Porcupine Peak by Cutthroat Peak via Rainy Pass + PCT North / 豪豬峯

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Happy Seattle Pride weekend! Porcupine Peak by Cutthroat Peak is just off Rainy Pass. One can directly view the peak’s striking north face from Mount Hardy. Best of all, the standard east route is readily accessible via Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

Porcupine Peak east basin
Porcupine Peak east basin

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Porcupine Peak at a Glance

Access: Pacific Crest Trail North @ Rainy Pass
Round Trip: 8 miles
Elevation Range: 4840′-7762′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax
Route Info: Matt Burton
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Porcupine Peak by Rainy Pass

Mr. Connor was nursing a cut on his paw at boarding. So Mr. Cody and I spent the record-hot weekend over on Rainy Pass. But instead of backpacking in the hot weather, I opted for two one-day trips.

I’ve driven past Porcupine Peak and gazed at it many times. But I didn’t know the name of this high point until recently. Though, I vividly remember seeing it en route to Snowy Lakes in 2014.

This way to Porcupine Peak
This way to Porcupine Peak

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PCT Northbound

The snow berm by the Road 600 stop sign hasn’t melted completely. So vehicles continued to line up off the road. I parked by the turnoff as well. Then we walked a quarter of a mile to the trailhead.

It’s been seven years since we first set foot on this portion of the PCT. Coincidentally, back then, it was just the yellow pup and me as well. We stepped over some down trees before the first switchback.

Seeing Black Peak
Seeing Black Peak

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Water Crossings

Soon, we crossed two streams en route to Porcupine Creek. The water level must be higher this year since we couldn’t go through without fording. Not wanting to wet the boots, we went 150′ upstream and found a small log.

Later we went over the second stream at 100′ uphill, where it narrowed. Then Porcupine Creek was the toughest one to cross. So we walked along the raging water for a while before finding two small logs at 300′ upstream.

The raging Porcupine Creek
The raging Porcupine Creek

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Porcupine Peak East Route

I couldn’t find detailed descriptions of the west ridge route. So we went up via the east basin as several other groups did. The Cascade Alpine Guide mentioned this route as well; it was our best option.

The class 4 crux climbers mentioned was my only concern. So it meant that the dog would need to stay put at some point. But I knew he’d be more than happy to nap and wait for me to return.

On a cutthroat mission
On a cutthroat mission

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Through the East Basin

We found the PCT shortly past Porcupine Creek. Then walked up to 5700′:before leaving the trail. Then after 200′ of uphill scrambling through the open forest, we went out into the clearing.

Other parties went up into the east basin by following the drainage. But we shortcut west from the edge of the trees before the waterfall. Then higher up, we avoided the boulders by sticking to the grass.

Aiming for the upper snowfield
Aiming for the upper snowfield

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Porcupine Peak 7480′ South Saddle

Soon, we were up on the lower snowfield with a mild incline. Then up ahead at 7000′ was a cliff band separating the two snowfields. I constantly listened for running water underneath now that the snow was thinning.

To reach the upper field, we used the sandy paths next to the water cliffs. The top snowfield was steeper but manageable with just crampons. Before long, we were on the saddle and looking west.

West view from the south saddle
West view from the south saddle

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South Ridge Traverse Plus Class 4 Crux

From the saddle, we stayed east of the crest and scrambled up to a notch. There I had a close view of the steep snow ramp I saw from below earlier. But we bypassed it by going up to the ridgeline.

Soon, we reached the high point below the summit. Then we downclimbed a few feet on the other side to a notch above a steep gully. The pup stopped here as I went up the narrow ramp using solid holds.

Porcupine Peak crux
Porcupine Peak crux

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Porcupine Peak Summit Views

The terrain eased just past the ramp. Then a short class 3 scramble took me up to the bouldered summit. It was a hot day, so the 77 degrees on top made me want to stay. Alas, the pup awaited my return.

To the west, the unmistakable shape of Corteo Peak stood out the most. The sandy color on Mount Hardy, Golden Horn, Tower Mountain, and The Needles was also quite distinct. But as usual, too many mountains to name!

Northeastern panoramic view
Northeastern panoramic view

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Outro

I brought a rope along in case I needed to rappel off the top. But the ramp was manageable when going in reverse. Later I joined the pup and then retraced our steps. Meanwhile, a glider came out of nowhere and swirled over our heads.

The water level had raised in the afternoon. The logs I used to cross Porcupine Creek were now underwater. So we had to ford the creek by the trail. Later we walked through the first two streams as well.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

See more trip photos here.