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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hadley Peak - West Face via Skyline/Chowder Ridge, October 2015

Hadley Peak is a low-prominence volcanic satellite located less than four miles as the crow flies north of Mount Baker. The highest point rising up from the subalpine tundra and sedimentary rocks at very end of Chowder Ridge, Hadley offers an outstanding up-close-and-personal panorama of Mount Baker’s stunning north-side glaciers. In terms of its position, I would say that Hadley is to Mount Baker as Third Burroughs Mountain is to Mount Rainier. In other words, a peak somewhat set back from the mountain with a jaw dropping view of what could be considered the most dramatic and heavily glaciated faces of said mountain. Hadley is certainly all that, but as we discovered much of the appeal is also the approach via a lovely crest trail that goes along Skyline Ridge with sublime views in all directions.

The aesthetic Skyline Ridge Trail ends in a cirque of sorts, after which Chowder Ridge officially begins. A climber’s path continues steeply upwards and takes on a noticeably different character from the easy trail hiking up to this point. Some class 3 with exposure along a sharp crest to a saddle, a steep gully and then some mildly exposed traversing on the right (south) side of the crest eventually leads back up to the crest itself, which can then be followed more or less the entire way over to Hadley Peak. Following an obvious path, we hiked below and around the peaklet immediately before Hadley and wore ourselves out kicking steps up loose scree and talus on the other side. On return we found it to be much more enjoyable to scramble directly over this peak – exposed class 3 - 4, but solid. As a rule of thumb, just stay on the crest no matter how unlikely it may seem from afar.

Finally, we scrambled up one of the obvious rotten gullies on the west face of Hadley, taking great care not to dislodge any rocks onto each other (helmets advised). We topped out to enjoy the fruits of our labor with just one other soul - Doug from Vancouver - on a surprisingly warm and pleasant mid-October day. A most enjoyable approach, top notch views, great camping, fun climbing and an outstanding setting throughout – Hadley Peak via Skyline Ridge is in my opinion deserving of ‘classic’ scramble status and one to add to a Top 10 list!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Crater Mountain - South Spur, September 2015

Per the SummitPost page of Cascades peakbagger extraordinaire Paul Klenke – “Crater Mountain is a prominent peak rising north of Hwy. 20 about 5 mi. east of Ross Lake. It has deep valley footings with over 6000' of relief from the highway. Crater is the site of two former fire lookouts - one on the main summit and another on a 7054' point east of the east summit. The name "crater" probably comes from the mountain's appearance. A massive glacial cirque, holding Crater Lake, is carved out of the south side of the mountain. The out-of-print classic, Routes and Rocks, names the main summit of Crater as one of the five best viewpoints in the North Cascades!”

An abandoned (but well-traveled) trail leads most of the way up Crater’s South Spur to the base of the final summit scramble. This route is considered a technical scramble and features arrows and other markings spray painted on the rock to show the way. It is well worth the effort for the views of the North Cascades and the climbing on exposed rocky terrain of obvious volcanic origin. It makes for an ideal late season venue with a relatively quick all-trail approach and wonderful fall colors encountered along the way.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fisher Peak - West Ridge, September 2015

As seen from Easy Pass, Fisher Peak is an attractive thimble-shaped mountain that rises above the headwaters of Fisher Creek Valley. Approaching from the east, one’s gaze is initially drawn to Mount Logan and the Douglas Glacier tumbling down dramatically from the 8550 ft saddle between Logan’s summit and Thunder Peak closely to the northeast. But continue on for a short distance and behold a stunning panorama that is all things Fisher – the glistening ribbon of Fisher Creek 1000+ feet below, lush meadows in a perfectly U-shaped Fisher Valley and of course picture-perfect Fisher Peak itself.

Despite having been up and over Easy Pass on three previous occasions to climb Mount Logan, Mesahchie Peak and Greybeard Peak, I’ll never tire of the excellent scenery here. Throw in Fisher’s classic West Ridge scramble route (which I’ve only recently heard rave reviews about), solitude at beautiful Silent Lakes camp, plus great springtime skiing on the peak’s east-facing slopes, and there’s something for everyone to be experienced in this breathtaking area of the North Cascades!

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