Spire Point by Dome Peak / 靠巨蛋峯的尖塔點

The magnificent Spire Point

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Happy Seattle Pride weekend!

Five years had passed since our climb on Dome Peak and Sinister Peak. Back then, we biked eight miles to access the Downey Creek Trailhead. That was just months before Suiattle River Road reopened. It felt so good not have to repeat that part. Just like before, the least exciting approach to Sixmile Camp was one of the lowlights.

The Lowdown on Spire Point

Access: Downey Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 28 miles
Elevation Range: 1440′-8264′
Gear: helmet, crampons, rope
GPS Track: available

Downey Creek Trail and Bachelor Creek Trail

The pup and I car camped to start hiking on Downey Creek Trail at 7 AM. I expected to see a lot full of cars at the trailhead; there was just one. The occasional big logs over the trail made the hike a little more interesting. The old-growth forest always had that distinct, refreshing smell this time of the year. We took a break at the Sixmile Camp at 6.5 miles in.

The Bachelor Creek Trail looked more defined now that the area was more easily accessible. Other than down trees and dense brush, the path was easy to follow. Though soon, we were soaking wet from the vegetation covered in recent precipitation. I had somehow missed the turnoff to the log crossing. Instead, we went uphill at the junction.

First opening
First opening

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Bachelor Creek Meadows to Cub Lake

The upper trail took us through dense alder. The path was easy to follow until it came to an abrupt end before the forest. After circling for a few minutes, I decided to continue in the open forest. Just above 4400′ back out in the clearing, we crossed Bachelor Creek to the south side on big logs. Soon, we connected up with the main route before the meadows.

Just past the muddy meadows was the avalanche debris. We followed the sometimes faint path up to the 5400′ bench. The trail became more defined past this point. And it continued to move toward the head of Bachelor Creek. Before long, we were up at the 5900′ pass overlooking Cub Lake. We zigzagged our way down the talus slope and got to the eastern end of the lake.

Light at the end of the debris
Light at the end of the debris

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Cub Lake to Spire Col

Surprisingly, Cub Lake was free of snow this time around. The Itswoot Lake Basin had much less snow compared with five years ago. I got my first look at Spire Point here. As we proceeded to move through the basin, four skiers quietly showed up. They were nearing the end of the Ptarmigan Traverse. We were the first person and dog they saw since leaving Cascade Pass four days earlier.

After bidding farewell to the crew, we moved toward Itswoot Ridge. I wanted to shorten tomorrow’s trip by staying at Spire Col. That way, we could also be closer to Spire Point. The terrain was mostly snow-free until we got above 6800′. Then I noticed bear tracks here. Glad the skiers had warned me about the bear. I put on crampons and followed the ski tracks. By now, we had very little energy left. It seemed to take forever to reach the col.

Itswoot Ridge traverse
Itswoot Ridge traverse

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Spire Col Camp

O.M.G.!!! The scenery north of the col was gorgeous. Our Dome/Sinister Peak climb was mostly cloudy, so I never got to see much of the other side. Witnessing rest of the Ptarmigan Traverse was just incredible. Without getting higher up on the ridge, I could only see the tip of Spire Point. I wish I had more energy to enjoy the sunset views on both sides before bed. The bear tracks crossed the col and went down north on the glacier.

It got windier as the night went on. Though, we were able to keep out of most of it and stayed warm throughout the night. I’ve been putting off on getting a 4-season tent. But having one on this trip would’ve been helpful. It was a beautiful starry night for photography. But unfortunately, the wind chills kept me inside the tent. I kept wondering if that bear was ever going to return.

North view from Spire Col
North view from Spire Col

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Spire Point Climb

We stayed in bed until after sunrise. I also wanted things to dry a bit and the wind to die down. So glad we made the push to Spire Col yesterday. This morning I was happy only to walk .25 mile to the start of the climb. From the reports I’ve read, Spire Point was a technical climb of class 4/5. That meant the pup would need to wait around for me to come back.

I’ve also learned that the top had just enough seating for one person. Sounded like a narrow summit! I couldn’t wait to see the views from up high. Since Matt Lemke has a great writeup on SummitPost, I won’t get into the technical details here. Things moved smoothly from the scree through the class 4 chimney. I walked past the lower rappel station on the southeast ridge. Then I got onto a ledge on the east face. The real climb began here in the final 50′.

Pointy
Pointy

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Final Strech to Spire Point Summit

The SummitPost writeup pointed out the friction climb on a slab as an option to get to the upper ledge. I think the last time I friction climbed something was on the summit rock of Big Snagtooth. In other words, I probably shouldn’t practice the technique here while soloing! So instead, I went just left of the slab using some finger folds and a small crack to get up.

With the summit now 15′ above me, there were two route options. I could either try getting up the overhang (gulp!) or traverse the narrow ledge back to the southeast ridge. “May I please buy the second option?”. But even with the summit within reach, the battle was far from over. As I straddled the crest, I wondered which side of the steep arete provided the better choice. Well, neither. Instead, I inched forward slowly to reach the narrow summit.

On southeast ridge
On southeast ridge

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Spire Point Summit with Views

Pure adrenaline rush! After arriving at the top, I anchored myself into the summit rock adorned with webbing. Oh man! What I had missed out on views last weekend, I got them all back with this climb. I took a moment to orient myself before savoring the views. Dome Peak was even more gorgeous than I remembered. The last time I was here, the top was mostly in clouds. But what a magnificent looking peak!

Now it finally all made sense why people would do the Ptarmigan Traverse. Words couldn’t describe the incredible feeling as I looked north. It was in my plan to climb this peak as part of the traverse. I also wanted to visit a couple of high points along the way. Unfortunately, most of my trips this season will be two-day outings because of work. Ugh, work, what is that???

North to west panoramic view
North to west panoramic view

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Leaving the Summit

I ended up spending over an hour on top; it was too gorgeous to leave! The best part was seeing the cascading peaks along the Ptarmigan Traverse. Sentinel Peak, Old Guard Peak, Mount Formidable, Spider Mountain, Johannesburg Mountain, Eldorado Peak, Forbidden Peak, oh my! The pup was either napping or playing in the snow. Alas, I needed to head down before he thought I’d left him for good.

Two 60-meter rappels later, the pup and I reunited down by the scree. The sun was still blasting down as we quickly got back to camp. What a vantage point Spire Point was! I kept turning around to look at its profile. It’s always hard to fathom I was just on top of something that gnarly looking and pointy. As reported, the summit was just big enough for one person.

Getting down
Getting down

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Out the Way We Came

We spent an hour back at camp before heading out. It was going to be a long way back to the car; 14 miles to be exact. Good to be back on the trail below the snow line on Itswoot Ridge. After a quick lunch break at Cub Lake, we began the 500′ ascent up to the pass. Since we lost parts of the upper trail yesterday, I opted to go back through the log crossing.

Right before trail made its way into the slide alder, the rain came. Very soon, it turned into a thundering rainstorm. We hunkered down in the trees and waited for a while. The thunder eventually stopped, but the downpour persisted. So after putting covers on everything, we braved the weather and continued to head down in the basin.

Storm's a-coming
Storm’s a-coming

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Sixmile Camp and out

Shortly after we arrived in Sixmile Camp, the rain stopped. But even with rain covers, everything still came out damp. A water-wringing break by the bridge, we then hiked the rest 6.5 miles out to the car.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Another good one! Thanks for the great trip report and photos.

  2. Amazing. Magnificent landscape. I feel like being there!

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