Booker Mountain via Sahale Arm / 經莎哈立山臂上布克山

Happy Labor Day weekend! After battling slide alder last week, this time, I enjoyed a 100% brush-free outing. I made the best use of the three-day weekend by combining Booker Mountain and Johannesburg Mountain.

Booker Mountain summit up ahead
Booker Mountain summit up ahead

See more trip photos here.

Initially, I had planned a trip up to the Canadian border. Or even an outing down by Lake Chelan. But most of my peaks on my list are now standalone. So it was very tough to decide.

But by taking advantage of the long weekend, the pup then couldn’t join me. Both mountains are within the North Cascades National Park boundary. And neither place was my dog-friendly. But I was okay with not having him.

Booker Mountain at a Glance

Access: Cascade Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3480′-8286′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

The Preface

Booker Mountain is the highest point on Park Creek Ridge. It boasts a flat and elongated summit ridge. So it’s not easy to pick it out of the plenty of North Cascades ridgelines. I only started to pay more attention to it this year. But I knew I would have seen it from Goode Mountain.

This trip was my third time going through Cascade Pass this year. The unexciting approach was getting old after our last outing. From the trailhead, the weather looked the same as the other two times. But the forecast was mostly sunny like on the previous trip. So I kept my fingers crossed.

Another misty start
Another misty start

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Cascade Pass Trailhead to Sahale Arm

The hike up to Cascade Pass went by quickly. From the pass, the clouds looked to be clearing. There I briefly chatted with a retired forest service worker. Then I went south on the trail to stow my gear and food for the next two days. Soon, it went back to cloudy again.

The sky began to clear up as I went up the switchbacks above the pass. The last time I was here, I went climbing with a friend. Soon, an oncoming group warned me about a bear nearby. Sure enough, the creature came out onto the trail just as I hiked above the trees. But when the bear noticed me, it walked away down the path.

Food gatherer
Food gatherer

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Sahale Arm to Horseshoe Basin

Views up here were always spectacular. The moderate hike up the Arm gave views of Eldorado Peak and Forbidden Peak to the northwest. Plus, the entire lineup of the Ptarmigan Traverse was right behind me to the south. Several hikers and backpacking groups were hanging out by Sahale Camp.

I hiked past the joyful crowd and then made my way toward the eastern edge of the Sahale Glacier. Then I started heading down on the buttress extending from Sahale Peak. Soon, at 6600′, I located the snow finger gully, minus the snow, and descended into Horseshoe Basin.

Booker Mountain on the other side of Horseshoe Basin
Booker Mountain on the other side of Horseshoe Basin

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Horseshoe Basin Traverse to 6600′ Buttress Bypass

The basin was how I remembered it–full of beautiful slabs. I tried to stay between 6400′ and 6600′ elevation as I traveled east. The downsloping rocks were sometimes slippery from the snowmelt and the waterfalls. Meanwhile, I kept checking to see how far I was from the buttress bypass.

I vividly remember the arduous traverse to get to Buckner Mountain. But man, this was a broad basin! I thought since it’s my third time here, I’d quickly get through this part. But alternating between slabs, moraine, and heather slowed things down a bit. Eventually, I made it to the bypass past a boulder field.

Looking back from the 6600' buttress bypass
Looking back from the 6600′ buttress bypass

See more trip photos here.

Steep Rock Gully to Book Mountain Proper

After rounding the buttress, the north-trending rock gully awaited. Thankfully, most big rocks were stable here to keep a steady pace. I even stayed close to climbers’ left to avoid any potential rockfalls. The terrain eventually flattened at 7000′, with a stream flowing out of the permanent snowfield ahead.

First, I followed Eric‘s report and hiked up the snow to 7200’. Then I headed south and crossed the field. The goal was to get to the south-trending ridgeline west of Booker Mountain. After getting through more boulders and heather, I was now overlooking the next basin from the ridge. Booker Mountain loomed in the distance.

Permanent snowfield
Permanent snowfield

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The Final Stretch to Booker Mountain

I located a dirt ramp at 7000′ on the ridge and used it to go down into the basin. Without snow, it was a lot of work to get past the moraine in the lower parts. Beyond there, it was just getting through more big rocks and slabs. Eventually, I reached the bottom of the gully and started to head up on scree.

Halfway up the gully, I realized I wasn’t actually in it. But instead, I was standing above a short wall to the climbers’ left. Using narrow ledges and decent handholds, I was able to get down to be back on track. By now, I was very low on energy. So the last 200′ on scree to the top felt like an eternity.

Access gully to reach the top
Access gully to reach the top

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Booker Mountain Summit Plus Views

It was a long way to up get to this summit! Right away, I looked over at the impressive Buckner Mountain, plus its dramatic Buckner Glacier on the east. The weather improved as the day progressed. The sun was out for the better part of the day. But on the horizon, the dark clouds were starting to form.

The views to the north and the east were better since they were sun-facing. The clouds had lowered in the other directions. As a result, most of the familiar high points were only partially visible. The views of Buckner Mountain, Storm King, and Goode Mountain were still excellent. But Sahale Peak and Boston Peak were starting to fade.

West-northwest panoramic view
West-northwest panoramic view

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Outro

I enjoyed a half-hour stay and then proceeded to head down the mountain. Since I’d get back to Cascade Pass after dark, I dillydallied my way out. It started to rain after I got back to the permanent snowfield. But glad that it only lasted 20 minutes.

The evening colors through the dark clouds were quite dramatic. Glad the landscape kept my mind off the slow climb back up to Sahale Camp.

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

See more trip photos here.

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