Corteo Peak via Heather Maple Pass / 石南楓樹山道到寇特歐峯

Corteo Peak hasn’t been on the radar until this year. So I decided to go up after we came back from climbing near Tenmile Pass. Over the years, I would see Corteo Peak from other mountains. But it’s easy to overlook the peak when it sits in the shadow of a classic neighbor like Black Peak.

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

Rainy Pass in the North Cascades

Corteo Peak is easily accessible via Highway 20. The fact that it’s not too remote makes it doable in a day. I had planned on climbing this peak with Cutthroat Peak over one weekend. So I would make the long drive worthwhile.

But the weather ended up not cooperating back then. So I was only able to climb Cutthroat Peak on day one. For this trip, I had misread the map before going on the road. So the pup ended up coming into the national park with me.

Corteo Peak in clouds

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Maple Pass Trail

It has been eight years since I last set foot on the Maple Pass Trail. Back then, the weather was terrible. So it felt like taking forever to go up to Heather Pass. But this time, the three-mile hike to Maple Pass was a breeze in decent weather. Plus, Lake Ann looked so much more vibrant in the light.

We finally got the view of Corteo Peak from Maple Pass. But the clouds had shrouded the peak even before we came up here. Soon, we dropped into Maple Creek Basin and went toward Horsefly Pass. Meanwhile, I kept my fingers crossed for the weather to turn better.

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Getting Through Maple Creek Basin

Soon, we were below Horsefly Pass at 6400′. Then we traveled southwest while making a rising traverse slowly. We crossed the large talus field below the east face. Later, I located the reported scree ramp between cliff bands. Then it took us up to the southeast ridge at 7000′.

We went right into the mist after climbing another few hundred feet on the steep ridge. Then at 7450′, we moved north on downsloping slabs. I checked my GPS a few times to ensure we were still on track. Afterward, we came directly below the north ridge notch. The visibility was so weak that I couldn’t see anything up high.

North ridge from the notch
North ridge from the notch

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Corteo Peak Southeast Ridge

So for the next few hundred feet, we moved west through ledges and ramps, up to the notch at 7920′. Terrain comprised the typical Cascades elements–dirt and gravel-covered downsloping slabs. Plus, loose rocks sprinkled among end-of-the-season alpine flowers and heather. Boulders quickly replaced scree on the notch.

Of the two reports found, one group went up the north ridge. The other party bypassed the crest from the west. Then they finished the climb from the southwest. Curiously, I poked my head out the other side. But the visibility west of the notch was nonexistent. So up the north ridge, we went!

This route ended up working out very well. Some places required us to get up through boulders. But we were able to prop ourselves up with solid holds and ledges. The pup needed a boost through one spot. But he would be able to get down on his own later.

Woody Creek Basin
Woody Creek Basin

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Corteo Peak Summit Plus Views

The first half an hour on top, it was still cloudy. But then clouds slowly moved up to give the view of Woody Creek Basin. Soon, we could see the other drainages. Then moments later, the nearby peaks emerged when clouds receded entirely. It was still early in the day. So we stayed for another hour chewing the fat.

We saw Black Peak in its full glory a few times. Otherwise, it stayed in the clouds. I enjoyed v of the tucked-away places like Mount Benzarino and Goode Mountain. Occasionally, Kangaroo Ridge, Snagtooth Ridge, Vasiliki Ridge, and the Liberty Bell group would make a brief cameo. But glad I saw a glimpse of Golden Horn and Tower Mountain right before the summit.

Southeast panoramic view
Southeast panoramic view

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Looping Back to Highway 20

Two climbers came up just as we were leaving. So we briefly chatted. Then we made our way back down to Maple Pass. From there, we then continued on the Heather-Maple Pass Loop. I had wanted to do this hike for a while. There were many others out here making use of the gorgeous afternoon weather.

The four-mile hike from Maple Pass back to the trailhead was very scenic. We saw Lake Ann and Rainy Lake along the way. It’s easy to see this hike being one of the favorites 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

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Laurel Geisbush

    Looks like a beautiful scramble John!

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