Dome Peak - Dome Glacier, September 2002
Dome Peak is remote, majestic and situated in an area of the Cascades where I have spent comparatively little time climbing. Offering little in the way of technical difficulties, the journey out to Dome Peak takes the climber through rare old-growth forests, along lakes stocked with fish and through scenic subalpine meadows. Tales of nightmarish bushwhacking through the brush along Bachelor Creek, difficult creek crossings and route finding difficulties are largely exaggerated and should not deter those that want to climb this desirable peak. Together with Tom and Paul, I drove out onto the Suiattle River Road, passing through lovely clear-cuts on our way to the Downey Creek trailhead. We arrived at the trailhead sometime in the evening and opted to make the easy 6 mile approach to the campsites at Six Mile that night. Paul signed us in the trail register as Tom noted a wasp nest directly overhead. This would come to haunt us on our return, but more on that later. Soon we were hiking in the darkness and our pace slowed considerably. At around 11:00pm, after a creek crossing in which Tom narrowly escaped an unintentional swim, we reached the camp site and crawled into our bivy sacks for some sleep. We awoke that morning to find ourselves camped out next to a couple that Paul knew, Jim and Gail Jung. We would make the approach out from camp together.
The Bachelor Creek Trail eventually emerges from the forest and heads into brush (beware of bee and wasp nests). However, we found the trail through the brush to be easily navigable. Having been warned of the horribly overgrown trail conditions after the creek crossing (claims proven to be unfounded), we took a left trail spur that headed back into forest. We traveled over cross-country terrain, making a gradual ascending traverse until we once again located the Bachelor Creek Trail. The trail led us towards the end of the Bachelor Creek valley, at which point we discovered that the trail and a significant portion of forest had been mowed down by a massive avalanche. I couldn't help thinking about the similar destruction I had seen heading up to Boston Basin earlier this season. We picked our way up the right side of the avalanche debris (packed snow still underfoot), cutting left into the upper avalanche zone to bypass some cliffs. Soon thereafter we once again were able to relocate the trail. (more...)
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