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 also 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.

Most of my peaks on my list were now standalone. So it was tough to decide. Both mountains were inside the North Cascades National Park boundary, and neither one was my dog-friendly. So I was okay with not having him.

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

Booker Mountain is the highest point on Park Creek Ridge. It boasts a flat and long summit ridge. So it’s not as to pick it out of the plethora of North Cascades ridgelines. But I knew I would have seen it from Goode Mountain. I just started paying attention to the mountain this year.

This trip was my third time going through Cascade Pass this year. So it was just as unexciting as our last outing. The weather also looked iffy like before. So I kept my fingers crossed for the sunny forecast ahead.

Another misty start
Another misty start

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Cascade Pass Trailhead to Sahale Arm

The hike up to Cascade Pass went by fast. From the pass, the sky seemed 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 cleared up as I went through the switchbacks above the pass. The last time I was here, I went climbing with a friend. Afterward, a group warned me about a bear nearby. Sure enough, it came out onto the trail just as I went above the trees. It then continued 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 easy hike up the Arm gave views of Eldorado Peak and Forbidden Peak to the northwest. Soon, the entire lineup of the Ptarmigan Traverse was right behind me to the south. Several groups were hanging out up by Sahale Camp.

I hiked past the joyful crowd and then made my way toward the eastern edge of Sahale Glacier. Soon, I was going down on the buttress extending from Sahale Peak. Then at 6600′, I found the snow-free gully and made my way down 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

The basin was how I remembered it–full of beautiful slabs. I stayed between 6400′ and 6600′ elevation as I moved east. The downsloping rocks were slippery from the snowmelt and the waterfalls. Meanwhile, I kept staring at the buttress bypass ahead.

I vividly remembered the arduous traverse to get up to Buckner Mountain. This basin sure was broad! Since it’s my third time here, I thought I would go through it quickly. But rotating between slabs, moraine, and heather slopes slowed things down a bit. Then 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

After rounding the buttress, the north-trending rock gully awaited. Glad most boulders here were stable to keep a steady pace. I also stayed close to the left to avoid potential rockfalls. Soon, the terrain flattened at 7000′. There was also a stream rushing out of the permanent snowfield.

Afterward, I followed Eric‘s report and hiked up the snow to 7200’. Then I crossed the field and went south. The goal was to go up to the south-trending ridgeline west of Booker Mountain. So after going through more rocks and heather, I was now looking into the next basin. The mountain loomed in the distance.

Permanent snowfield
Permanent snowfield

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The Final Stretch on Booker Mountain

From the ridge at 7000′, I found a dirt ramp. Then I used it to go down into the basin. But without snow, it took some time to go past the moraine. Beyond there, it was just weaving my way through more big rocks and slabs. At last, I came up to the bottom of the gully. Then I went up on the scree.

Halfway up the gully, I realized I wasn’t really in it. Instead, I was standing above a short wall to the left. Using narrow ledges and solid holds, I worked my way back into the gully. So now, I was on track once again. By then, I was low on energy. So it felt like taking forever to get through the last 200′ of scree.

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 go up to this summit! Right away, I looked over at the majestic Buckner Mountain and its impressive Buckner Glacier. The sun was out for the better part of the day. But the dark clouds were starting to form over the horizon.

The north and the east were sun-facing. So the views were better. But most of the high points to the south were just partly visible. Buckner Mountain, Storm King, and Goode Mountain looked sublime. 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 summit time. Then I made my way down the mountain. I knew I would go back to Cascade Pass after dark. So I dillydallied my way out of the area. Once I went back to the snowfield, it then began to rain. But that only lasted half an hour.

The evening colors through the dark clouds were quite dramatic. Glad the landscape could keep 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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