Corteo Peak by Black Peak via Heather Maple Pass Loop Trail / 寇特歐峯

  • Reading time:10 mins read

Corteo Peak by Black Peak is a stone’s throw away from Rainy Pass. Meanwhile, it ranks #7 in the Goode-Logan-Black Range after Mount Arriva. The peak is accessible via the famous Maple Pass Loop Trail.

Corteo Peak in clouds
Corteo Peak in clouds

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Corteo Peak at a Glance

Access: Rainy Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: 9.8 miles
Elevation Range: 4880′-8080′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

The Preface

I would see the Corteo Peak from the nearby peaks over the years. But this distinct high point hasn’t been on the radar until this season. So after our recent trip to Tenmile Pass, I decided to pay a visit.

It’s easy to overlook the peak in favor of its classic neighbor Black Peak. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent vantage point to view other places near Rainy Pass. Meanwhile, it offers a panoramic view of the North Cascades as well.

Maple Pass Loop Trail this way
Maple Pass Loop Trail this way

See more trip photos here.

Rainy Pass in the North Cascades

Corteo Peak is accessible via North Cascades Highway and doable in a day due to its closeness. I had initially planned on climbing it with Cutthroat Peak over one weekend to make the long drive worthwhile.

But the weather didn’t cooperate back then, and I could only climb Cutthroat Peak on day one. Before the trip, I had misread the map, so the pup came into the national park with me.

Lake Ann from Maple Pass Loop Trail
Lake Ann from Maple Pass Loop Trail

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Maple Pass Trail

It’s been eight years since I last set foot on the Maple Pass Trail. Back then, the weather was terrible, and it took a while to reach Heather Pass. But this time, the three-mile hike to Maple Pass was a breeze in decent weather.

We saw Corteo Peak from the pass as the clouds covered the top. Soon, we dropped into Maple Creek Basin toward Horsefly Pass. But I kept my fingers crossed for the weather to improve.

Lake Ann from below Maple Pass
Lake Ann from below Maple Pass

See more trip photos here.

Through Maple Creek Basin

Before long, we traversed below Horsefly Pass at 6400′. Then we made a rising traverse over the broad talus field below the east face. Later, I located the scree ramp between cliff bands and followed it up to the southeast ridge at 7000′.

We soon went into the mists after climbing a few hundred feet on the steep ridgeline. Then we moved north at 7450′ through downsloping slabs. I checked my GPS a few times in weak visibility to stay on track.

Maple Creek Basin
Maple Creek Basin

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Corteo Peak Southeast Ridge

Soon, we were below the north ridge but couldn’t see much up high because of the clouds. Then we went west upill over ledges and ramps to the notch at 7920′ for the next few hundred feet.

Terrain comprised the typical Cascades elements–dirt and gravel-covered slabs. Plus, loose rocks sprinkled throughout the end-of-the-season alpine flowers and heather. Boulders later replaced the scree on the notch.

Corteo Peak east basin
Corteo Peak east basin

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Corteo Peak North Ridge

Of the two reports, one group went up the north ridge. Meanwhile, the other party bypassed the crest from the west and finished from the southwest. But since we couldn’t see much to the west, we opted for the north ridge.

This route ended up working out well. Some places required us to go through boulders and prop ourselves up with solid holds and ledges. The pup needed a boost through one tough spot but had no issues going down later.

North ridgeline from the notch
North ridgeline from the notch

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Corteo Peak Summit Views

The first half an hour on top was cloudy. Then clouds shifted to see into Woody Creek Basin and other valleys. Moments later, nearby peaks poked out of the mists, so we stayed another hour for the views.

Black Peak was in the clouds the whole time, but I saw tucked-away places like Mount Benzarino. Kangaroo Ridge and Snagtooth Ridge sometimes made a cameo. I also caught a glimpse of Golden Horn and Tower Mountain right before we left.

Southeast panoramic view
Southeast panoramic view

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Looping Back to Highway 20

Two people came up as we left, so we chatted some before going back to Maple Pass. From there, we continued on the Heather-Maple Pass Loop as lots of people were out enjoying the gorgeous weather.

The four-mile walk from the pass back to the trailhead was scenic, and I saw Rainy Lake along the way. The hike had lived up to the hype. Now I knew why it’s of the classics in the North Cascades.

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

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Laurel Geisbush

    Looks like a beautiful scramble John!

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