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

Tricouni Peak was going to be our season opener on Memorial Day weekend. But the washed-out bridge over Thunder Creek put a damper on the plan. So we turned around after spending hours trying to cross the water. But the 13-mile hike was much more relaxing than last weekend’s trip.

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

Back on Thunder Creek Trail

After coming back from Mount Olympus, I began to plan our next trip. As I researched online, a friend forwarded me a recent report of the Inspiration Traverse. What caught my eye right away was the approach via Thunder Creek. The group had found a place to cross!

I didn’t take many photos on the trail this time. So the 6.5-mile to McAllister stock camp went by in the blink of an eye. The bridge that was still under construction in May was now in full operation. The trail crew had done an excellent job with 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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Thunder Creek Crossing

Soon, we hiked past the old bridge crossing. 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. We then left the trail and went through the light brush toward Thunder Creek. It was exciting to see the log jam when we made it to the shore. The water crossing was now 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 stepping through some shallow water, we walked across the lone tree that made the trip. Because without it, getting over the rest of the river would not have happened. Shortly, we hopped off the log, by way of the root ball, to the other side.

Log jam
Log jam

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North Ridge to Borealis Lake Basin

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

Views were spotty in the dense forest. Then the terrain flattened as we got onto the viewpoint at 4600′. There I got the first sighting of Primus Peak, plus Snowfield Peak across the McAllister Creek Valley. Soon, we went back into the forest and continued to go up to Borealis Lake. The path just beyond the viewpoint was hard to follow at first. But we stumbled across a defined trail just as the terrain steepened.

Snowfield Peak from 4600 viewpoint
Snowfield Peak from 4600 viewpoint

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Borealis Lake Camp Below Tricouni Peak

Right below the lake, I bumped into Eric for the second time this summer. I’d rarely run into anyone while on a climb. Not to mention seeing the same person twice in one 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. But with loose rocks and slabs, the shoreline wasn’t conducive for traversing entirely.

I planned to climb Tricouni Peak the next day. But since we arrived in the early afternoon, I wanted to do that now. Besides, the weather forecast for Sunday wasn’t favorable. So it was a good idea to avoid climbing then. I found a decent camp spot and then continued 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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Getting up to Lucky Pass

I put on crampons once we reached 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 traveled southeast toward Lucky Pass. Along the way, we navigated through a couple of openings. Traversing the higher glacier to the east end felt like taking forever. Alas, we made it to the pass looking south toward Forbidden Peak.

The access snow finger was hard to miss. It was right 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. But the dark stones covered in a thin layer of scree weren’t all stable. So we took time working our way up the ridge. Eventually, we arrived on the boulder-stacked summit.

Thank goodness for crampons
Thank goodness for crampons

See more trip photos here.

Tricouni Peak Summit Plus Views

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 to 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. I never saw Snowfield Peak again.

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

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 on Day Two

We woke up early this morning. But it started to rain before 6 AM, and it lasted for about an hour. So we stayed inside the tent 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 wouldn’t leave Snowfield Peak alone!

On the way down on the north ridge, we came upon a different trail. So stayed on 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. Then we enjoyed a quiet hike out. Along the way, we met a couple of summer camp groups.

Thanks for a memorable trip
Thanks for a memorable trip

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. onehikeaweek

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

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