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 this weekend’s 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: 24.7 miles
Elevation Range: 3720′-8215′
Gear: helmet

GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

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 Diablo Lake Vista Point. Compared with last year, we had much more wildfire smoke this time.

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 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 beyond half a mile radius.

Fisher Creek Valley downstream
Fisher Creek Valley downstream

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Fisher Creek Basin

I walked down to Fisher Camp Trail from the pass without many photo stops. Then I went upstream on an unmarked trail, which faded half a mile later. Soon, I crossed Fisher Creek to the south side and began scrambling.

I bypassed the giant boulders using a faint trail and the occasional cairns. But 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.

Soon, a climber came up to the lake as I set up camp by the water. A brief exchange and he continued to Mount Arriva. But what were the odds of two people meeting by an obscure lake on a smokey day?! I left shortly via the south shore.

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 gully took me down to 7400′. Then I made a rising traverse below the east peak to avoid most scree by hugging the wall. Soon, at the bottom of a rocky gully, I went onto the 7800′ after climbing 100′.

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

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Mount Arriva South Ridge

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

I couldn’t find a decent spot to go up the rocks from the west. But after some careful scouting, I found a way up the west ridge. In turn, it put me farther north with 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. Suddenly, I heard noises coming from the south side of the scree sliding. So it sounded like I had just missed the other climber.

The smoke had increased since I left the lake, and it was tough to tell what I was photographing. So I had to enhance the photos later to see the otherwise invisible landscape. Alas, some other time for the views!

South view
South view

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Back to Upper Silent Lake

I dropped lower back in the south basin to bypass several gullies and the two prominent south ribs. Then I plunge-stepped down the scree plus two small snowfields to 7000′. Soon, I went east and stayed between 6800′ and 7000′.

The plenty of daylight had me consider climbing Fisher today. But heavy smoke had darkened the sky so drastically that the route looked grim. So with trepidation, I killed time by hanging out at camp instead.

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 the knobs except for one I bypassed from the south. Then I was at 7720′ before the crux, which was better than expected. But the great exposure above 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 Views

There was nothing to see like on Mount Arriva, so I didn’t linger long. Besides, I needed to return to Easy Pass and quickly made my way back to camp. I packed and took a quick break before going down to 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

I went back south of the creek below the waterfall. Then I picked up another faint trail and hiked down the valley shrouded in smoke. Fisher Peak was long out of sight, and the looming Arches Peak 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 fork. From here, I needed to regain the 1400′ post by walking back up to Easy Pass.

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

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Kitling Peak South Route

After stashing most of the gear back on the pass, I went north toward Ragged Ridge. Soon, I met two climbers en route as they returned from Mesahchie Peak. Later at 7100′, I traversed the long, steep scree to Kitling Peak’s south basin.

I hugged the cliff for a direct traverse and soon rounded the ridge west of Honeymoon Hump at 7300′. Then I went right below Kitling Peak’s summit at 7400′. I randomly picked one gully and climbed northeast to finish the final 600′.

Kitling Peak on Ragged Ridge
Kitling Peak on Ragged Ridge

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Kitling Peak Summit Views

Kitling Peak was the least challenging of all four peaks on this trip. Views were slightly better than Arriva Peak and Fisher Peak, but not much. 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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Graybeard Peak West Gully

The class 4 crux
The class 4 crux

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Graybeard Peak Summit 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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