Black Peak

Black Peak (8,970ft)

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Black Peak

Eric Gilbertson

September 24, 2016

I waited a bit too long to find a hiking partner for Saturday, so ended up going out solo. Black peak looked like a good hundred-highest mountain to solo, given that it was mostly on trails and there would probably be other people there, so I decided to go for it. I left Seattle at 6am, and was parked and hiking from Rainy Pass in North Cascades National Park by 9am.

I quickly made it up to Heather Pass, then left the official trail heading towards Black Peak. The peak is so popular, though, that there’s a very well-defined user trail most of the way. I hiked down a talus slope, past a few alpine lakes, then started up the scree slopes to the south ridge. I passed four or five other parties on their way up.

As I got higher on the ridge the terrain turned to scrambling up a snowy gully. There was about 2 inches of fresh snow, and I had the first tracks in them. I followed cairns up to near the summit, then traversed around to the east face. Just below the summit I scrambled a 20ft class 4 section and found myself on the top.

The views were great of Mt Goode nearby, and many other big snowy mountains. I didn’t stay long, though, because there wouldn’t be room up there if another group came up. I carefully down-climbed the class 4 section, then scrambled back down the ridge. After some fun snow glissading back to the lakes I quickly hiked back to the car, arriving at 2:45pm. Rainy Pass was overflowing with cars, as one of the last snow-free weekends of the year.

I was driving out soon, and made it back for dinner in Seattle.

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Pinnacle and Emerald Peaks

Emerald Peak (8,422ft) and Pinnacle Mountain (8,400ft)

Eric and Katie

Sept 20-22, 2016

We hiked in the Pyramid Mountain trail for 12.5 miles and set up camp at the base of Cardinal Mountain.  It was still officially summer, but it started snowing in the evening and we woke up to a fresh inch of snow on the ground! This was surprising given that we were in the trees around 6,500ft, and the leaves were still green on the underbrush. In the morning we hiked up over Saska pass, dropped through the burned zone, then scrambled up to the summit of Pinnacle. We made it back to camp before dark and had a nice fire to warm up.

The next morning we woke up to another dusting of snow, and decided to climb up Emerald Peak. After summitting an incorrect peak nearby, we reached the true summit, following goat tracks. That afternoon we hiked back to the car and made it back to Seattle before too late.

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Boston Peak 9/16

Boston Peak – 8,894ft

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Aaron traversing with Boston Peak in the background

North Cascades, Washington

Eric and Aaron

September 16, 2016

I had just finished traveling around the world for 2 months over the summer hitting country highpoints and my flight landed in Seattle at 6pm on Thursday evening. I was hoping to take advantage of sunny weather Friday before the weekend rain came, so immediately met up with Aaron and we started driving up to the North Cascades. (I had misplaced my key and was locked out of my apartment, but luckily Aaron could spot me some extra mountaineering gear).

We camped out just outside the park boundary, then started hiking up towards cascade pass at 6:45am. The weather was great and we easily hiked up to the glacier at the base of Sahale Peak. We felt safe crossing without a rope, then scrambled up the back right side of Sahale and took a break on the summit with two other climbers. From here we scrambled along the knife-edge ridge towards Boston Peak.

At the base of the peak, below the rappel anchors, we traversed right on a good ledge, then scrambled up when the ledge disappeared. It was mostly exposed loose third class climbing with a fourth-class section near the top which we did unroped.

At 2pm We found the famous summit register on top placed in 1966, and added our names. Three rappels with out 50m rope brought us back to the knife-edge ridge, and we were soon scrambling down sahale and back on the trail. We reached the car at almost exactly the 11hr mark, and were back to Seattle before too long.

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