Bearcat Ridge by Emerald Peak / 靠翡翠峯的熊狸脊

Bearcat Ridge the merciful one
Bearcat Ridge the merciful one

See more trip photos here.

After a successful trip to The Temple last weekend, this week I was back in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Last summer, the pup and I went climbing Buckskin Mountain in the Entiat Meadows. Bearcat Ridge was also on the itinerary back then. But on day two, we hiked out on what felt like the hottest weekend in July. So I decided to save the climb for another day.

The Lowdown on Bearcat Ridge

Access: Entiat River Trailhead
Round Trip: 27 miles
Elevation Range: 3160′-7960′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

Entiat River Trail

This trip was our third time hiking on the Entiat River Trail. The first time was two years ago when we climbed Choral Slam via Anthem Creek. We started walking at 5:15 AM in the hope of getting to camp on Milham Pass at a decent hour. So we could attempt the summit on day one. Besides, it was going to rain starting in the morning of day two.

After crossing Snow Brushy Creek, we hiked for another mile. We somehow missed the junction. So after backtracking a short distance, we followed a footpath up the gentle slopes. Eventually, we reconnected with the official trail and made our way up the drainage. Despite the fires in recent years, the path was in decent shape.

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

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Milham Pass

Upon entering the valley dispersed with charred trees, Saska Peak was the first to come into view. I first mistook it for Gopher Mountain until we were farther up in the drainage. The trail eventually dwindled as we hiked past the Borealis Pass junction. Shortly afterward, a couple of deer hunters waved at us from behind their hut. I waved back and then continued toward Milham Pass.

Valley views gradually faded higher up. Once we arrived on the woodsy pass at 6663′, with views to the northeast through a small opening. My goal for this trip was to climb Bearcat Ridge on day one if time allowed. That way we could avoid the rainfall on day two. After setting up the tent, I decided to go for it. But I hoped to come back to camp before dark.

Emerald Park Creek Basin
Emerald Park Creek Basin

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Pass 7316

Only the west ridge was visible from the pass. But the real high point of Bearcat Ridge was still in hiding. We first descended 600′ into the head of the lush Emerald Park Creek Basin. Then we left the trail at 6000′ and began the traverse through a large talus field. Before long, we were at the bottom of the west-trending gully off Pass 7316.

Getting up in the broad terrain took some time. We stayed on the right and avoided walking through the scree whenever possible. Higher up, I noticed the gully Eric mentioned in his report. It looked inviting, so I could see why one would attempt to go up that way. Instead, we veered southeast and slowly made it up to the pass. Views of Cardinal Peak and Emerald Peak were excellent.

The broad Pass 7316
The broad Pass 7316

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Bearcat Ridge Climb

The pass was sandy and very broad. It looked like an excellent place to camp. But without any water sources nearby, it wouldn’t be feasible to spend the night up here. A snack break, then we dropped down onto the south slopes to 7200′. After a short traverse through rocks and trees, a deep ravine stopped us at our tracks. So we downclimbed to 7000′ to get around a buttress.

I wanted to avoid crossing the ridge through gendarmes by staying low since the pup was with me. The south gully on the map looked possible to bypass the cliffs. So we made a rising traverse up to 7200′ to arrive at the bottom of the entrance. From there, the route became more apparent. The steep slabs were somewhat damp from the night before.

Steep climbing on slabs
Steep climbing on slabs

See more trip photos here.

Bearcat Ridge Summit

We took our time getting up solid rocks. Eventually, the steep terrain forced us onto the south ridge. Then we pretty much followed the ridgeline up to the summit block. To bypass more cliffs, the pup and I moved toward the east ridge. Then we swung back west and got right below the summit. A quick, class 4 climb on the southern slope, and then we were up on top.

As luck would have it, it started to rain just as we settled in. It had been cloudy all afternoon. So the tips of the nearby top 100 peaks were all in the clouds. Views to the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness area were much better. Luckily, after 10 minutes of staying, the clouds started to move around. Then Saska Peak, Emerald Pea, and Cardinal Peak were finally visible.

South panoramic view
South panoramic view

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Back to Milham Pass

From the top, I also saw Cloudcomb Peak, Squaretop Mountain, and Pyramid Mountain. The pup and I climbed them last year in mid-October. The rain stopped just as we were leaving the summit. Excellent timing! We quickly made it back down the steep terrain and out through the slabby south gully. On the way back to Pass 7316, we stayed low until we bypassed the deep ravine.

Then from the pass, we reversed our route back down to the Emerald Park Creek Basin. Then we quickly traversed the talus westward. Just then, I remembered we had gone over a stream flowing out of the old moraine on the way in. So en route to camp, we stopped by the water and filled up the water reservoir for overnight use.

En route back to camp
En route back to camp

See more trip photos here.

The Rainy Outro

Just as the weather forecast had predicted, it began raining at the wee hour of the morning. So glad we had climbed the ridge on day one. Otherwise, we would’ve had to give up the plan and turn around. We took several naps in the tent while waiting out the rain. Eventually, the rain stopped in the late morning, and so we were able to get outside.

After packing up all of our wet gear, we then began the long hike out through Snow Brushy Creek Basin. We stopped by the hut to chat with the hunters before the Borealis Pass junction. They were curious about the ice ax, thinking that it was a gun at first. I told them about our climb up to Bearcat Ridge over a quick conversation. Then we proceeded to make our way back down to the Entiat River Trail and out to the trailhead.

Leaving Snow Brushy Basin
Leaving Snow Brushy Basin

See more trip photos here.

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