Tricouni Peak by Primus Peak via Borealis Glacier + Lucky Pass / 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 starting from Cascade River Road. But the north route via Thunder Creek Trail gives direct access to the peak.

Tricouni Peak in the mists
Tricouni Peak in the mists

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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 for hours to cross.

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

Amphitheater by Thunder Creek Trailhead
Amphitheater by Thunder Creek Trailhead

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Back on Thunder Creek Trail

The 6.5-mile quiet walk to McAllister camp went by quickly over a few chats with Mr. Cody. It would’ve taken longer with many photo stops. But this time, I tried hard not to stop every five minutes so we could keep going.

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 as I marveled at first sight of Tricouni Peak.

New bridge
New bridge

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En Route to Tricouni Peak

Before long, we hiked past the washed-out bridge. Then we stayed on the path for another quarter of a mile. Last time, we didn’t go up far enough to see the hidden log jam.

We soon left the trail and went through the light brush toward Thunder Creek. It was exciting to see the debris when we went onto the shore. The crossing was now in full view.

 Tricouni Peak north ridge
Tricouni Peak north ridge

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Crossing Thunder Creek

We weaved through massive down trees in the first half of the crossing. After that, we hopped off the debris onto a sandbar midway. Then we stepped through shallow water and reached the down tree.

Without this down tree, it wouldn’t have been possible to finish crossing the raging river to the other side. Once we hopped off the log using the root ball, we went back into the forest.

Log jam
Log jam

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Tricouni Peak North Ridge

We later worked our way back north from the west shore to the old bridge. Then we took a short break there, checking out the structure. Soon, we found the unofficial trail at the first fork and hiked up to the north ridge.

The mild terrain didn’t last long before the faint path shot straight up the hillside. The lower trail was full of down trees and annoying to bypass. But we could step over or skirt around most of them.

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

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Borealis Lake Basin

Views were spotty in the dense forest. But as the terrain slowly flattened by the 4600′ viewpoint, I caught sight of Primus Peak. Then Snowfield Peak was right across the McAllister Creek Valley.

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

View below Borealis Lake
View below Borealis Lake

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Borealis Lake Camp Below Tricouni Peak

I rarely see anyone on an obscure climb, not to mention seeing the same person twice in one season. Below the lake, I bumped into Eric the second time this summer with his sister-in-law and son. But I saw him the day before while getting a 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 downward slabs. So it wasn’t suitable for camping.

Tricouni Peak and Primus Peak above Borealis Lake
Tricouni Peak and Primus Peak above Borealis Lake

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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 thought we’d go up today instead. The forecast for Sunday didn’t look too favorable either.

I found a decent camp spot and left after some reorganizing. Then we walked west along the lakeshore until the rocky ground ended abruptly. Soon, we made our way up to the ridgeline over slabs and heather.

Going around the lakeshore
Going around the lakeshore

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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 had separated the upper and lower glaciers.

We went southeast on Eric’s tracks and bypassed a few crevasses en route to Lucky Pass. It seemed to have taken a long time to cross the glacier. Alas, we reached the pass with the view of Forbidden Peak to the south.

Forbidden Peak beyond Lucky Pass"
Forbidden Peak beyond Lucky Pass”

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The Final Stretch

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

Ramps and ledges made for an efficient climb. But none of the dark stones under the thin layer of scree was stable. So we slowly worked our way up the ridge to reach the narrow, bouldered summit.

Thank goodness for crampons
Thank goodness for crampons

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Tricouni Peak Summit Views

Today’s weather pattern was similar to our Primus Peak climb. Clouds had crept in from the west while we were still on the glacier. Soon, they filled the western sky, and we never saw Snowfield Peak again.

Primus Peak was on the other side of Lucky Pass. We stayed an hour and enjoyed the sight of Jack Mountain, Mount Logan, and Forbidden Peak. Views to Hozomeen Mountain and Goode Mountain were also decent.

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

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Back to Borealis Lake

On the way down, I faced in to go through steep parts of the snow ramp. Then from the pass, we retraced our route to go back to the other side of the snow. Soon, we went back onto the grassy slopes.

Now that we’re heading the other way, the slabs were quite the pain. Soon, we reached our campsite as darkness fell. Backpacker’s Pantry Phad Thai with Chicken has never tasted so good after a long day!

Leaving Tricouni Peak
Leaving Tricouni Peak

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A Night by Tricouni Peak

The south wind continued throughout the night as I enjoyed the shuffling sounds. After dinner, I spent time looking through the maps inside the tent. I kept thinking how great it was to have climbed today.

We avoided 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 had never encountered any wildlife during this trip.

And we're out
And we’re out

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Back on Thunder Creek Trail

Back on the north ridge, we stumbled across a different trail. So we tried staying on it for a while until it later faded. Then we picked up our route and retraced our way down the steep slopes.

At last, we made it back onto the trail safely through Thunder Creek. On the way out, we met a couple of summer camp groups. Afterward, we enjoyed a quiet hike out through the lush forest.

Thunder Creek at high noon
Thunder Creek at high noon

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. onehikeaweek

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

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