Tricouni Peak via Borealis Glacier / 經極光冰川上崔宼妮峯

First sighting of Tricouni Peak
First sighting of Tricouni Peak

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The Lowdown on Tricouni Peak

Access: Thunder Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 24 miles
Elevation Range: 1240′-8102′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons

GPS Track: available

Thunder Creek Trail Approach

Tricouni Peak was going to be our season opener over Memorial Day weekend. But due to a washed-out bridge, we spent hours trying to ford the water. In the end, we turned around and made a 13-mile hike out of the day trip. After coming back from Mount Olympus on Tuesday, I began to plan our next destination. That’s when I saw a trip report that a group found a log jam for their Inspiration Traverse!

Since we had hiked on this trail recently, I didn’t take as many photos. So the 6.5-mile to McAllister stock camp went by in the blink of an eye. Along the way, I saw that the bridge that was still under construction in May was now in full operation. The trail crew had done an excellent job with it. Two women caught up to us as I was taking a photo of the first sighting of Tricouni Peak.

New bridge
New bridge

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Thunder Creek Crossing

We hiked past the old bridge crossing and then stayed on the path for another quarter of a mile. Last time, we didn’t go up the trail far enough to notice the log jam. Then we got off the path and fought through the brush toward Thunder Creek. When we got to the shore, the down trees we were looking for were now in full display. The route we would take to cross the water was in plain sight.

The first half of the crossing required us to zigzag over a ton of down trees. Then we hopped off the log jam onto a sandbar in the middle of the creek. After crossing a shallow section of the water, we walked across the lone tree that made the trip. Because without it, getting through the rest of the river would have been impossible. We got off the log, by way of the root ball, to the other side.

Log jam
Log jam

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North Ridge

Once we got to the west shore, we worked our way back north toward the old bridge crossing. Then we located the unofficial trail at the first junction and followed it up to the north ridge. The moderate terrain didn’t last long before the faint path practically shot straight up the ridgeline. Lower sections were full of down trees. But for the most part, we were able to step over or skirt around easily.

Views were spotty in the dense forest. Then the terrain flattened as we broke out into the 4600′ viewpoint. There I got the first sighting of Primus Peak, plus Snowfield Peak across the McAllister Creek Valley. After a quick break, we got back into the forest for the rest of the ascent to Borealis Lake. Initially, the section of the path beyond the viewpoint was hard to follow. Luckily, we stumbled across a defined trail just as the terrain gradually steepened.

Snowfield Peak from 4600 viewpoint
Snowfield Peak from 4600 viewpoint

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Borealis Lake and Beyond

Just below the lake, pup and I bumped into Eric for the second time this summer. I’d rarely run into anyone while working on my bucket list. Not to mention seeing the same person twice in the same season! I saw Eric the day before while getting my wilderness permit. He had brought his sister-in-law and oldest son out for the trip as well. Like many lakes formed at the bottom of a glacier, Borealis Lake didn’t exist until recent decades. With loose rocks and slabs, the shoreline wasn’t conducive for traversing entirely.

I planned to climb Tricouni Peak on day two. But since we arrived in the early afternoon, I wanted to do that today. Besides, the weather forecast for Sunday wasn’t favorable, so it was a good idea to avoid climbing altogether. I found a decent camp spot and immediately left after reorganizing my pack. We traveled west along the lakeshore until the rocky ground abruptly ended. Then we made our way up toward the ridgeline through downsloping slabs and heather slopes.

Borealis Lake and peaks
Borealis Lake and peaks

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Lucky Pass and Beyond

I put on crampons once we hit the snow line on the western end of the glacier. Since much of the snow has retreated, exposed slabs and cliffs now separated the upper and lower glaciers. We followed fresh tracks and headed southeast toward Lucky Pass. We navigated through a couple of openings along the way. Traversing the higher glacier to the east end seemed to take forever. Alas, we eventually made it to the pass looking south toward Forbidden Peak.

The access snow finger wasn’t hard to miss; it was straight above the pass. We followed the existing tracks up the slope for 200′ and then transitioned onto the rocks. Wide ledges and ramps made the climb much more efficient. The dark stones covered in a thin layer of scree weren’t all stable. We took time working our way up the ridge and eventually arrived on the boulder-stacked summit.

Thank goodness for crampons
Thank goodness for crampons

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Tricouni Peak Summit

Even before getting up to the top, I had a pretty good idea of the views to expect. Interestingly, today’s weather pattern was very similar to our trip up Primus Peak. Clouds crept in from the west earlier while we were still down on the glacier. Then on the summit, the clouds obscured the western sky to be able to see anything in that direction. And I never got to see Snowfield Peak.

Though cloudy, there were better views in all other directions. During our one-hour stay, I got glimpses of Black Peak, Jack Mountain, Mount Logan, and Forbidden Peak. Views to Hozomeen Mountain, Crater Mountain, Buckner Mountain, and Goode Mountain were quite good. Last but not least. The imposing Primus Peak was just on the other side of Lucky Pass.

South to west panoramic view
South-to-west panoramic view

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Back to Borealis Lake Camp

I faced in for parts of the descent on the steep snow finger. Then from the pass, we backtracked and quickly went back to the other side of Borealis Glacier. The heather slopes were easy to get down. But since we’re now heading downward, the downsloping slabs, on the other hand, were a pain. We got back to camp just as darkness fell. Phad Thai Chicken by Backpacker’s Pantry never tasted so good after a long day!

The south wind continued to blow throughout the night. As I looked through maps inside the tent, I kept thinking how happy I was to have climbed today instead. Not only we got to avoid Sunday’s iffy weather, but we’d also have a much more relaxing exit. After a long day, the pup and I slept soundly tonight.

Goodnight
Goodnight

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Heading out

We woke up early this morning. But it started to rain before 6 AM and lasted for about an hour. So we stayed inside the tent the whole time and listened to the raindrops. Afterward, we bummed around while enjoying the views and the dead silence. Then it dawned on me that we hadn’t had any wildlife encounter during our stay. The stubborn clouds just wouldn’t leave Snowfield Peak alone!

On the way down on the north ridge, we came upon a different trail. So we followed it for a while until it dwindled. Then we picked up our up track and retraced our steps back down the mountain. After crossing Thunder Creek, we safely made it back onto the trail and then enjoyed a quiet hike back out. We ran into a couple of summer camp groups along the way.

Thanks for a memorable trip
Thanks for a memorable trip

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Another fun looking trip! Love this.

  2. Thanks Jefferson! Hope you’re having a great summer.

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