Mount Fury AKA West Fury / 亦稱西狂暴山的狂暴山

Mount Fury has been on my radar in recent years. But the remoteness has had me put it on hold until now. So it was back to the Northern Pickets after a visit to Liberty Cap on Mount Rainier.

Mount Fury from Luna Col
Mount Fury from Luna Col

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Mount Fury at a Glance

Access: Ross Dam Trailhead
Round Trip: 41 miles

Elevation Range: 1640′-8280′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax, rope
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Logistics Overview

July 30 – August 2, 2020

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Friday, July 31
Water taxi – Ross Dam to Big Beaver Campground
Big Beaver Trail to Luna Col

Night 1 – Luna Col

Day 2 – Saturday, August 1
Mount Fury (East Peak) + Mount Fury (West Fury)
Night 2 – Luna Col

Day 3 – Sunday, August 2
Water taxi – Big Beaver Campground to Ross Dam Trailhead


Day 1

Water Taxi + Big Beaver Trail + Access Basin

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Mount Fury

I had planned on climbing Mount Fury alone. But then on my drive to picking up a permit in Marblemount, I got a text from Chandler. He wanted to know if I had anything else to climb in the Pickets. It was shocking to hear since he has not wanted to backpack.

So after getting a permit for two for the weekend, I drove out to Concrete. Then I was able to call Chandler from there to firm up last-minute plans. It would also be his first real backpacking slash climbing outing. Exciting!

Will hustle for a joyride
Will hustle for a joyride

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Water Taxi to Big Beaver Campground

In the morning, I met up with Chandler at the Ross Dam Trailhead. Then we hiked one mile down to the dock. The earliest ride I could reserve was for 9:30 AM. But we didn’t see anyone else around when 8 AM neared. Then we called up the resort.

Lucky for us, the driver was available after a an earlier dropoff. So we took a short but scenic ride up to Big Beaver Campground. Our early arrival then gave us an extra hour of daylight. So we could potentially make it up to Luna Col before sundown.

See you on day three
See you on day three

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Big Beaver Trail

We got through the trail part with a few water breaks and lots of chattering. Along the way, we met a group of three climbers who had just come from Luna Col. Then we saw another hiker by a stream. There were also many baby frogs en route. Before long, we reached Luna Camp at mile 10.

We continued for another mile past the camp. Then we picked a random spot, left the trail, and plunged right into the brush. At the same time, we worked our way toward Big Beaver Creek.

Luna Camp
Luna Camp

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Big Beaver Creek

Just like the time before, devils club inundated much of the shoreline. So it was hard to see out to the water. But even with the GPS marking from my old trip, we could not locate the log jam. So we went further down the shore.

As luck would have it, there was another log jam 500′ downstream. The skinny down trees didn’t look familiar. But glad we could cross after all! Though, I kept wondering what had happened to the old crossing.

Big Beaver Creek in the AM
Big Beaver Creek in the AM

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Access Creek Trail

Shortly, we made our way back up north toward Access Creek. Then right around the creek bend was a much larger log jam. So that would be the one to take on the exit. Later we crossed Access Creek to the north side and scrambled.

Glad Chandler spotted the orange flagging that led us to the climbers’ trail. Otherwise, we would have spent even more time scrambling through the lower ridge. The pup and I did just that before. Later we lost the steep trail at 3400′ just as the terrain became moderate.

Luna Peak at last
Luna Peak at last

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Access Creek Basin

We scrambled through the semi-open forest for a while. Then Chandler spotted another piece of flagging that got us back on the faint trail. From there, we were within earshot of the Access Creek. The path later took us through dense slide alder by the water.

The trail forked at the 3850′ water crossing. But instead of making a left, we continued on the path for another 100′ before turning around. Then we took the left fork and found the real way to the south side of the creek. Soon, the looming Luna Peak above the basin came into view.

South gully
South gully

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Luna Peak Southeast Shoulder

Later we boulder hopped our way up the basin. Here, cairns strewed the rock field. But the various paths always stayed close to the creek. We also went through a small forest en route. Then we followed a faint path before moving south onto the snow-free gully.

The lower gully extended up through trees and short shrubs. It comprised mainly of rock ledges and ramps. But it steepened the higher we went, so it was slow going. Later the terrain transitioned into the scree. At the top of the ravine were also some snow patches. But we managed to skirt around to reach the crest at 6400′.

