Mad Eagle Peak 8111 by Mount Redoubt in Chilliwacks / 狂鷹峯

  • Reading time:18 mins read

Mad Eagle Peak by Mount Redoubt in Chilliwacks sees a few, if any, visitors. Despite the plethora of taller peaks here, it ranks #9 in the Custer-Chilliwack Group. The standard route comes in from the north via Depot Creek and Lake Fork.

Mad Eagle Peak summit at last
Mad Eagle Peak summit at last

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Mad Eagle Peak at a Glance

Access: Depot Creek Road
Round Trip: 18 miles
Elevation Range: 2200′-8111′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

Final Peak of the Season

Mad Eagle Peak marked my fourth time through Canada this season. It was also my last mountain to reach this year’s goal. But after a while, crossing the border felt like another long walk in the park.

Nevertheless, I kept wondering about the peak last week. Given the early September snow, I thought I would have to wait another year. But the lack of recent snowfall made me decide to brave the freezing weather.

Minutes to sunrise
Minutes to sunrise

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Chilliwack Lake Road

Over the years, I had driven on many service roads in terrible shape. But this one indeed topped them all in my experience. On the previous trip, the SUV helped reduce the bumpiness significantly.

This time, we came in a compact car. So the drive down Chilliwack Lake was less than enjoyable than the times before. We averaged 5 to 10 mph while navigating through a sea of potholes.

Minutes to sunrise
Minutes to sunrise

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Friday Night Ritual

The 12-mile drive through the eastern lakeshore took us over an hour. It’s funny that Google Maps had an estimated 20 minutes. Driving in the dark also made going through this part unexciting.

We pulled off at the last fork before Depot Creek and slept. Then early the following day, we drove up the road a short distance and parked. The rough parts of the roadway weren’t too far ahead.

Breakfast on the go
Breakfast on the go

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Depot Creek Road to Depot Creek Crossing

The two reports I had came from Eric and Cascade Alpine Guide. But the location of the creek crossing was still unclear. We later turned north onto the gutted, rocky part of Depot Creek Trail at the end of the road.

A quick stop by the obelisk, we continued on US soil. The trail hasn’t changed much. We even went off route in the same places where I had lost the path before. Soon, we crossed Depot Creek by the start of the incline at 3200′. Snow patches also showed up here.

Depot Creek crossing
Depot Creek crossing

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Scree Gully Route

We crossed the shallow creek in two parts. Luckily, both times I found small logs to ford the water. Eric mentioned going through a boulder field at some point. The terrain was hard to discern from below. But I knew we had to avoid Lake Fork’s drainage.

After going through some annoying Devil’s club, we stumbled into a rock gully. It was a relief not to fight the brush. But at the top of the route was a headwall. So we moved east into the next drainage through thickets and down trees. Then, at last, the steep boulder field.

Scree work
Scree work

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Lake Fork Basin

At 4000′, we found patchy snow over the rocks. The traverse wasn’t bad, except that we needed to be extra mindful of the black ice. The terrain later expanded at 4400′, where we could see the route ahead. But it was still time-consuming going through the lower basin.

Going through the area between 4600′ and 5200′ took a while while I cussed the light snow over the rocks. We needed no snow for a smooth approach or enough not to step through the boulders. But we contended with the latter scenario.

Talus work
Talus work

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A Change in Plans

It was challenging to find a manageable way to the lake basin. By the time we reached the serene Lake Fork, we were ready to fall asleep. I saw the area of talus we still needed to cover before the southwest end of the water. So summiting today was highly unlikely.

I couldn’t find a flat camp spot, so we settled by the rocks north of the outlet. I wasn’t sure what to do before dark, so I decided to explore and lay down a boot path. En route, I saw a flat area by the outlet.

Lake Fork from the gully
Lake Fork from the gully

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Mad Eagle Peak Route Exploration

We went around the lake over snow and ice. The two reports in hand mentioned a route from Goliah Peak. So at first, we aimed for the Canuck-Goliah col. But as we neared the north ridge, I saw a steep gully to the left. So we went up to scope out the terrain there.

After seeing lots of ice higher in the gully, we went back down. This route wasn’t feasible this time of the year, but the lake view there was excellent. Once we reached the bottom, we went back to the outlet. Then I moved our gear over to the better spot. Tonight we slept under a starry sky.

Mad Eagle Peak dreams
Mad Eagle Peak dreams

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Mad Eagle Peak Glacier Route

It took forever to get ready in cold weather. But we managed to start walking at a quarter to six. There wasn’t much snow, so I left the snowshoes behind. Besides, the freezing temperatures would likely keep the snow firm. But too bad that I carried them all this way and did not use them.

Using our tracks from the evening before, we moved more quickly in the dark. This time we went up on Goliah Peak’s north ridge. Despite having no info on the glacier route, I decided to try it. Ankle-deep snow began at 6000′, and then I put on crampons at 6200′ with north views.

Some views
Some views

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Mad Eagle Peak North Saddle

We later went through snow and some ice while moving south. Then we bypassed the visible crevasses by hugging the east edge of the glacier. At 7200′, we went southeast up the steep terrain. Only a couple of short sections with ice needed extra attention.

The sun had been out for a while. But being on the north side, we couldn’t enjoy the sunshine sooner. Terrain eased up at a few hundred feet below the saddle. Then the first sun rays burst through the ridgeline. Finally! Soon, we had the first look at the big mountains of Chilliwack.

Chilliwack group from below Mad Eagle Peak
Chilliwack group from below Mad Eagle Peak

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Mad Eagle Peak Summit

We avoided the corniced ridgeline by moving on the west slopes. Soon, we came to a notch and dropped to the other side via a short, class 4 step. There was the view of West Depot Glacier. Then we slowly worked around the south side to the east of the summit tower.

The final scramble to the top was on exposed terrain. Snow had kept the rocks from sliding from under our feet and paws. So far, we’ve enjoyed views of Mount Redoubt. Hard to think that it was only half a mile away. Not sure if I ever saw Mad Eagle Peak from there a few years back.

Chilliwack group panoramic view
Chilliwack group panoramic view

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Gorgeous Views Abound

Amazing that the early season snow had slowed down the climbing a lot. But it never crossed my mind that we’d be here late in the year. We needed more weekends to work on my bucket list. Nonetheless, I’ve reached my goal for the season with this peak.

It was refreshing to see fresh snow on all the peaks. Of the Chilliwack lineup, only Mount Redoubt, Mount Spickard, and Mount Custer were visible. The sheer size of Mount Redoubt had made everything else tinier and farther than they appeared. It was surreal to see Chilliwack Lake also.

Chilliwack Lake from below Mad Eagle Peak
Chilliwack Lake from below Mad Eagle Peak

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Leaving Mad Eagle Peak

The stunning Picket Range, including Mount Challenger and Mount Terror, was immediately south. The majestic Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan were hard to miss. It’s my first wintry trip here, so some peaks were hard to discern. I couldn’t identify any Canadian peaks.

We needed to go down to the lake and leave this place. Soon, we retraced our steps back to the glacier. That put us right back in the shade. Burr! Surprisingly, it only took two hours to reach the campsite. Then we took an extended break and packed.

Lake Fork panoramic view
Lake Fork panoramic view

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Outro

For us, the climbing part wasn’t the crux but the vast talus below the lake. Since there wasn’t enough snow, microspikes would’ve worked out better than snowshoes. I slipped a few times en route.

Back in Canada, we somehow went past the trail fork and walked south at the next junction. But I was glad we didn’t need to go through the ruts again. Soon, we were back at the car after 1.5 more miles in the dark.

We're out
We’re out

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jefferson

    Nice work!

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