A Bullion Basin Reverie / 金塊盆地的遐想

East Peak in hiding
East Peak in hiding

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Environs = Point 6760 + East Peak + Platinum Peak + Bullion Peak + Crown Point

We’ve had a good run of gorgeous weather in the last two weekends. Today the plan was to go through a handful of old trips. But instead, I found myself start packing for another outing. Due to the amount of snow I hadn’t been able to access many service roads this month. Though yesterday we were lucky enough to find a place with a shorter approach close to Highway 2.

The Lowdown on Bullion Basin

Access: Bullion Basin Trailhead
Round Trip: 7 miles
Elevation Range: 4320′-6760′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS Track: available

The Approach to the Ridge

Our late departure from home ended up taking longer to get to Crystal Mountain Resort. I parked in Lot C, away from the main parking area and in a direct approach to East Peak. I put on snowshoes at the trailhead and then followed a set of old ski tracks into the forest. Without making good use of the ski tracks, the approach on soft snow would not have been as enjoyable.

Skiers tend to make long, drawn-out switchbacks. At times it would have made more sense to go straight uphill on moderate terrain. Today I was happy to stick to the ski tracks as we were at the mercy of the snow conditions. We Skiers avoided avalanche terrain by weaving through the forest most of the time. Mount Rainier was visible once we got above the trees.

Although the tracks were getting farther away from East Peak, I wasn’t too terribly concerned. I knew once we got up on the ridge we would move much faster. Eventually, ski tracks brought us onto the north ridge of the unnamed high point (6760) south of Scout Pass. Not sure why this high point didn’t have a name since it’s higher than East Peak by 100′!

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Ridge Traverse to Platinum Peak

I thought we were on East Peak the whole time, but the map had indicated otherwise. After spending an hour soaking in the views including Norse Peak, we began making our way south. The nice thing about this ridge traverse was not having to gain (or lose) much elevation in between high points. We made a brief pause on the actual East Peak before continuing.

Just as I had suspected, there were a ton of ski activities in the two nearby basins to the east. The various ski track patterns strewing the slopes were mesmerizing. Before long, we were on top of Platinum Peak and looking down into the forested Bullion Basin. Perhaps the coolest thing we encountered on this trip was the cross marking this summit. We didn’t stay long on this summit before moving on.

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Ridge Traverse to Bullion Peak

I had read about Bullion Basin in my snowshoe book years ago but never got around to hiking in it. Back then I thought this area was only accessible during the ski season. Up until now, the rolling ridge traverse accompanied by gorgeous views were quite pleasant. Because of this, the descent onto the saddle between Platinum Peak and Bullion Peak all of a sudden felt steep!

Oddly enough. With all the ski activities in the area, the connecting ridge between the two peaks remained untouched. The 300′ ascent from the saddle up to Bullion Peak on soft snow felt like the longest. Surprisingly it only took us half an hour from peak to peak. Judging by the number of ski and snowshoe tracks on the summit, Bullion Peak was the happening place today!

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Quick Travese to Crown Point

After another quick stay on this summit, we began moving toward our last and final destination of the day–Crown Point. The ridge traverse was less than half a mile and it went by in the blink of an eye. Here we got a better look toward Mount Adams and the Goat Rocks Wilderness area. Crystal Mountain and Mount Rainier both looked much closer.

The Outro

On the way back, we reversed the ridge traverse and bypassed Bullion Peak from the west on a packed trail. From the northwest ridge, we made a direct descent into Bullion Basin that looked to have gotten many visitors today. We followed one of the several snowshoe paths down to 5000′, and then left the trail by the switchback. Soon we picked up our up track back in the forest and meandered out the way we came.

See more trip photos here.

Thanks for amother amazing day
Thanks for amother amazing day

See more trip photos here.

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