Southern Pickets at last
Southern Pickets at last

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Mount Fury via Luna Col

At last, we got our first look at the impressive Southern Picket Range. It was even more exciting to watch Chandler’s reaction. He had just seen the range up and close for the first time. We kept an altitude of 6400′ and rounded the corner onto the southern slopes. There was another impressive side of Luna Peak.

Then we spent the next mile sidestepping and slipping on grassy slopes. We were able to bypass most of the snow below the col. But as the rocks became less conducive to scrambling, we put on crampons and went straight uphill on snow. Later we climbed up through slabs to arrive at the 7200′ col.

Nearing sunset
Nearing sunset

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Night One on Luna Col

We reached the col earlier than expected. So we had plenty of time to scout out decent bivy spots and just relax. A tiny pool of snowmelt on the saddle provided enough water for the evening. Vibrant colors soon filled the western sky as the day came to an end.

Day two would be a long day. So I was glad to have made it up to the saddle on day one. So far, Chandler did great with the long approach. Since I brought a bivy sack, I let him have my mosquito net. The army of bloodthirsty mosquitoes continued to attack us through the night.

Mount Fury's dreams
Mount Fury’s dreams

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Day 2

Mount Fury (East Peak) + Mount Fury (West Fury)

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Point 7360

It looked like a bluebird day was ahead of us. We left camp bright and early at 6 AM with breakfast on the go. Soon as we dropped onto the glacier by Point 7360, we realized we were going the wrong way. So we doubled checked the route. Then we realized the red ledge went up around the high point.

After going back onto the col, we climbed up through boulders and reached the wide access ramp. From there, we went around the west of Point 7360′ and down to the meadow. Here we started seeing some cairns guiding the way. Later we went over another high point and dropped down the south side in a steep scree gully.

Red ledge around Point 7320
Red ledge around Point 7320

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The Crux Tower

I noticed the tower earlier during a quick rest. From the bottom of the scree gully, we stayed above the icy snowfield by hugging the buttresses. Then we proceeded to solo up the steep tower with a few low-fifth moves. I enjoyed moving through the downsloping granite rocks.

From the top of the tower, the way to reach the East Fury Glacier soon became apparent. I also noticed the snow ramp at 6600′ would give us direct access to the glacier. So we followed the ridgeline and went down the south side of the tower to continue.

Let the Mount Fury choir sing
Let the Mount Fury choir sing

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The Broad Basin by Mount Fury

We went through several outcrops before arriving at the 7000′ saddle. Then we went down on heather slopes to bypass the snowfield in the broad basin. There we filled up our bottles with snowmelt. But the closer we were to the 6600′ snow ramp, the steeper the terrain.

It took some acrobatic moves to go through the steep slopes. Then we took the snow ramp and rounded the buttress. Halfway up the snowfield, we saw a lone mountain goat watching us from a distance. Later we went up on continuous snow and reached the glacier.

Going around the buttress
Going around the buttress

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East Mount Fury Glacier

The steep terrain leveled from 7400′ to 7800′. Then we bypassed a couple of crevasses via solid snow bridges. Just above the gaps was the most painful part of the climb–steep ice! So we both stayed close to the headwall of Point 8280. Chandler dashed up. But it took me longer to reach the saddle.

Chandler proceeded to go up toward Point 8280, thinking it was East Fury. But then I quickly pointed at the arête on the other side and said, “Um, it’s that over there.” So he backtracked and walked around the saddle. Then he smoothly moved up the steep snow ridge.

Upper glacier
Upper glacier

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East Mount Fury

The snow arête took us straight up to the summit rocks. Then we went through some boulders and reached the top. Okay. So it was by far the best vantage point to view the Southern Pickets! We dropped our overnight gear here and read through the summit register entries before continuing.

Mount Fury (West Fury) looked pretty gnarly from this angle. I had a hard time identifying the individual towers mentioned in other reports. But our first task was to drop down west of the summit. Then we would proceed with the rest of the traverse below the connecting ridge.

East Mount Fury
East Mount Fury

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The Three Towers of Mount Fury

Later we went down onto the first saddle beyond the first group of outcrops. Then we realized that the headwall on the other side of the col was, in fact, the first tower. So to bypass it, we dropped down on the snow for 100′. Then we left the snow by the class 4 rock ramp.

We rounded the tower there. At the same time, we worked our way up through heather and slabs. Soon, we reached the notch between the first and second towers. There we located the south-bending, class 4 scree ramp. Then we went around the north of tower two.

