2018/10/6 – Genius / 天賦峯

A true maven
A true maven

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Access: Phelps Creek Trailhead (#1511)
Round Trip: 15.5 miles
Elevation Range: 3,520′-8,039′
Gear: helmet

Last-minute plan change led to tackling possibly the last big mountain of the season. This would’ve been the season’s opener before I decided to first visit the wildfire-prone Pasayten Wilderness over Memorial Day weekend. Genius deserved its own special mention since my effort in bundling it with other peaks on two separate trips was to no avail.

Long line of cars with many entries in the trailhead register to Carne Mountain and Spider Meadow suggested last-minute rush for fall colors. Pup and I met several groups on the way to Spider Meadow. At 4,800′, just before crossing the creek flowing down from Genius’ west basin, we left the trail and scrambled north through light brush.

You've all been hiding
You’ve all been hiding

Photos from this trip can be found here.

We avoided slide alder in lower elevations by staying close to the creek and following one of the several game trails on climbers left. Branches were useful to keep from sliding on mud and wet slabs. Beyond 5,400′, terrain opened up with many scramble options to negotiate minor cliffs and outcrops. Larches not visible from the Phelps Creek Trail were now slowly surfacing as we got closer to the upper basin.

From 6,800′ west of Genius, we crossed the broad and flat basin to the east side and ascended eastward toward the minor rib leading directly to the summit ridge. Before attaining the rib, we first needed to get through a steep, albeit short, section of unpleasant scree field plus a wet dirt slope.

Heading to the actual summit
Heading to the actual summit

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Pockets of snow and melting snow water covered most of the downsloping slabs in the lower, more exposed sections, while abundant loose rocks and wet scree-covered ramps and ledges occupied the higher grounds. Amazing what little wetness and a thin layer of new snow could do to slow us down significantly.

Near top of the ridge we headed toward a nearby pinnacle mistaking it for the summit. After getting back down to the saddle, we proceeded to scramble southeast to the true summit 500′ away. The exposed summit offered little seating area, with just enough new snow to make moving around while overlooking the precipitous northeast face a bit nerve-racking.

North panoramic view
North panoramic view

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Views of sun-facing, taller neighbors around Big Creek drainage were simply breathtaking, especially after receiving a dusting of new snow. Dumbell, Greenwood, Copper, Fernow, 7FJ, and Maude were merely within my grasp. The imposing Bonanza Peak situated between Dumbell and Greenwood appeared to be a lot closer from this angle.

To the west, majority of the highest peaks of Washington State, notably Glacier Peak, were beginning to be enwrapped in the afternoon’s low cumulous clouds. Phelps Ridge, Chiwawa, Fortress, Buck, Clark, and Luahna gradually drowned in their own shadows as they continued to be backlit by the glowing sun.

Phelps Creek Valley before sunset
Phelps Creek Valley before sunset

Photos from this trip can be found here.

We retraced our route and quickly got back down to the 6,800′ basin. Another 2,000′ descent put us back down on the trail at 4,800′ before sunset for the six-mile hike back to the car.

Photos from this trip can be found here.

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