Post subject: The Final Volcano Glacier Peak via the Dakobeds
Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:40 am
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:40 pm Posts: 517
For a much better written version of this story check out Jasons Trip Report and his other site for exclusive photos not featured in this trip report
Introduction Glacier Peak is by far the most Isolated volcano within the Cascade chain with the minimal approach taking over 30 miles and Glacier Peak Wilderness is what I consider to have the most stunning scenery as in all of Washington. I had always looked at the Dakobeds (translated to mean Great Parent) in a sense of mystery studying the contour lines of the massive peaks hosting several glaciers lingering on the edge of granite cliffs. Glacier Peak and the Dakobeds were to me as Mt Olympus and the Valhalla’s was to Jason. From the tiger striped gold tinted rock to the never ending crevasse filled glaciers Glacier Peak is easily one of the most amazing places I have ever set my eyes upon. We decided the perfect way to attack Glacier peak would be via the Dakobeds.
Day 1 Welcome to Glacier Peak Wilderness We made a quick run through of the local Winco stacking up on enough food to support seven days of touring. We stoked up on everything from Crystal Light to Reese’s Pieces deciding we wouldn’t make the same mistake we had on Mt Olympus. After a long drive across Stevens Pass and on to the eastern crest of the cascades we found ourselves at our starting point, the White River trailhead. We leisurely packed our bags being extra careful not to forget anything that could hinder the tour. What originally started as a few pesky mosquito’s soon evolved to an all out feeding frenzy with Jason and I being the main course. With our bags loaded with around 100 pounds of food, clothes and shelter we started our journey at the late hour of 8p.m. to knock off a few miles and hopefully deter a few mosquitos along the way. We pushed up the trail under a dusk sky passing lush vegetation and several unmaintained campsites until arriving at our destination for the night, a trail junction to access Boulder Pass. We threw up the tent in a hurry for protection from the ever present mosquito’s and enjoyed a plethora of food as we sat by our hastily built fire.
Day 2 From The Valley floor to the Mountain top My feet were still swore and blistered from the nonstop climbing I had done the previous week so I took a few minutes bandaging up my wound with are limited supply of duct tape. It was early in the morning as we started hiking through the endless switchbacks of shaded forest until reaching the avy scoured alpine of Boulder Basin. The Basin was amazing with steep green canyon walls, rugged rock faces and a stillness only broken by the overwhelming roar of Boulder Creek. Once arriving at the creek we were surprised to find that the water was raging from the late season snowmelt and that the only possible way to cross was by fording the swift moving creek. We both crossed the water without shoes or socks careful not to slip and fall into the shin deep icy cold water. After quickly drying our feet we were back on the trail slowly gaining elevation under the scorching afternoon sun crossing several avalanche zones laden in debris along the way, until the well defined trail disappeared under a foot of snowpack. It was not quite enough snow to skin but more then enough to slow down our progress as we climbed the final steep switchbacks until arriving at Boulder Pass.
Jason Climbing to Boulder Pass
Once arriving at Boulder Pass we let the cool breeze of the wind cool us off as we studied the snowpack and our topographical map, all while eating some much needed calories. Here we were standing in the gateway of the Dakobeds stoked that from here on we would be traveling mostly on snow knowing little of what the terrain had in store for us. We switched our gear over from shorts and running shoes to ski pants and boots, put on our crampons and started the endless traverse that would go on for the next three days. Soon enough we found ourselves standing on the first of many glaciers we would cross along the way. The view from the Walrus Glacier was breathtaking with a sea of Ice cascading into a huge serac field dropping huge boulders of Ice thousands of feet down to the floor of the Napeequa valley. We could see a faint track traversing through the maze of crevasses from across the ridge and chose to follow them up the obvious route all while wondering if they were from a humans or animals.
Jason Climbing with Boulder pass below
Jason chose the more efficient skis and swiftly crossed as I stuck to the age old method of bootpacking until we met up at the base of the uphill track. While the crevasses where deep they were few and far between as we climbed steep roller after steep roller until arriving at a col just a few hundred feet below a sub summit of Clark Mountain. We were both exhausted from a long day of climbing and decided that this would be a more then sufficent camping spot. After cooking the standard macaroni and cheese we climbed up to the summit to watch the sunset over Glacier Peak and Mt Baker all while examining our route we would be taking the next day before falling asleep under the cloudless sky.
