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.

Access: Rainy Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: 9.8 miles
Elevation Range: 4,880′-8,080′
Gear: helmet

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 7,000′ via a scree ramp between cliff bands. After ascending 450′ on the steep ridge we soon found ourselves in clouds with minimal visibility. At 7,450′, 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 450′ to the notch at 7,920′, we traversed westbound with lots of solid ledges and ramps. Terrain comprised the typical Cascades elements–dirt and gravel-covered downsloping slabs and loose rocks, 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. Visibility into the west was virtually nonexistent at this point, so we tried the north ridge and it worked out surprisingly well. Many boulders with large steps, plenty of good holds and ledges to prop ourselves up to finish the rest of the climb.

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 dissipated and let out views of basins below. And moments later, views of nearby high points magically 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 full glory a few times, otherwise it remained hidden in clouds. Nice to see some tucked away high points like Mount Benzarino, Goode Mountain, and McGregor Mountain. Occasionally the Kangaroo Ridge, Snagtooth Ridge, Vasiliki Ridge, and the Liberty Bell group would decide to show their faces. I caught a glimpse of Golden Horn and Tower Mountain just once right before wrapped up our stay.

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.

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