Bessemer Mountain by Hancocks Comb via Southeast Ridge / 貝瑟默山

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Bessemer Mountain by Hancocks Comb perches above Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. The south peak is a walk-up and a popular winter destination via the logging road. But reaching the main summit requires a vast amount of endeavor.

Bessemer Mountain at first sight
Bessemer Mountain at first sight

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Bessemer Mountain at a Glance

Access: CCC Upper Trailhead
Round Trip: 7.5 miles
Elevation Range: 960′-5166′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, microspikes, crampons, rock & rope
Route Info: Fay Pullen, Gabriel Deal, Mike Collins on SummitPost.org
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

The Preface on Bessemer Mountain

I first saw Bessemer Mountain in 2011 from The Ark (Rooster Mountain) atop Quartz Creek. Then I looked closely at the mountain from South Bessemer seven years later. I knew I’d get to it at some point but didn’t know when.

After yesterday’s trip, I ditched my holiday weekend plan due to the rainy forecast. The pups were still at boarding, so I wanted to check out the non-dog-friendly places. But the long drive home didn’t leave me with much sleep.

CCC Trail in Middle Fork Snoqualmie
CCC Trail in Middle Fork Snoqualmie

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CCC Trail to Southeast Ridge at 1600′

Since I’ve walked the long Bessemer Road twice before, I wanted to try a different route this time. I reached the CCC Upper Trailhead at mile 9.5 on Middle Fork Road with another car in the lot. Soon, I began walking and turned right at the first fork at mile .5.

I had missed the left fork and continued straight. But the path swung back shortly to meet the other trail higher up, adding an extra .25 mile. So it would’ve been at most one mile from the car to the open area at 1600′.

Cross-country style
Cross-country style

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Southeast Ridge to 3200′ Cliff Wall

Once I left the trail, it was the typical scrambling through the old-growth forest. It had been cloudy all morning without the valley views to enjoy. At one point, I stopped and took a half-hour nap due to the lack of sleep.

The ridge traverse would be more enjoyable if it weren’t for the mists. Meanwhile, I focused on staying on the crest until the ridgeline became defined at 2400′. After coming off the outcrops at 3200′, I came upon a cliff wall.

This way to Bessemer Mountain
This way to Bessemer Mountain

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Let the Sunshine In

I dropped onto the west slightly and traversed under the cliffs to a grassy gully. Then I regained the ridge with veggie belay over slick heather en route. Before long, I continued on the crest through the persistent mists.

Things began to look promising when I saw some blue overhead. Meanwhile, the east wind had picked up to reveal South Bessemer. Then Bessemer Mountain came into view as more boulders appeared on the ridge.

Beargrass got views
Beargrass got views

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4500′ Shoulder on Bessemer Mountain

Earlier, I had begun to dread not seeing anything today. But after knowing I was in the inversion, I felt energized and couldn’t wait to go to the top. After several outcrops over a steady incline and rocky terrain, I reached 4500′.

I dropped onto the north and put on crampons by the snow. But I couldn’t reach the lower snowfield over the slabs, so I circled from the east. Soon, I traversed the broad basin to the base of the access gully .25 mile away.

Seeing access gully
Seeing access gully

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Water Gully to the Summit Block

The sound of the water grew louder as I neared the narrow gully. Once I went over the moat, I walked along the snow ramp to the small waterfall. Then terrain steepened as I contended with slippery slabs and mossy rocks.

I soon took the snow up to the ridge above the waterfall. But before gaining the crest, I propped myself up a big rock step over minimal exposure. Then I continued on dry ground as the ridgeline narrowed.

Water gully below Bessemer Mountain
Water gully below Bessemer Mountain

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The Final Stretch

The catwalk to the summit tower felt airy, but glad it was snow-free. Then I scrolled through the reports, looking for the ledge but didn’t see it. So I climbed a bit and quickly spotted the small pinnacle with the flake to the left.

Reaching the flake required going through a few yards of significant exposure. But once I secured the solid holds, going past that point wasn’t an issue. Then the final stretch was a breeze as I tried hard not to look down!

Bessemer Mountain summit up ahead
Bessemer Mountain summit up ahead

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Hancocks Comb Summit Views

Despite the rising inversion, I was glad to be above clouds during my visit. The top of the taller mountains showed through the blanket of whiteness. Then everything to the west was under the mists and looked surreal.

I could only identify Hancocks Comb because we were there in recent months. But it was impossible to tell the rest of the peaks since most looked like tiny islands. Even the southeast ridge was now under the clouds.

Eastern panoramic view
Eastern panoramic view

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Outro

Half an hour later, as three mountain goats looked on, I rappelled off the top on a 30m rope. Soon, clouds had shifted upward and took away every bit of the view. From the snow, I rappeled into the gully by the small waterfall.

I rappelled above the entrance to bypass the running water. Back on the southeast ridge, I rappelled off the cliff wall at 3200′ because the bypass gully was too slick. Afterward, it was finding my way back through the forest.

Finding my way home
Finding our way home

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