Burch Mountain via Falls Creek to Mount Barney in Pasayten / 伯奇山

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Burch Mountain, Little Fool Hen Mountain, Obstruction Peak, and Mount Barney sit above Falls Creek in Pasayten Wilderness. They are also within arm’s reach of Big Craggy Peak and Sherman Peak.

Burch Mountain at last
Burch Mountain at last

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Check out these posts for Burch Mountain near Wenatchee, Washington.

Burch Mountain at a Glance

Eightmile Ridge Slam = Burch Mountain + Little Fool Hen Mountain + Obstruction Peak + Mount Barney
八哩脊滿貫=伯奇山+小樅樹雞山+障礙峯+邦尼山

Access: NF-5130/545
Round Trip: 16.8 miles
Elevation Range: 3820′-7940′
Gear: helmet
Route Info: wildernessed
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface on Burch Mountain

Happy end of the big mountain season! Since mid-July, the Cub Creek 2 Fire has kept us out of the area. But glad we were able to come back for Burch Mountain, Little Fool Hen Mountain, Obstruction Peak, and Mount Barney.

The high note I had looked forward to ending the summer with was anything but high. In hindsight, we should’ve waited another day to climb. Then we’d enjoy a day full of sunshine with all of our goals in sight.

Before sunrise in Pasayten Wilderness
Before sunrise in Pasayten Wilderness

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Burch Mountain Loop

The four high points were close; only one sat outside Falls Creek. So I planned to make a loop trip but not starting from Billy Goat Trailhead. Otherwise, we’d need to climb up to Burch Mountain on the way out.

Ideally, we’d go in from Falls Creek, but the fire closure order remained intact. Besides, there was still the washout two miles before the trailhead. So I settled on the closest starting point at the 5100′ saddle on Eightmile Ridge.

En route to Burch Mountain
En route to Burch Mountain

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Eightmile Road to Eightmile Ridge

I parked north of Eightmile Creek by the old Road 545. Then at the crack of dawn, we walked south a short way and moved east uphill. We went through the 2014 Upper Falls Fire debris and brush during this part.

We reached the saddle at 1300′ above before sunrise. Then clouds rolled in as we went north over more rubble now that Eightmile Ridge Trail was no longer around. But the debris dwindled the higher we were.

This way to Burch Mountain
This way to Burch Mountain

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Eightmile Ridge to Burch Mountain

At one point, the faint trail appeared from under the brush. So we followed it over Point 6970 down to the flat area in the meadow. It had been a cloudy morning, so the views around us were minimal.

We had somehow missed the path that continued on the ridgeline. Instead, we turned left and went south. It wasn’t until we had gone a quarter of a mile before I realized we were off route. Then we backtracked.

Burch Mountain summit in the mists
Burch Mountain summit in the mists

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The Final Stretch

Soon, we had stepped out of the old burn amid a ridge full of larches. The path became more defined past 7200′, where I noticed a cairn marking a junction. So I guessed that was the Falls Creek Trail.

At several hundred feet below the top, I finally saw the peak through the mists. Then the trail took us through the scree slope to the fork with Burch Mountain Trail. From there, it was a short walk up to the former lookout.

The final stretch on the south ridge
The final stretch on the south ridge

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Burch Mountain Summit Views

Wow, the view, yeah?! It was nowhere near the sunny weather in the forecast I saw only the day before. I couldn’t even see our next goal a mile away; it was that cloudy. It was also too windy on top to enjoy our short visit.

We hunkered down behind the rock piles and waited for the clouds to shift. At one point, I caught a glimpse of Little Fool Hen Mountain above Drake Creek. But other than that, we didn’t see much.

Next stop, Little Fool Hen Mountain
Next stop, Little Fool Hen Mountain

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En Route to Little Fool Hen Mountain

We dropped onto the rocky northeast ridge from the top and stayed below south of the crest. There was an inch or two of snow throughout, but nothing posed significant issues. Before long, we had reached Point 7482.

Soon, we went north down the joining ridge while avoiding the tall steps on the crest. Then the minute we were on the saddle, clouds had cleared up mostly. Shortly, we went straight up while avoiding the boulders from the east.

This way to Little Fool Hen Mountain
This way to Little Fool Hen Mountain

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Little Fool Hen Mountain Summit Views

Clouds everywhere had lifted but on the south. The forecast held except to the south and east of here, dang! So there were no still signs of Obstruction Peak. But we enjoyed views in the other directions nonetheless.

Since this summit would be the only one with views, we stayed a while. I couldn’t find a report east to Obstruction Peak. But my hunch was that it would go, and worse comes to worst, we’d traverse below the crest.

Drake Creek Basin to the west
Drake Creek Basin to the west

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En Route to Obstruction Peak

Back on Point 7482 and back in the mists, we went southeast to Point 7497. We stayed on the crest until right below the top, avoiding the outcrops. After a brief pause, we continued northeast to our next goal.

We walked down through larches with the occasional valley views to north and south. Soon, we bypassed a knob from the south before the 7000′ saddle. Then it was only 1000′ uphill over rocks and dirt to the summit.

Three Prong Creek Valley to the north
Three Prong Creek Valley to the north

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Obstruction Peak Summit No Views

Clouds above Falls Creek didn’t seem to have shifted all day. Visibility was pretty much the same as Burch Mountain, except it was milky the whole time. But we stayed 10 minutes before leaving the sad summit.

It was tough to tell the start of the south ridge through the mists without looking at my GPS. Then it took a while to reach the rocky south edge through the thick bushes. I also couldn’t plan my route since it was so cloudy.

Kodak moment on Obstruction Peak
Kodak moment on Obstruction Peak

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Final Stop, Mount Barney

The sun would set soon, so I hoped we could go past Point 7800 before dark. Then we dropped onto the south crest through krummholz en route. After going over Point 7650, we moved below west of the cliffs.

We stayed between 7200′ and 7400′ through the top of several gullies. Any lower, we would need to climb in and out of ravines. Below Point 7800 at 7400′ was a pool of giant boulders that took some time to bypass in the fog.

Summit register on Obstruction Peak
Summit register on Obstruction Peak

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Final Stretch on Mount Barney

Things started to look promising past the boulders. Shortly, a broad slab gully with drop-offs at the base showed up before the 7400′ saddle. So we traversed the middle over the narrow ledges.

From the saddle, it was only 400′ to the top of Mount Barney. But we contended with more krummholz while avoiding cliffs from the west. Then we finished the final 100′ up to the top via dirt and rocks, like on Obstruction Peak.

Summit dogs on Mount Barney
Summit dogs on Mount Barney

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Mount Barney Summit Plus Outro

It was only two weeks after my first time summiting in the dark this season. But glad I had the dogs with me since it’s not my favorite thing to do solo. However, I wished we had a more rewarding trip views-wise.

The sky had cleared before we got to the top. After a short break (sorry, pups!), we descended the south-southwest slope and dove back into Upper Falls Fire debris. Then we crossed Falls Creek at 2700′ below.

We went through more down trees, more ash, plus more brush. Afterward, we fumbled onto the 5100′ saddle above Eightmile Creek. Then we plunge-stepped 1300′ through soft dirt onto the old road and walked out.

Summit register on Mount Barney
Summit register on Mount Barney

See more trip photos here.