Mad Eagle Peak in Chilliwacks / 奇利瓦克裏的狂鷹峯

Mad Eagle Peak was my fourth trip through Canada this season. It was also my last mountain to reach my goal this year. Given the early September snow, I thought I would have to wait. But the lack of recent snowfall made me decide to brave the freezing weather. I kept thinking about the peak during last week’s outing.

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

Chilliwack Lake Road

Over the years, I had driven on many service roads in terrible shape. But this one indeed topped them all. On my last trip, the SUV helped to reduce the bumpiness tremendously. But this time in a low-clearance vehicle, the approach was less than enjoyable. The car averaged 5 to 10 mph through a sea of potholes.

The 12-mile drive through the eastern lakeshore ended up taking over an hour. Funny that Google Maps had an estimated 20 minutes. We pulled off at the last fork before Depot Creek and slept. Then early the next morning, we drove up the road a short distance and parked. The rough parts of the roadway weren’t too far ahead.

Minutes to sunrise
Minutes to sunrise

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Depot Creek Road to Depot Creek Crossing

The two reports I had were from Eric and Beckey’s Cascade Alpine Guide. But the location of the creek crossing was still unclear to me. So we would need to wait and see. At the end of the road, we turned north onto the gutted and rocky Depot Creek Trail. Though, on the way out, we would discover a better way. The path became decent again after it veered right.

After a quick stop by the obelisk, we then stepped back into the US soil and continued hiking. The trail looked very much the same as before. We even got off route in the exact places where I had previously lost the path. In the flat area, right before going up the hill, I knew it was time to cross the creek. Patchy snow began to appear here.

Depot Creek crossing
Depot Creek crossing

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Scree Gully Approach

At 3200′, we crossed the shallow creek in two parts. Luckily, both times I found small logs to ford the water. Eric mentioned climbing up through a boulder field at some point. That, in turn, would bypass the brush. The only thing was that the terrain was hard to discern from below. But I knew we had to avoid Lake Fork’s drainage.

After getting through some annoying Devil’s club, we stumbled into a rock gully. It was such a relief to know that we wouldn’t have to bushwhack much. At the top of the route was a headwall. So through some brush and down trees, we moved east into the adjacent drainage. There we finally saw the steep boulder field.

Scree work
Scree work

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Lake Fork Basin

At 4000′, we encountered patchy snow over the rocks. The traverse wasn’t terrible. But we needed to be extra mindful after seeing the black ice. The terrain opened up at 4400′ where we could see the route ahead. But it was still time-consuming in getting through the lower basin.

The section from 4600′ to 5200′ took us a while to get through. I had been cussing the low snow coverage over the rocks. We needed either zero snow for a smooth approach, or enough snow not to punch through the big boulders. But unfortunately, we had to fight the latter scenario.

Talus work
Talus work

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A Change in Plans

It was impossible to find an easy way up to the lake basin. By the time we got to the serene Lake Fork, we were both ready to sleep. I saw the amount of talus we still needed to get through to the southwest end of the water. So I highly doubted that we would summit today. There were still no signs of Mad Eagle Peak.

I couldn’t find a flat spot to set up camp. So we settled down by the rocks north of the outlet. I wasn’t sure what we’d do before darkness arrived. I couldn’t find a GPS track for the trip. So I decided to explore the route and set a boot path in the snow. As we walked by the outlet, I saw a flat area next to the water.

Lake Fork from the gully
Lake Fork from the gully

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Mad Eagle Peak Route Exploration

We carefully went around the lake over snow and ice. Both reports in hand mentioned the approach from Goliah Peak. So we had aimed for the Canuck-Goliah col. But as we approached the north ridgeline coming off of the peak, I saw a steep gully to our left. So we went up there to scope out the terrain.

After finding lots of ice higher up in the gully, we went right back down. This route wasn’t feasible at this time of the year. The view of the lake was excellent. Once we reached the bottom, we went right back to the outlet. Then I moved our gear over to the new campsite. Tonight we slept under a starry sky.

Mad Eagle Peak dreams
Mad Eagle Peak dreams

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Glacier Approach

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. Plus, the freezing temperatures would most likely keep the snow firm for a while. Too bad that I carried them all this way and ended up not using them.

Using the tracks we made the evening before, we were able to move more quickly in the dark. This time we went up on the north ridge of Goliah Peak. Since I couldn’t find information on the glacier approach, I wanted to try out the direct route. Ankle-deep snow began at 6000′. Then I put on crampons at 6200′ with views to the north.

Some views
Some views

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Mad Eagle Peak North Saddle

We continued to go through snow and some ice while traveling south. Then we bypassed a few crevasses by staying close to the eastern edge of the glacier. At 7200′, we went southeast and up the steep terrain on snow mostly. A couple of short sections with ice needed extra attention.

The sun had been out for a while. But being on the north side of the mountain, we didn’t get to enjoy the sunshine sooner. Terrain eased up at a couple of hundred feet below the saddle. There we saw the first sun rays bursting through the ridgeline. Finally! Soon, we got our first view of 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 at Last

Following the steep north ridge, we avoided the corniced ridgeline by staying on the western slopes. Soon, we came upon a notch and descended the other side on a short class 4 terrain. There I got an impressive view of the West Depot Glacier. Then we carefully worked our way around the south side to the east of the summit block.

The final scramble up to the top was a bit exposed. The snow had kept most of the rocks from sliding from under our feet and paws. Up until now, we’ve enjoyed views of Mount Redoubt. Hard to believe that the mountain was just half a mile away. I wasn’t sure if I saw Mad Eagle Peak from that summit a few years back.

Chilliwack group panoramic view
Chilliwack group panoramic view

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Gorgeous Weather Views Abound

It’s amazing how the early season snow could significantly slow down the climbing. Coming here late in the year certainly had not crossed my mind. Unfortunately, there were not enough weekends to fit in all the peaks I needed. Though, with this high point, I’ve reached the goal I set for this season.

Seeing fresh snow on all the peaks was breathtaking. Of the entire Chilliwack lineup, only Mount Redoubt, Mount Spickard, and Mount Custer were visible. The sheer size of Mount Redoubt made other high points look tiny and farther than they appeared. It was surreal to see Chilliwack Lake from the top.

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 in the not-too-distant south. The majestic Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan were also hard to miss. It’s my first time seeing the wintry scenery from up here, so some peaks were hard to discern. The many high points included the ones in Canada.

We still needed to go down to the lake and pack. So the pup and I retraced our steps back down on steep terrain and quickly got back to the glacier. But sadly, we were once again back in the shade. Burr! Surprisingly, it only took us two hours to reach the campsite. Then we took an extended break while packing.

Lake Fork panoramic view
Lake Fork panoramic view

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Outro

For us, the climbing portion was not the real crux on this trip. It was, in fact, the never-ending talus field below the lake basin. In hindsight, microspikes would’ve come in very handy through that long and tedious part. Without enough snow, snowshoes wouldn’t do us any good. I slipped a few times on the way down.

Back on the service road in Canada, we somehow missed the trail junction. So at the next fork not far ahead, we walked southbound on a different path. I didn’t know about this way from my two previous visits. But I was glad not to have to hike the rutted route on the way out. Another 1.5 miles, and we’re back at the car!

We're out
We’re out

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jefferson

    Nice work!

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