Fisher Slam via Easy Pass / 經安逸山道上費雪滿貫

Holly smoke lit’rally! Highway 20 was a ghost town on my drive to climbing the Fisher Slam via Easy Pass Trailhead. Compared with the last year, this time, there was much more wildfire smoke. Empty trailheads along the way suggested people abandoning their weekend plans altogether.

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

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Fisher Slam 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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Hiking up 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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Dropping into Fisher Creek Basin

Without making many stops, I hiked down to the Fisher Camp Trail from Easy Pass. Then I followed an unmarked trail and went upstream in the valley. The path eventually dwindled in half a mile. From there, I then crossed Fisher Creek over to the south side. The scrambling began here.

Following a faint trail and the occasional cairns, I was able to bypass the big rocks. At one point, the path crossed the creek below the waterfall to the north side. But I didn’t know this until I came out the next day. So I stayed on the south side. But it worked out just as well.

Scree ramp to Silent Lakes
Scree ramp to Silent Lakes

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Getting up to Silent Lakes

In the upper basin, I saw the gully to avoid right away. But right next to it was the access scree ramp. Above the loose terrain were cairns to help bypass the outcrops. The terrain flattened just before I got up to the Upper Silent Lake at 6975′. But to my dismay, the silhouette of Fisher Peak was my only view.

Soon, I set up the tent and took a break. Then another climber showed up at the lake shortly. We nodded at each other, and then he continued on to Mount Arriva. What were the odds of two people meeting by an obscure lake in the Cascades?! Soon, I set off for Mount Arriva via the south lakeshore.

Upper Silent Lake
Upper Silent Lake

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Mount Arriva of Fisher Slam

I moved southwest and stayed roughly at the same elevation. Then I rounded the south-trending ridge by a flat area at 7000′. From there, I then made a rising traverse in and out of several gullies. Though soon, the cliffs on another south-trending ridge stopped me in my tracks at 7520′.

But as luck would have it, I found a class 3 steep ravine and went down to 7400′. From there, I then made another rising traverse right below the east peak. I was able to avoid most scree by staying high. Then I stayed close to the wall and reached the bottom of a rocky gully afterward. Another 100′ climb would 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

I followed the cairns and went up the south ridge. Soon, I came up to the 8080′ notch just east of the summit. Then I traveled west on a rock ramp below then cliffs and got right back on the south ridge. Though somehow, I had missed the one hidden cairn. So instead, I went around the summit block onto the west face.

A ramp went around the cliffs on the west face. But I couldn’t find a good place to go up the rocks. Then after careful route finding, I found a path to go up on the west ridge. Then the route 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 Without Views

With solid holds, I climbed the final 150′ on steep boulders. Soon afterward, I made it up to the summit. Then I heard noises coming from the south side of the scree sliding. That’s when I knew I had just missed the other climber.

Sadly, there were no views on top. On top of this, the amount of smoke had grown since I left the lake. So I had to enhance my 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

Later I descended lower in the basin to bypass gullies and the two major south-trending ridges. I plunge stepped through scree followed by two small snowfields to 7000′. Then I traveled east while staying at around 6800′ to 7000′. Hello again, Silent Lake!

With lots of daylight left, I contemplated climbing Fisher as well. But heavy smoke had darkened the sky so drastically that the approach looked somewhat intimidating. So with slight trepidation, I decided to kill time by hanging out at camp while taking photos.

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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Fisher Peak of Fisher Slam

Oddly enough, smoke never subsided overnight like on the other trips. I woke up during the night to the sounds of deer scouting out the camp and the smell of smoke. I poked my head outside, anticipating a night sky full of stars. But Instead, visibility limited to just a few feet. So I stashed the camera and went right back to sleep.

I left camp early in the morning under a shroud of yellowish smoke. From the reports I read, the climb on Fisher Peak was straightforward. I just needed to get through several knobs plus a 20′ high, exposed class 4 crux.

Class 4 crux
Class 4 crux

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Fisher Peak Northwest Ridge

I climbed over all of the knobs, including one that I bypassed from the south. Eventually, I was standing before the class 4 crux at 7720′. This section turned out to be better than anticipated. Good holds and somewhat exposed while I looked down at the head of the Fisher Creek Basin.

Beyond the crux, I got right back to the same enjoyable class 2/3 traverse as earlier down on the ridge. There was a short section of the exposed ridge traverse. Soon, I reached the Fisher Peak summit marked by a short cairn.

Summit view
Summit view

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Fisher Peak Summit Without Views

Just like on Mount Arriva, there was nothing to see here either. Since I still had to pack up and hike back out to Easy Pass, I didn’t spend much time here. I reversed my route and got back to camp in less than half of the ascent time. After packing up, I took a short break and then set off for Fisher Creek.

Back in the basin, I followed a faint trail through the heather to the north side of the creek. Then it became clear to me that the lower section crossed over to the north side just below the waterfall. The trail finally dwindled past the heather slopes before I got onto a talus field.

Descending into Fisher Creek Basin
Descending into Fisher Creek Basin

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Back to Easy Pass

Afterward, I crossed the creek back to the south side below the waterfall. Then I picked up a faint trail and hiked down the valley in a blanket of smoke. By now Fisher Peak had long gone out of sight, the only high point visible was Arches Peak looming overhead.

Back at 5040′, I crossed the creek and then picked up the faint trail to Fisher Camp Trail junction. From here, I needed to regain the lost elevation by ascending 1400′ back to Easy Pass.

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

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Kitling Peak of Fisher Slam

Back on the pass, I stashed most of the gear and started scrambling north toward Ragged Ridge. On the way, I met two climbers on their way back from climbing Mesahchie Peak. At 7100′ I began the tedious and long westbound traverse on steep scree slopes toward Kitling Peak’s south basin.

I stayed close to the base of the cliffs for a more straightforward traverse. I rounded the ridge west of Honeymoon Hump at 7300′. Then I headed north into the basin directly below Kitling Peak’s summit. I arbitrarily picked one of the several gully options at 7400′ and ascended northeast to finish the last 600′.

First sighting of Kitling Peak
Kitling Peak of Fisher Slam

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Kitling Peak Summit Plus Minimal Views

Of all four summits visited on this trip, Kitling Peak was the least technical. Though not much to see on top, views felt a little better than on Arriva Peak and Fisher Peak. Only fully visible peaks were Mesahchie Peak, Cub Peak, and Honeymoon Hump. After a short stay, I descended back into the south basin and repeated the tedious traverse to Easy Pass

Without any water source on the pass, I retrieved my gear and headed for Graybeard Peak. I left the trail at 6500′ and traversed southeast on steep heather and talus slopes. Maintaining the same elevation, I bypassed cliff bands before gradually gaining 200′ up into the basin just after dark.

Cub, Mesahchie, Kimtah
Cub, Mesahchie, Kimtah

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Getting to Graybeard Peak of Fisher Slam

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

Class 4 crux
Class 4 crux

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Graybeard Peak Summit Plus Minimal Views

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

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Back to West Basin

Zigzagging Easy Pass Trail
Zigzagging Easy Pass Trail

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Leaving Fisher Slam

One last look
One last look

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Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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