Star Peak (8,690ft) and Courntey Peak (8,392ft)
September 18, 2017
Fresh off of mountain biking and scrambling up Cardinal Peak, I drove four hours to Twisp and up to the West Fork Buttermilk trailhead. I’d skied in here last February, and it looked a lot different. It was quite bit more convenient to be able to drive all the way to the trailhead rather than parking 9 miles away at the sno-park!
I slept in the car that night, and just after sunset two other hikers emerged from the woods and drove out, leaving me the only car in the lot. This wasn’t too surprising on a Sunday night.
I got up shortly after sunrise and soon hit the trail. Unfortunately mountain bikes were not allowed on this trail, so I would have to do everything by foot. After about 2.5 hours I reached Fish Pass, amid light snow showers. It appeared the area had seen the first snow of the season the past night, and the summits were coated in a dusting of snow.
The views were amazing, as the larches were starting to turn yellow in the valleys below. From the pass I dropped down to scenic Star Lake, then picked up a climbers trail up the ridge behind it. I followed the trail up towards Star Peak, eventually scrambling over snow-covered talus to reach the summit. It was pretty slippery.
After admiring the view I carefully climbed back down to the lake, then back up to the pass. From here I made a short 30-minute hike up the ridge to tag Courtney Peak, which had a lot less snow, being a few hundred feet shorter. I noticed ominous clouds to the west, and it looked like the western Cascades were still getting snow. I had strategically chosen to climb these mountains East of the crest to avoid the snow, and it looked like I had chosen wisely.
I soon descended back to the pass, and was at the car two hours later for a 7-hour round trip. After a food stop in Winthrop I made it back to Seattle that evening.