahchie Peak. Finally, at 7100′, I began the tedious, long traverse through steep scree slopes aiming for Kitling Peak’s south basin.

I stayed close to the cliffs, so it’s a more direct traverse. I rounded the ridge at 7300′ west of Honeymoon Hump. Then I went north into the basin directly below Kitling Peak’s summit. At 7400′, I randomly picked one of the several gully options. Then I climbed northeast to finish the final 600′.

Kitling Peak on Ragged Ridge
Kitling Peak on Ragged Ridge

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Kitling Peak Summit with Minimal Views

Of all four peaks visited on this trip, Kitling Peak was the least technical. Though, not much to see on top, views were slightly better than on Arriva Peak and Fisher Peak. The only visible peaks were Mesahchie Peak, Cub Peak, and Honeymoon Hump. Later I dropped back into the basin and reversed the tedious traverse to Easy Pass

There was no water on Easy Pass. So I picked up my gear and continued to Graybeard Peak. Then at 6500′, I left the path and moved southeast on more steep heather and talus slopes. Keeping the same altitude, I bypassed cliff bands along the way. Later I climbed up 200′ into the basin right after dark.

Cub Peak, Mesahchie Peak, and Kimtah Peak
Cub Peak, Mesahchie Peak, and Kimtah Peak

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Graybeard Peak West Basin

En route to Graybeard west basin camp
En route to Graybeard west basin camp

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Day 3

Graybeard Peak + Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Graybeard Peak of Fisher Slam
Graybeard Peak of Fisher Slam

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Climbing Graybeard Peak West Gully

The class 4 crux
The class 4 crux

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Graybeard Peak Summit with Minimal Views

From Fisher to Arriva to Kitling
From Fisher to Arriva to Kitling

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Back to West Basin

The zigzagging Easy Pass Trail
The zigzagging Easy Pass Trail

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Leaving Fisher Peak and Environs

One last look
One last look

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Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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