Kololo Peaks by Glacier Peak via White Chuck Glacier / 可洛洛峯

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Kololo Peaks are part of an extensive range south of Glacier Peak. Together, they straddle four glaciers east of White Chuck Glacier. The summit ridge is nothing more than a long, rocky crest.

Kololo Peaks actual summit to the east
Kololo Peaks actual summit to the east

See more trip photos here.

Kololo Peaks at a Glance

Access: North Fork Sauk River Trailhead
Round Trip: 28.2 miles
Elevation Range: 2080′-8200′
Gear: helmet, crampons
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

The Preface

Kololo Peaks have only been on my radar this year. I also didn’t know about them during our trip seven years ago. We had excellent weather last week, but I looked forward to seeing more of it this weekend.

I had planned on spending three days in the area to climb other peaks as well. But after leaving Kololo Peaks, I decided to save my vacation day for another trip.

Back to North Fork Sauk River Trail
Back to North Fork Sauk River Trail

See more trip photos here.

Nork Fork Sauk River Trail

Rumor has it that the area is a bustling hub over the Fourth of July. The iffy weather forecast would likely turn most people away. So the pup and I came in this weekend in the hope of avoiding the masses.

Soon after leaving the car, the weather changed from partly sunny to mostly cloudy. The decent trail had only a handful of down trees to bypass easily. Then we reached Red Creek bridge at mile 4.5.

Creek crossing
Creek crossing

See more trip photos here.

Mackinaw Shelter

Another mile of hiking through lush old-growth, we later came up to the Mackinaw Shelter. Instead of stopping there, I wanted to take an extended break on White Pass. So we continued.

However, I didn’t know that the Forest Service had taken down the shelter since my previous trip. But it’s a bummer to lose the known landmark. Soon, half a mile ahead were down trees that took some time to bypass.

Bridging the gap
Bridging the gap

See more trip photos here.

Hiking up to White Pass

So far, we’ve only gained 1000′ in five miles. Then that meant making up the rest 3000′ in the four miles to White Pass. But the short switchbacks up to 5400′ had offset the steady incline. It started to rain at one point.

The terrain expanded above the forest through the meadows. Then we met three climbers before the Pacific Crest Trail junction as they exited. Later, a hiker caught up through the snow gullies to White Pass adorned with one lone tent.

White River Basin from White Pass
White River Basin from White Pass

See more trip photos here.

Hiking Through Foam Pass

Increasing clouds had taken away the views to the east. Soon, three climbers showed up and joined their partner that passed us earlier. Shortly after the group left the pass, we walked up the snowy path paved with many fresh tracks.

We continued to the top of White River Valley in a whiteout, aiming for Foam Pass, west of Point 6770. I later put crampons on over the icy slopes to prepare for the steep descent on the other side. Then we caught up to the four climbers.

En route to Foam Pass
En route to Foam Pass

See more trip photos here.

En Route to White Chuck River Basin Camp

After a brief exchange with the folks on the pass, we soon went downhill. From 6300′ in White Chuck River Basin, we moved uphill again as the group of four followed behind. But soon, the whiteout took away our views.

With lots of snow in the area, it’s unlikely we’d see running water. We later found a dry rock platform at 6700′ east of Lake 6433 as it began to rain. Soon, snow, hail, and wind gusts followed, making setting up the tent a challenge.

This way to Kololo Peaks
This way to Kololo Peaks

See more trip photos here.

Hunkering Down at Camp

There wasn’t much to do but to stay inside the tent. I tried to take a nap but couldn’t fall asleep to the daylight. So we stared at each other and listened to the wind howl for the next two hours. When it stopped, the whiteout persisted.

At 10 PM, we went outside the tent to a starry sky! Without water nearby, I melted snow to make dinner. Guess there was a first for everything! I had hoped to see Kololo Peaks but wasn’t sure if they were visible from camp.

When life gives you lemons
When life gives you lemons

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Kololo Peak Climb

We woke up at 4 AM before the four climbers walked past our camp. We got up at 5 AM to prepare for Kololo Peaks but didn’t start walking until 6:30. The gorgeous morning was a stark contrast to yesterday’s gloomy weather. The pup ran to greet a skier coming up.

Soon, we walked northeast to the top of the east basin. Then at 7200′, I located a snow ramp around a buttress from the west. We continued east on moderate terrain and saw Kololo Peaks’ west summit from below.

The sun is shining
The sun is shining

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The Final Stretch on Kololo Peaks

The decent snow took us to the northwest ridge, where we went onto Suiattle Glacier. Then we moved south along the glacier’s edge to the north of the west peak. Soon, we followed the steep snow and reached the top.

The east peak was visibly taller, so we walked across the flat top to the saddle. Then a quick traverse through exposed terrain put us on the summit. There the front-and-center view of Glacier Peak was how I imagined.

Kololo Peaks actual summit poking out
Kololo Peaks actual summit poking out

See more trip photos here.

Kololo Peaks Summit Views

I still couldn’t believe how gloomy it was the day before. But today, the sky couldn’t have been bluer, and nearly all high points were visible. This summit was the closest I’d seen Glacier Peak without climbing it.

It was a three-volcano day like last week, with Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Glacier Peak. Mount Pugh, Copper Peak, Tenpeak Mountain, Sloan Peak, and everything else joined the lineup.

North panoramic view from Kololo Peaks
North panoramic view from Kololo Peaks

See more trip photos here.

Leaving Kololo Peaks

We spotted a fox over the snow ramp on the way to camp, but it quickly disappeared after seeing us. Two skiers showed up after my power nap as I packed. The pup loved the attention from everyone we met.

We met three climbers by the rocks in the basin on a four-day trip to Glacier Peak. We chatted for a while before going up to Foam Pass. Going up to the ridge in warm weather felt like the crux of our trip.

Heading down from Kololo Peaks
Heading down from Kololo Peaks

See more trip photos here.

Back to White Pass and Out

We saw six parties in the past two days, including two people climbing Glacier Peak in one long day. Pretty epic! The sunny weather and endless views made going back to White Pass a breeze.

After a photo by Red Creek, the one skier we met by the bridge was the last person we saw. Then it was four more miles of walking until we were back at the car.

Red Creek in the PM
Red Creek in the PM

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sam Garcia

    Love your blog!
    I have plenty of experience on snowfields but am wary of legit glacier travel since I’m typically alone.
    Did you use ropes/any special techniques for this trip?

  2. onehikeaweek

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for the feedback! The part of White Chuck Glacier we were on was more of a snowfield than a real glacier. I used a helmet and crampons from camp to the summit. My gear list is also at the beginning of every post. The newer posts anyway.

    Happy hiking!
    John

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