Cascade Mountain North Peak / 喀斯喀特山北峯

Cascade Mountain was a lot of work that ended in minimal summit views. But rather than moping about what we couldn’t see on top, we visited its northern neighbor for a view do-over. Cascade Mountain North Peak sat 1.5 miles north of the main summit.

Cascade Mountain North Peak above Francis Lake
Cascade Mountain North Peak above Francis Lake

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Cascade Mountain North Peak at a Glance

Access: West Fork Miller River Road
Round Trip: 10 miles
Elevation Range: 1280′-5553′
Gear: helmet, snowshoes, ice ax, crampons
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Miller River Crossing

Just like last weekend, we hiked through the same tree debris. Then we went through the washout in the first 2.5 miles. We walked past the turnoff by a quarter of a mile. But we turned back to the big log on the trail. Puzzlr‘s detailed report was helpful. So I was able to locate the river crossing soon after leaving the trail.

The water level was higher in the spring. So we had to ford the frigid river. Then with boots and gaiters in hands, I wobbled through pebbles in knee-high water to the other side. It felt like a brain freeze for the feet! Meanwhile, the pup enjoyed two laps of swimming. Burr!

Miller River crossing
Miller River crossing

See more trip photos here.

Cascade Mountain North Peak North Slopes

Later, we crossed the stream from Francis Lake to the east side. Another report suggested staying within earshot of the water. So we did just that. As the terrain steepened, we went above a boulder-stacked feature. There we unexpectedly found the faint trail. From 3400′, we then moved straight south.

Slide alder had buried parts of the trail. At times, it was tempting to avoid the brush by moving farther away from the stream. But I stuck to my instinct and fought through some underbrush. Then we found the path on the other side of the mess. We continued through until snow took over at 3800′.

Ridge side attraction
Ridge side attraction

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Going Around Francis Lake

After going up another 500′ of steep terrain, we reached the Francis Lake Basin. The snow-covered lake was three times the size of Gouging Lake. It also had a peninsula on the north end. It was so quiet here. The only sound we heard was the cawing of the two ravens swirling overhead. I felt guilty for interrupting the serenity of this place.

I took a moment to admire the beauty of the lake. Then we walked counterclockwise along the western shore through old avalanche debris. There the snow had just the right amount of consistency. So sidestepped comfortably at 20-30′ above the water. Soon, we reached the south end and then took a short break in the forest.

Going around Francis Lake
Going around Francis Lake

See more trip photos here.

Cascade Mountain North Peak North Ridge

Just past the lake were some cliff bands. But we were able to bypass them on a steep snow ramp. Then from there, we climbed up a narrow gully and continued through the open forest. Later at 5000′, we broke out of the trees into the upper basin. Soon we got our close-up view of today’s goal.

Despite the warm afternoon, snow stayed relatively firm. From the east of the basin, we then went straight south toward the summit. We reached the notch at 150′ below the north ridge and regrouped. Later, we climbed up onto the crest and had our first real look at the steep east side.

Cascade Mountain North Peak north ridge
Cascade Mountain North Peak north ridge

See more trip photos here.

Cascade Mountain North Peak Summit

So I switched to crampons and put on my helmet for the final stretch. We stayed just below the crest and looked down at Tumwater Lake Basin. Along the way, we stepped through the snow in places with trees. Only in the last 20′ to the top was I was able to walk comfortably.

Despite the dense forest on the southern end of the summit, we saw just about everything. Then by peering around tree branches, I could also see the impressive Cascade Mountain main summit south of here. The arête and cornices on top of the mountain were still visible.

Cascade Mountain main peak
Cascade Mountain main peak

See more trip photos here.

Cascade Mountain North Peak Summit Views

Views to the south were spotty. But I could still see many peaks in the Snoqualmie Pass area. Snoqualmie Mountain, Chair Peak, Mount Roosevelt, Kaleetan Peak, to name a few. Like always, Mount Rainier quietly smiled at us in the far south.

The nearby views included Lennox Mountain, Canoe Peak, Dog Mountain, and Malachite Peak. Plus, some peaks in the Wild Sky Wilderness. There were also Mount Daniel, Mount Hinman, Bears Breast Mountain, and Summit Chief Mountain farther east. So many places I have yet to visit!

Northern panoramic view
Northern panoramic view

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Outro via Francis Lake

Before we left the summit, I looked over at the west ridge. It looked like a much better option to come up here. But earlier in the basin, I couldn’t tell whether there were cliffs on that side. So we followed our steps back down the north ridge. Then I retrieved my poles back at the notch.

The 2300′ drop from the lake outlet to the river crossing went by fast. Back in the forest, we made a pitstop next to the beautiful waterfall we saw on the way up. Then I took a few minutes to enjoy the sounds of the running water before leaving.

Thanks for a great day
Thanks for a great day

See more trip photos here.

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