2018/8/25 – Cutthroat Peak / 殺手峯

Summit block

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Access: Highway 20 at .5 mile west of Blue Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: 3.6 miles
Elevation Range: 5,000′-8,050′

Gear: helmet, rope

Every now and then it’s a real treat to do a climb like this one where I could see the entire approach just off the highway. Without looking through old GPS tracks, this could very well have been the shortest climb with the shortest approach.

Cloudy start in the meadow
Cloudy start in the meadow

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Logistically I would’ve liked to combine the peak with Corteo Peak over one weekend, as both peaks were within close proximity of each other and either could be done as a day trip. Instead the weather god had other plans for Sunday.

Alpine beauty
Alpine beauty

Photos from this trip can be found here.

A handful of cars parked off the highway pullout this morning. While I was shooting for the gully route, other parties would most likely be tackling the classic route on the south buttress. Climbers trail initially dropped down from the highway and crossed State Creek in the forest at 5,000′, then it gradually rose up in the open, luscious meadow.

Summit block
South face

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Just beyond the meadow, trail climbed steadily alongside north of the creek emanating from head of the basin, then it came to a moderate incline at 6,200′. Vegetation gradually thinned out at 6,500′ followed by talus and scree. At times sky appeared to be clearing up with sunlight seeping through.

In search of gully entrance
In search of gully entrance

Photos from this trip can be found here.

I continued travelling northwest toward the base of the west ridge and at the same time looking for the entrance to the first southwest gully. Supposedly it’s the least technical climbing route according to Beckey’s Guide and other online sources.

Entering the gully
Entering the gully

Photos from this trip can be found here.

With limited visibility ahead, at 7,400′ I entered the gully and began the steep climb. Route finding became tricky in several places, which involved some low 5th moves in getting through a few cruxes. I began to suspect that I might’ve in fact been in the more technical second southwest gully.

Top of gully
Top of gully

Photos from this trip can be found here.

After topping out on the west ridge at 7,800′, more clouds rolled in and obscured my view to the northwest ledge. The short, albeit narrow, ledge turned out to be better than anticipated once I started traversing toward the notch that provided access to the north ridge.

Northwest ledge
Northwest ledge

Photos from this trip can be found here.

I had packed rock shoes in anticipation of the final scramble, but they ended up staying in the pack. Cracks and solid holds along blocky summit boulders made the scramble enjoyable despite with limited visibility. A couple of cairns were spotted through this section.

Final scramble
Final scramble

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Still socked in, I spent the next 90 minutes hoping for clouds to dissipate to get some views, but that never happened. Voices were heard from top of the south buttress just as I was leaving the summit, at least one other party was on the peak today. It began to drizzle just then.

No views today
No views today

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Rain eventually came after I scrambled back down to the top of the steep gully. Rocks became slippery very quickly, so I rappelled instead of down climbing. First time rappelling in the rain was…interesting. With two 60-meter rappels, I safely got back down to just a few feet below the first crux, BIG whew!

Back in south basin
Back in south basin

Photos from this trip can be found here.

After picking up the climbers trail in the south basin, I quickly hiked back down to the highway in fear of rain turning into showers. Two climbers whose voices I heard from the summit appeared half hour later. One of them was a friend who lead my Chair Peak ice climb two winters ago, small world!

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