Catleap Peak + Flagg Mountain by The Needles via Delancy Ridge / 喀利普峯

  • Reading time:13 mins read

Catleap Peak and Flagg Mountain by The Needles rise to the north of Delancy Ridge. The former is a portmanteau of “cataract” and “leap,” named after the adjacent creeks. At the same time, it ranks #10 in North Washington Pass.

Catleap Peak from Delancy Col
Catleap Peak from Delancy Col

See more trip photos here.

Catleap Peak and Flagg Mountain at a Glance

Access: Highway 20 @ 1.2 miles east of Lone Fir Campground
Round Trip: 10 miles
Elevation Range: 3560′-7789′
Gear: helmet, microspikes, snowshoes, ice ax
Route Info: Matt Burton
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Celebrating 12 Years of One Hike A Week

The North Cascades Highway (Highway 20) opened two weeks ago. Because of the large amount of snow this season, I wasn’t sure what was available. Then after some digging, we went to Catleap Peak since the road was clear.

We went east on Highway 20 and made a pitstop at the Diablo Lake Overlook. The road was still clear until the snow berms appeared before Easy Pass to Washington Pass. None of the trailheads were reachable until east of the pass.

Delancy ridge above North Cascades Highway
Delancy ridge above North Cascades Highway

See more trip photos here.

Catleap Peak South Route

We visited two hills in Winthrop on Saturday while waiting out the lousy mountain weather. Then this morning, we drove west to a mile east of Lone Fir Campground. After parking by the rail guard on the south side, we crossed the road and dove into the brush.

There were many windfalls at the start, then faded as we started going uphill. It was surprising to come across a few ribbons and a faint trail en route before the clearing. But they soon dwindled, and the path faded shortly after.

The secret is about to unfold
The secret is about to unfold

See more trip photos here.

En Route to Delancy Col

We went up in the open over some brush as Silver Star Mountain slowly came into view. At 4300′, we crossed a stream and stayed east of a broad water gully. It was steep from 4600′ to 5200′, where we stumbled on the aftermath of last year’s Delancy Fire.

Patchy snow showed up above 5000′, then it was constant at 5700′ but firm. I put on snowshoes before crossing the broad gully at 6000′. But from the other side and up to the pass, we were in the slush the entire time.

En route to Delancy Ridge
En route to Delancy Ridge

See more trip photos here.

Catleap Peak Climb

Catleap Peak first came into view from the col before we dropped onto the west. The steep terrain soon tapered as we traversed east through Leap Creek Basin with the constant sight of The Needles. It was decent snow through to our lowest point at 6000′.

Soon, we were back in the slush as we slowly gained altitude toward 7150′ col. As we neared the ridge, I realized the cornices had draped the entire ridgeline. Then I noticed the steep gully to the east that had made it possible to bypass.

Into Leap Creek Basin below The Needles
Into Leap Creek Basin below The Needles

See more trip photos here.

The Final Stretch on Catleap Peak

With knee-deep slush en route, the cornice-free gully had us going at turtle speed. Meanwhile, I kept looking back at The Needles. I’ve seen the peak from various places, but it was the first time seeing the gnarly north face up close.

Atop the gully at 7300′, we traversed north below Catleap Peak’s south ridge. I considered walking the crest past Point 7520′, but the cornice lineup had me rethink my plan. Before long, we reached the top in under one mile from the col.

One step closer to Catleap Peak
One step closer to Catleap Peak

See more trip photos here.

Catleap Peak Summit Views

We’ve had a constant sight of Tower Mountain and Golden Horn to the summit. But it was even more surreal seeing the north side of all the jagged peaks we’ve visited. The sunny weather offered views of peaks from near and far.

Alas, another lovely day in North Cascades. The familiar Azure Peak and Mount Ballard were just north of the Methow River. But the amount of snow on Robinson Mountain and Devils Peak had made them unrecognizable at first.

Southwestern panoramic view on Catleap Peak
Southwestern panoramic view on Catleap Peak

See more trip photos here.

A Stopover on Delancy Benchmark

The snow had softened even more in the early afternoon. So retracing our steps through the bypass gully was just as slow. Snow quality in the basin had also changed as it grew slushier the closer we were to Delancy Col.

From the pass, Delancy Benchmark was only another 600′ upslope. We enjoyed all-around views, including Big Kangaroo by Washington Pass and North Gardner Mountain. After a brief stop, we left for Flagg Mountain.

En route to Delancy Benchmark
En route to Delancy Benchmark

See more trip photos here.

En Route to Flagg Mountain

It was under a mile from the benchmark to reach our day’s final goal. Cornices also draped east of the crest but were less dramatic than those on Catleap Peak. Meanwhile, The Needles continued to steal the show on this trip.

Snow steepened below the summit block as we mixed-climbed through the crest. Beyond the top of the snow and the bottom of the summit was a slight dip. So I poked my head around and saw the sheer drop-off on the east. Eek!

The final stretch
The final stretch

See more trip photos here.

Flagg Mountain Summit Views

The summit tower involved a short, 20-25′ rock scramble that wasn’t suitable for the dogs. So I leashed them to a small tree by the dry rocks and went up alone. It had a flat top, wide enough to seat a few people comfortably.

Catleap Peak’s impressive east wall stretched across Leap Creek Basin. But I didn’t even notice it from The Needles since it blended into the background. Slate Pass beyond the vast Hancock Ridge looked snowy still.

Western panoramic view of Catleap Peak
Western panoramic view of Catleap Peak

See more trip photos here.

Outro

The wind had picked up earlier, and it was growing chilly. After taking photos with the dogs, we left the mountain under an overcast evening sky. Besides a few squirrels and a grouse, we enjoyed a day in solitude.

I only realized I had left the yellow pup’s leash behind after we were back at Delancy Pass. Of course, no one would go back for it in their right mind. Soon, we dove back into the slush and aimed straight for the car.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

See more trip photos here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.