2018/9/8 – Corteo Peak / 寇特歐峯

Come out and play
Come out and play

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Slowly working backward to catch up on rest of the summer trips as things began to wind down. Corteo Peak hadn’t always been on the radar despite having taken notice from various mountaintops over the years. Being in the shadow of a classic and a more prominent neighbor like Black Peak, it’s hard not to get overlooked.

Being easily accessible via Highway 20 and doable in a day, I had planned on climbing something else nearby the next day to make the long drive worthwhile. Unfortunately weather didn’t cooperate, so we settled for just one. Before the trip I had misread the map and mistaken the peak for being on the national forest boundary, so pup ended up tagging along.

Horsefly Pass (left) and Maple Pass
Horsefly Pass (left) and Maple Pass

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Eight years since I last set foot on this trail. The 3-mile hike to Maple Pass byway of Heather Pass went by fast as I scoped out the serene Lake Ann from various angles. From Maple Pass, I got my first look at Corteo Peak capped in clouds as we descended into Maple Creek Basin toward Horsefly Pass. I had doubts on getting any views on top today.

Just shy of the pass at 6,400′, we made a rising traverse southwestward across the large talus field below the east face, and attained southeast ridge at 6,600′ via a scree ramp between cliff bands. We soon found ourselves in clouds with minimal visibility after ascending 750′ on the steep ridge. At 7,350′, we traversed north on downsloping slabs onto the east face directly below the summit ridge notch.

North ridge from notch
North ridge from notch

Photos from this trip can be found here.

For the next 600′ steep climb to the notch at 7,920′, we moved westward upslope using lots of solid ledges and ramps. Terrain comprised the typical Cascades elements–dirt and gravel-covered downsloping slabs and loose rock, sprinkled with end-of-the-season alpine flowers and heather. Loose rocks and choss were quickly replaced by giant boulders when we arrived at the notch.

Of the two reports found, one group went directly up the north ridge while the other bypassed the ridge from the west and attained southwest ridge for the final stretch to the top. Visibility into the west was virtually nonexistent, so we tried out the north ridge and it surprisingly worked out well. Many boulders with large steps, with good holds and ledges to prop ourselves up.

Woody Creek Basin
Woody Creek Basin

Photos from this trip can be found here.

First half hour of the summit stay we were still in a whiteout. Slowly, clouds began to dissipate and let out views of basins below. Then magically moments later, views of nearby high points emerged when clouds retreated all together. Since it was still early in the day, pup and I stayed for another hour chewing the fat while savoring the views.

We got to see Black Peak in its fully glory a few times, otherwise it’s hidden in clouds. Nice to see some tucked away high points like Mount Benzarino, Goode Mountain, and McGregor Mountain. We’d occasionally get to see Kangaroo Ridge , Snagtooth Ridge, Vasiliki Ridge, and the Liberty Bell group. I caught a glimpse of Golden Horn and Tower Mountain just once.

Southeast panoramic view
Southeast panoramic view

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Two climbers topped out just as we were getting ready to descend; we briefly chatted. After making it back down to Maple Pass. I decided to continue the Heather-Maple Pass loop hike that I had been wanting to do all these years. Glad to see many people on the trail taking advantage of the decent afternoon weather.

The four-mile hike from Maple Pass back to the trailhead via the dividing ridge between Lake Ann and Rainy Lake was quite scenic and relaxing. Not at all hard to see why this had been one of the popular day hiking destinations in the North Cascades. It certainly lived up to the hype.

Lake Ann with North Cascades high points
Lake Ann with North Cascades high points

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Access: Rainy Pass Trailhead
Gear: helmet

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