Tricouni Peak by Primus Peak via Borealis Glacier / 崔宼妮峯

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Tricouni Peak by Primus Peak overlooks Borealis Glacier. It marks the end of the famous Inspiration Traverse when starting from Cascade River Road. But the north route via Thunder Creek Trail gives direct access to the peak.

First sighting of Tricouni Peak
First sighting of Tricouni Peak

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Tricouni Peak at a Glance

Access: Thunder Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 24 miles
Elevation Range: 1240′-8102′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

The Preface

Tricouni Peak would’ve been our season opener over Memorial Day weekend. But the washed-out bridge over Thunder Creek had put a damper on the plan. Later we turned around after trying to cross for hours.

I planned my next trip after I came back from Mount Olympus. As I researched, a friend sent me a recent report of the Inspiration Traverse. But what had caught my eye right away was their route via Thunder Creek.

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Back on Thunder Creek Trail

The quiet 6.5-mile walk to McAllister camp went by in the blink of an eye. It would’ve taken much longer. But I tried very hard not to stop and take many photos.

The bridge under construction in May was now in operation. The trail crew had done an excellent job building it. Shortly, two women caught up to us as I marveled at first sight of Tricouni Peak.

New bridge
New bridge

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En Route to Tricouni Peak

Soon, we hiked past the old bridge. Then we continued on the path for another quarter of a mile. Last time, we didn’t go up far enough to see the hidden log jam.

Later we left the trail and went through the light brush toward Thunder Creek. It was exciting to see the debris when we made it out onto the shore. The crossing was now in plain sight.

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Crossing Thunder Creek

The first half of the crossing required us to zigzag through a ton of down trees. Later we hopped off the debris onto a sandbar in the middle of the creek. Then we stepped through shallow water over to the down tree.

Without this down tree, finishing the crossing to the other side of the river would not be possible. So we hopped off the log, by way of the root ball, to the other side.

Log jam
Log jam

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Tricouni Peak North Ridge

Once we made it to the west shore, we worked our way back north toward the old bridge. There we found the unofficial trail at the first fork. Then we hiked up to the north ridge.

The mild terrain didn’t last long before the faint path virtually shot straight up the ridgeline. Lower sections were full of down trees. But we were able to step over or skirt around most of them easily.

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Borealis Lake Basin

Views were spotty in the dense forest at first. Later the terrain flattened as we went up to the 4600′ viewpoint. There I caught the first glimpse of Primus Peak, plus Snowfield Peak across the McAllister Creek Valley.

Soon, we were back in the forest and continued up toward Borealis Lake. The path just beyond the viewpoint was, at first, hard to follow. But later, we stumbled across a defined trail as the terrain steepened.

Snowfield Peak from 4600' viewpoint
Snowfield Peak from 4600′ viewpoint

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Borealis Lake Camp Below Tricouni Peak

I rarely see people on an obscure climb. Not to mention seeing the same person twice in one season! Just below the lake, I bumped into Eric second time this summer with his sister-in-law and son. Though, I saw him the day before while getting my wilderness permit.

Like many lakes formed at the bottom of a glacier, Borealis Lake didn’t exist until recent decades. But the shoreline had lots of loose rocks and slabs. So it wasn’t conducive for camping.

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Change in Plans

I had planned to climb Tricouni Peak the next day. But we arrived in the early afternoon. So I wanted to do that now since the weather forecast for Sunday didn’t look too favorable.

I found a decent camp spot, and then we continued after some reorganizing. We moved west along the lakeshore until the rocky ground ended abruptly. Then we made our way up to the ridgeline on downsloping slabs and heather slopes.

Borealis Lake and peaks
Borealis Lake and peaks

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Borealis Glacier to Lucky Pass

I put on crampons on the west end of the glacier. Much of the snow has retreated over the years. So the exposed slabs and cliffs now separated the upper and lower glaciers.

We went southeast on fresh tracks and to Lucky Pass. Along the way, we bypassed a few crevasses. Traversing to the east end felt like taking forever. Alas, we made it to the pass with the view of Forbidden Peak.

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The Final Stretch

The snow finger above the pass was easy to spot. So we followed existing boot tracks up the slope for 200′. Then we moved onto the rocks shortly after.

Wide ledges and ramps made for an efficient climb. But none of the dark stones under a thin layer of scree was stable. So we slowly worked our way up the ridge. At last, we reached the narrow bouldered summit.

Thank goodness for crampons
Thank goodness for crampons

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Tricouni Peak Summit

Even before reaching the top, I had a pretty good idea of the expected views. Today’s weather pattern was similar to our Primus Peak climb.

Clouds had crept in from the west earlier while we were still on the glacier. Then the dark clouds filled the western sky. So I never saw Snowfield Peak again.

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The Expected Summit Views

Views in all other directions were much more decent. During our one-hour visit, 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 great. Last but not least. The impressive Primus Peak sat right across from Lucky Pass.

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

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Back to Borealis Lake

Later on the way down, I faced in on parts of the steep snow ramp. Then from the pass, we retraced our route and quickly went back to the other side of the snow. Soon, we dropped down on the grassy slopes.

Since we’re now facing down, the slabs, on the other hand, were quite the pain. Later we reached camp just as darkness fell. Backpacker’s Pantry Phad Thai with Chicken has never tasted so good after a long day!

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A Night by Tricouni Peak

The south wind continued throughout the night. After dinner, I spent some time looking through maps inside the tent. I kept thinking how happy I was to have climbed today.

Not only did we avoid Sunday’s iffy weather, but it also gave us a more leisurely exit. The pup and I both had a restful night.

Goodnight
Goodnight

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Exiting on Day Two

We woke up early this morning. Then it began to rain before 6 AM, and it lasted for an hour. So we lay inside the tent and listened to the raindrops.

Afterward, we hung around and enjoyed the views and the silence. Though, the stubborn clouds wouldn’t leave Snowfield Peak! It later dawned on me that we never encountered any wildlife during this trip.

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Back on Thunder Creek Trail

Back on the north ridge, we stumbled across another trail. So we stayed on it for a while until it later faded. Then we picked up our up route and retraced our way down the mountain.

Later we made it back onto the trail safely through Thunder Creek. Along the way, we met a couple of summer camp groups. Afterward, we enjoyed a quiet hike out.

Thanks for a memorable trip
Thanks for a memorable trip

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. onehikeaweek

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

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