Going around tower three pf Mount Fury
Going around tower three of Mount Fury

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Mount Fury Summit Ridge

The narrow ledge on the backside of tower two got us down to another steep scree ramp. We saw a rappel station en route. But we decided to get ourselves down to the notch via the exposed slabs. Soon, we were looking up at tower three from the col. Then we bypassed it from the north side with some low fifth class moves.

In turn, the route brought us onto the summit ridgeline. But we still had to go around a couple more pinnacles before seeing the real summit. So from the notch above the last snow ramp, we moved over to the north side. Then we scrambled on more terrible and loose rocks up to the higher notch.

The final stretch
The final stretch

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Mont Fury (West Fury) Summit

From the notch, we sidestepped through more downsloping slabs to reached the real summit. Whew! It took us 2.5 hours to come here from East Mount Fury. It was exhausting to say the least. But hello, the views! This high point was by far one of the remote places I have ever been to in the Cascades.

It was worth every bit of sweat and cursing. Though, East Mount Fury still had a more magnificent view of the Southern Pickets. But we got a closer look at the rest of the Northern Pickets here. They included Mount Challenger, Crooked Thumb Peak, and Phantom Peak.

Southern panoramic view on Moury Fury (West Fury)
Southern panoramic view on Moury Fury (West Fury)

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Outro

We didn’t spend as much time on top as I had wanted. But we still had to make the long way back to Luna Col through East Mount Fury. I stayed behind for another 10 minutes to take more photos. Then later, I caught up to Chandler above the snow ramp.

From there, we reversed our route. But instead of going around tower one, this time, we climbed up to the top. Then we found the mentioned rappel station mentioned on the eastside. It looked sketchier to me than it did for Chandler. But if others had gone down this way, it must have been okay, I guess?

Western panoramic view on Moury Fury (West Fury)
Western panoramic view on Moury Fury (West Fury)

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East Mount Fury and Out

It took one 60m rappel, just barely reaching the top of the steep snow. Then we alternated between rocks and snowfields. But putting on crampons and taking them off became old very fast. Chandler went up using our track. But I took the lower way so that I could bypass most snow.

We didn’t linger long back on East Mount Fury. So we went down the snow arête right after fetching our overnight gear from the summit. Now came the excruciating part of the exit–steep ice! My left heel has bothered me all day. So that plus my lack of passion for snow, it took forever to get through this section.

East Mount Fury
East Mount Fury

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Back to Luna Col

I wanted to go back to Luna Col even if it was about to go dark. Though, I wasn’t sure how Chandler would feel about making that push. But when he said he wanted to go back to camp if we could, I was all for the idea! After meeting back up in the broad basin, we proceeded to head out at dusk.

We ended up downclimbing the crux tower in the dark. But it didn’t pose any issues. Though, going back up the first steep scree gully was exhausting. Glad it was only 150′ to go up to the ridge bump. Later we stumbled our way back to camp. To our surprise, there were three new tents on the saddle.

At day's end
At day’s end

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Day 3

Access Basin + Big Beaver Trail + Water Taxi

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Back to Access Creek Basin

People in the tents got up relatively early. Then they left the col after some loud talking. Chandler and I packed up afterward and stated going down at 6:30 AM. I didn’t want to deal with any more snow today. So we managed to find ways to go around all of it.

Before long, we were on the southeast shoulder, looking down from the top of the gully. The morning fog in the valleys below created a mystic landscape. Alas, a final look at the Southern Pickets, and we made our way down to the basin.

Leaving Access Basin
Leaving Access Basin

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Back to Big Beaver Trail

We found parts of the trail we had missed on day one. But we lost the path again just before crossing Access Creek to the south side. Then we scrambled some more to reach the more massive log jam.

This time, we crossed the creek with much less effort. Then on the other side, we fought through more devils club and then reached the trail. Chandler was way very excited about going back on a maintained path.

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

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Back to Ross Lake and Out

The pain in my left heel persisted. The approach shoes exasperated the discomfort even more. So the 11 miles out to the dock took much longer. But I asked Chandler to go ahead of me. That way, I could take my sweet time.

In the end, I was 10 minutes late for the water taxi pickup. But ironically, the boat was also late to get us. A short break by the serene lake, then we went on our merry way back toward the dam. Then there was the mile hike up to Highway 20, ugh.

Leaving Big Beaver Campground
Leaving Big Beaver Campground

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Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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