Booker Mountain by Mount Buckner + Sahale Arm + Cascade Pass / 布克山

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Booker Mountain by Mount Buckner is the highest point on Park Creek Ridge. It sports a long, smooth ridgeline south of Goode Mountain. So the indistinct peak isn’t always easy to pick out of the plethora of North Cascades ridgelines.

Booker Mountain summit up ahead
Booker Mountain summit up ahead

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Booker Mountain at a Glance

Access: Cascade Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: 22 miles
Elevation Range: 3480′-8286′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

The Preface

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

My third time going through Cascade Pass this year was as unexciting as the previous trip. The weather also looked just as iffy this time. But I kept my fingers crossed for the sunny forecast to stay as-is.

Another misty start
Another misty start

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Cascade Pass Trailhead to Sahale Arm

The sky looked to be clearing on the pass. Then I briefly chatted with a retired forest service worker before going south on the trail. Soon as I stowed my gear and food for the next two days, it went back to cloudy again.

The sky opened up as I went up the switchbacks. It was my first time back since the Boston Peak trip. Shortly, I met a group who warned me about a bear nearby. Sure enough, it showed up on the trail and went down the path after seeing me.

Food gatherer
Food gatherer

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Sahale Arm to Horseshoe Basin

Views up here were always spectacular. The hike up Sahale Arm gave views of Eldorado Peak and Forbidden Peak. Soon, the Ptarmigan Traverse lineup showed up in the south. Several groups were hanging out by Sahale camp.

I walked past the joyful crowd and soon made my way to Sahale Glacier’s east end. I quickly went down Sahale Peak’s south buttress to the snow-free gully at 6600′. Then it took me 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 to 6600′ Buttress Bypass

I remembered the beautiful slabs here well. Soon, I moved east through downward rocks slick from the snowmelt and the waterfalls. Meanwhile, I stayed between 6400′ and 6600′ and looked for the buttress bypass ahead.

I vividly recalled the tedious traverse through the broad basin to Mount Buckner. But even my third time through the same terrain was still slow going. Before long, I had gone over talus up to the bypass.

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

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Steep Rock Gully to Book Mountain

After rounding the buttress, the north-facing rock gully awaited. Glad most boulders were stable as I hugged left to avoid potential rockfalls. The terrain later flattened at 7000′ with a stream rushing out of the permanent snow.

Shortly, I walked up the snow using Eric‘s descriptions and crossed the field at 7200’ to go south. After more rocks and heather, I reached the south-trending ridge west of the mountain. Then I looked into the next basin as the summit loomed ahead.

Permanent snowfield
Permanent snowfield

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The Final Stretch on Booker Mountain

From the ridge at 7000′, a dirt ramp took me into the basin. But without snow, it took a while to go past the moraine. Then it was weaving my way over more big rocks, plus more slabs. At last, I walked up the scree in the gully.

Halfway up, I realized I was above a short wall to the west of the route. So with narrow ledges and holds, I worked my way into the gully to be on track again. I was low on energy by then, and the final 200′ of scree felt like a long time.

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

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Booker Mountain Summit Views

It was a long way to come here! I looked over at the majestic Buckner Mountain and its stunning Buckner Glacier. The sun was out most o the day but with dark clouds forming over the horizon.

The north and the east were sun-facing with better views. But most southern high points were partly visible. Buckner Mountain, Storm King, and Goode Mountain looked sublime as Sahale Peak and Boston Peak slowly faded.

West-northwest panoramic view
West-northwest panoramic view

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Outro

I enjoyed a half-hour visit and then made my way off the mountain. Since I’d return to Cascade Pass after dark, I dillydallied my way out. The rain later came back at the snowfield but only lasted half an hour.

The dramatic evening colors had shone through the dark clouds. Meanwhile, the landscape kept my mind off the slow climb back to Sahale Camp. It was dead silent except for my boots shuffling, nearing the day’s end.

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

See more trip photos here.

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