Bearcat Ridge by Emerald Peak and Cardinal Peak + Entiat River / 熊狸脊

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Bearcat Ridge shares a short ridgeline with Emerald Peak in Chelan Mountains. Sitting slightly below 8000′ has kept the high point out of the top ten peaks in North Chelan Mountains. The closeness to Lake Chelan also provides more route options to this obscure ridgeline.

Bearcat Ridge above Emerald Park
Bearcat Ridge above Emerald Park

See more trip photos here.

Bearcat Ridge at a Glance

Access: Entiat River Trailhead
Round Trip: 27 miles
Elevation Range: 3160′-7960′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

The Preface

I had a successful trip to The Enchantments last week. Then this weekend, the pup and I went tackling Bearcat Ridge in North Chelan Mountains. The obscure high point sits among some of Washington State’s highest peaks.

I had wanted to climb Bearcat Ridge last summer, the same weekend we visited Buckskin Mountain. But the warm July weather on day two was unbearable. So I decided to delay the climb for another day.

Entering Glacier Peak Wilderness
Entering Glacier Peak Wilderness

See more trip photos here.

Entiat River Trail

It was our third time on the trail. The first time was when we visited Choral Peak via Anthem Creek Two years ago. We started at 5:15 AM, hoping to reach Milham Pass early. So we could climb the peak to avoid the rainy forecast on day two.

After crossing Snow Brushy Creek, we had somehow missed the fork. So we backtracked one mile, followed boot tracks up the gentle slopes, and soon rejoined the trail. Despite the fires in recent years, the path was still decent.

The first sighting of South Spectacle Butte
The first sighting of South Spectacle Butte

See more trip photos here.

En Route to Milham Pass

After entering the valley dispersed with charred trees, Saska Peak was the first to show. At first, I thought it was Gopher Mountain. The trail faded soon past the fork to Borealis Pass. Then two deer hunters waved from behind their hut; I waved back and continued.

Valley view faded on the woodsy pass at 6663′. But there, we looked to the northeast through the trees. I wanted to avoid day two’s rain by using the rest of today to climb. So we left after first setting up the tent in case we came back after dark.

Emerald Park Creek Basin
Emerald Park Creek Basin

See more trip photos here.

Getting to Pass 7316

Bearcat Ridge’s west ridge was visible from the pass, but the actual peak was still in hiding. Soon, we first dropped 600′ into the top of the lush Emerald Park Creek Basin. Then we left the trail at 6000′ and traversed a broad rock field. Before long, we were by the west gully off Pass 7316.

We went up the steep terrain while staying south to avoid the scree. Higher up, I saw the gully Eric noted in his report. I could see why it would entice one to go that way. Instead, we veered southeast up to the pass with Cardinal Peak and Emerald Peak views.

The broad Pass 7316
The broad Pass 7316

See more trip photos here.

Bearcat Ridge Climb

The sandy pass was broad and a great place to camp but no water. We dropped onto the south slopes to 7200′. Then we traversed east through rocks and trees before a deep ravine. From there, we downclimbed to 7000′ to gr around the cliffs.

Since I had the pup, I wanted to avoid the jagged ridgeline by staying low. The south gully looked doable on the map, so we made a rising traverse to the entrance at 7200′. The route looked apparent but with steep slabs damp from the night before.

Bearcat Ridge south gully
Bearcat Ridge south gully

See more trip photos here.

Bearcat Ridge Summit Rain

We slowly went up the slabs until the steep terrain forced us onto the south ridge. We avoided the cliffs en route by moving east briefly. Then we swung west through a brief section of class 4 steps on the south to reach the top.

As luck would have it, it rained right then. It had been a cloudy afternoon, so the top of the nearby peaks was in the mists. But the view to Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness was open. Later, clouds shifted to reveal Saska Peak, Emerald Peak, and Cardinal Peak.

South panoramic view
South panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Back to Milham Pass

I also saw Cloudcomb Peak, Squaretop Mountain, and Pyramid Mountain we climbed last October. The rain stopped as we were leaving the top; what great timing! Before long, we were on the way back to Pass 7316. En route, we stayed low to avoid the deep ravine.

We retraced our steps down to Emerald Park and went through the talus field from the pass. I vaguely remembered seeing a stream in the old moraine. So en route back to camp, we stopped to fill up the water pouch for the night.

Mirror Mountain and Peak 7738 behind the west gully
Mirror Mountain and Peak 7738 behind the west gully

See more trip photos here.

The Rainy Outro

It rained at the wee hour as in the forecast. Then we took naps in the tent until the rain stopped late morning to start moving. So glad we had climbed on day one; otherwise, we would’ve turned around.

We packed up all the wet gear and made the long trek through Snow Brushy Creek Basin. Later, we chatted with the hunters before Borealis Pass Trail. They asked about the ice ax, thinking it was a gun at first.

Soon, we made our way back to Entiat River Trail and out to the car.

Finding our way home
in Snow Brushy Basin
Finding our way home in Snowy Brush Basin

See more trip photos here.

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