Playing with Hellfire on Salvation Peak / 救星峯上玩地獄火

Summit ridge traverse
Summit ridge traverse

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Through researching beta on Salvation Peak, I discovered that climbers sometimes referred to this obscure high point as Hellfire Peak. In reading more of the naming history, I too agree that “Salvation” played off Damnation Peak better. The approach for this peak was very similar to Oakes Peak, the neighboring south peak, steep and forested.

The Lowdown on Salvation Peak

Access: Bacon Creek Road
Round Trip: 9 miles
Elevation Range: 800′-5560′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
GPS Track: available

Short Road Walk and the Lower Forest

Without a sound backup plan, I kept fingers crossed for a short road walk. To my amazement, Bacon Creek Road was free of snow and drivable to our starting point. I parked the car before the landslide in fear of damaging the underside from getting over the protruding rock debris. High-clearance vehicles would be ok here. Then we walked under a mile to the road junction.

Upon crossing Jumbo Creek, we followed the decommissioned roadbed until large down trees forced us off the path. The plan was to head up the west ridge to reach the saddle between Salvation Peak and Oakes Peak. But rather than staying close to the creek past the crossing, we went too far north into the lower forest. As a result, we wasted some time getting through the down tree junkyard.

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West Ridge Calf Burner to 4800′ Saddle

After getting out of the down tree mess, the rest of the approach in the semi-open forest was pretty straightforward. We encountered another section of small down trees higher up, but they were easily negotiable. As I began to wonder whether we’d see snow on the ridge, the first patch appeared at 3600′. I weaved around snow patches for the next 400′ before finally putting on snowshoes.

The terrain was especially steep between 3000′ and 4000′. And sometimes I either sidestepped uphill or make greater switchbacks to provide some calf relief. Gradually, the ridge flattened from 4,400′ to the saddle, with the first look of Damnation Peak across the valley. Just as in the weather forecast, it flurried for a short while after 11 AM.

See more trip photos here.

Rolling Ridge Traverse to the Summit

Calling this a rolling ridge was a mild exaggeration, as contour lines on maps don’t always translate broken ridgelines well. A handful of steep drop-offs along the way, and the one in the summit’s south basin was especially so. But thank goodness for snow coverage we were able to stay on top of the ridge crest the whole way. Once again, channeling my inner Madea: “Hellur Hallelujer, praise da Lort!”

The breathtaking views took my mind of off the annoying and the constant going up and down. We slowly made our way toward the summit in the final mile and a half. I’d occasionally glance over to my right shoulder for signs of Mount Terror in the southern Picket Range. According to Google Earth, the formidable high point would emerge from behind the ridgeline above Triumph Pass at some point.

A few more moderate drop-offs on the summit ridge and we came to stand before the steep summit block. I thought about scoping out a better route on the south side but then decided to ascend southeast slopes directly. Alas, below the top was another drop-off before we finally reached the broad summit.

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Salvation Peak Summit

Despite being slightly shorter, the views Salvation Peak were quite comparable to both Oakes Peak and Damnation Peak. I got to see more peaks in the southern Picket Range but missed out on everything behind the taller Thornton Peak. Given ideal weather and snow conditions, any one of the high points in this area can offer fantastic views.

Views of high points in the vicinity included Mount Triumph, Mount Despair, Mount Blum, Bacon Peak. Snowfield group, Paul Bunyans Stump, Colonial Peak, Big Devils Peak, and Inspiration group were to the east. Mount Baker was in full display, solemnly towered over the head of Bacon Creek drainage. Three Fingers and Whitehorse Mountain were in the distant south.

See more trip photos here.

Outro

Once we reversed the annoying up and down ridge traverse back to the saddle, the rest was all downhill. The steepest section on the ridge was hard on the knees, much easier to sidestep downhill instead. I switched to microspikes past the snowline to prevent potentially sliding down on slick duff.

Back in the lower forest, we left the ridge before reaching the down trees and headed toward Jumbo Creek. This move ended up saving us a lot of time. We found the old roadbed by the creek crossing, and then enjoyed a short walk back before sundown.

Thanks for another glorious day
Thanks for another glorious day

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Looks like you had another enjoyable outing, John. I am imaging the sportiness of the “rolling” ridge, it’s true that you just never know on some of those until you get out on them and good snow pack can make all the difference. I like the new logo, too!

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