The Cradle by Nursery Peak via Paddy-Go-Easy Pass / 搖籃山

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The Cradle by Nursery Peak is a prominent mountain with a double summit. Its height makes it visible from nearly every high point in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Though tedious, Paddy-Go-Easy Pass is often the preferred way to reach the peak.

Bidding farewell to The Cradle
Bidding farewell to The Cradle

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The Cradle at a Glance

Access: Paddy-Go-Easy Pass Trailhead
Round Trip: 12.2 miles
Elevation Range: 3660′-7467′
Gear: helmet
Route Info: Gimpilator
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

The Preface on The Cradle

The Cradle marked my final high point on Wenatchee Mountains Top 100. Because of the crux, the dogs couldn’t join me on top. But kudos to them for having gone through the most tiresome part of the climb.

It’s still up for debate as to which of the two summits is higher. But most would likely settle for the less challenging south peak. The late black lab, the yellow pup (then two years old), and I did just that nine years ago.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Alpine Lakes Wilderness

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Paddy-Go-Easy Trail

Yellow pup and I climbed the two peaks south of the pass and exited this trail the last time. Like before, down trees had strewn the lower forest. But it looked like more of them had fallen since then.

We hiked over several streams and dead trees until they faded. Then we went up the short switchbacks that offset the steady altitude gain. Meanwhile, views of Goat Mountain and Hawkins Mountain appeared behind us.

Cle Elum River Valley
Cle Elum River Valley

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From Paddy-Go-Easy Pass to The Cradle

Later we reached the 6100′ pass in under three miles. Then The Cradle came into view for the first time. We took a break there to marvel at the sheer size of the mountain. It’s nice and quiet as it’s still early in the day.

Before long, we were walking down the other side of the pass. Like the time before, we needed to drop 1200′ first. Then we would access the mountain’s southwest flank via the top of French Creek.

The Cradle from Paddy-Go-Easy Pass
The Cradle from Paddy-Go-Easy Pass

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Accessing the Mountain

We stopped for water in the meadow not far below the pass. Then from the 4900′ junction, we took the Meadow Creek Trail and crossed French Creek shortly. Soon, in half a mile, we left the path by the clearing and moved northeast.

My GPS track from our first trip showed that we hugged the west end of the slide alder. There we followed a hidden path for a short distance through the thickets. Then that got us back into the clearing.

French Creek in the AM
French Creek in the AM

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The Cradle Southwest Slopes

Soon, we bypassed the next batch of the slide alder via a wide opening. Beyond the brush was open terrain, where it steepened as we went up along a narrow gully. There I could see the south ridge towering above.

Higher up, the tall shrubs dwindled and gave way to the grassy, rocky ground. Then the final 600′ up to the ridgeline was pure choss. There the rock ledges provided some relief through the tedious part.

This way to salvation
This way to salvation

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Southeast Basin

A cairn marked the top of the gully at 6850′, with the first peek of the south summit. It’s been bone dry since we left the creek. And the only likely water source was the leftover snow several hundred feet down in the southeast basin.

Soon, we moved north below the ridgeline while eyeing the snow patches in the basin. Grr. We traversed on scree mostly and with some talus. Then in half a mile, we reached the south peak’s east notch at 7200′.

The Cradle South Peak above southeast basin
The Cradle South Peak above the southeast basin

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The Cradle Northeast Basin

It grew hotter as the day progressed. So the minute the pups saw snow in the basin, they went for it right away. Meanwhile, I moved down through slabs. Then I contoured the top of the snow toward the north summit.

Between stepping through loose rocks and signaling for the dogs to stay, it ate up some time. Eventually, the pups sat by the snow and pretended to stay put. Then I slowly made my way up the chossy east slopes.

The Cradle at last
The Cradle at last

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Class 4 Crux on The Cradle

Everything underneath my feet wobbled as I slid a few times and kicked down rocks. But I felt more at ease once I reached the slanted slabs at 100′ below the top. Then I took a second to check out the route.

Though steep, the decent holds and finger grips provided security. En route, a piece of blue webbing under a detached stone had me go, “Yikes!” Soon, I rounded the notch and moved to the east of the summit.

The only way to go is up
The only way to go is up

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The Cradle Summit Views

A short climb on the chossy east face put me on the rocky summit. Right away, I turned to look at the south peak, and it, indeed, looked higher. But the north peak looked taller as well when I saw it from the south. Optical illusion!

Like before, Mount Stuart and Mount Daniel stole the show. Though, it was pretty hazy to the north to see the peaks there clearly. After a short visit, I downclimbed the crux to rejoin the pups.

Southern panoramic view
Southern panoramic view

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Outro

Somehow I knew the pups would “try” to come up to find me. Sure enough, the black lab had made it up to the bottom of the crux. “Um, excuse me, sir?” But of course, he didn’t know how to go back down!

Later we cooled off in the basin, and then it was bone dry again. We couldn’t have dropped fast enough to the creek for water back in the southwest gully. “It was hotter than Hades!” as my friend Julie would say.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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