Jason crossing the Walrus Glacier
Almost at Camp with the Walrus Glacier in the distance
Day 3 A Day of Blood and Sweat and Fears We woke up to the early morning sun beating down upon our high alpine platform with the ambitious goal of reaching Ten Peak Mountain by the end of the day. We overlooked the map multiple times as I boiled snowmelt down for a breakfast consisting of oatmeal and Instant coffee, all while packing our gear. By 8 a.m. we were on the Clark Glacier Jason on Skis and I cramponing with Clark Mountains summit overhead and some nasty bergshrunds hundreds of feet below. I felt comfortable cramponing across the slopes carefully putting in steps on the sun softened snow when all of a sudden my foot slipped out below sending me sliding down the glacier gaining momentum towards a gaping crevasse. I battled the slope as I dug in my Ice axe for self arrest slowly coming to a stop at the top of a steep roller as I watched my lucky hat tumble down before being swallowed by the deep abyss. I was well aware I had just got my ass handed to me as I up climbed collecting my gear along the way and I felt fortunate that I was able to self arrest. I traversed across the slope with extra caution and before long we were on a ridge that separated the Clark and Richardson Glaciers.
It’s going to be a long day
We had two options to access the Richardson Glacier, either we could drop the steep serac riddled northern slope or we could ride a mellow south facing slope to a high col that would get us onto the Richardson Glacier Headwall. We chose to head south both skiing as we took in the view of Rainier and the Central Cascades from our 7500 foot perch. After a quick carry over we found ourselves looking down over the Glacier and the lush green valleys below. Our route only allowed a few turns as we traversed west towards our next destination, a high col 700 feet above us and the gateway to the Pilz Glacier. We switched back to crampons as we traversed the moderately angled slopes being aware and cautious of the cliff band below reaching the col after a grueling 45 minutes.
Here we were in the heart of the Dakobeds looking upon the wide open slopes of the Pilz Glacier from near the summit of Luhna Peak. Finally we had reached an area where we could make some turns as we descended all 2000 feet of sun softened corn until arriving at the flat moraines at the base of the Glacier. By now it was the heat of the day and we were more then happy to take advantage of the streams of snowmelt as we rested for a much need lunch break. After checking the map for awhile it became obvious we skied too far leaving us with a 1500 foot climb if we wanted to reach our intended col. Jason decided to scope out another route and after deciding it was possible we traversed westerly until reaching a rock ridge that stood between us and the Butterfly Glaciers steep slopes riddled in crevasses, seracs and cliffs. We were blocked by a cliff that dropped to the steep icy slopes that varied in size as we climbed the ridge until finally reaching a spot we felt comfortable down climbing. We looked upon the vast Butterfly Glacier noticing a possibly skiable route through the gut that was reached with a 15 minute traverse across the steep upper slopes.
Jason Skiing off Luahnas NW face
Jason climbing the moraine of the Pilz Glacier with Clark Mountain in the distance
Finally we were once again on a 2000 foot fall line ripping down the perfectly softened corn. Jason skied down the steep slopes first yelling up navigating me through the maze of crevasses and bare glacial ice until reaching the flat lower slope. After a while it was obvious that this tour was much more traversing then fall line skiing and I was becoming exhausted by all of the bootpacking. I cramponed across the east face while Jason effortlessly slid towards our final col of the day. After 30 minutes of kick stepping I reached the pass thirsty and exhausted while Jason sat rested and rehydrated waiting 15 minutes for my arrival. I could tell he was getting somewhat impatient with my speed but we were both in good spirit as we down climbed to Butterfly Lake.
Jason skiing the butterfly Glacier
According to the topo we were about to embark on the hardest part of the day. It was a grueling mile and a half traverse across steep slopes smashed between rock headwalls above and enormous cliffs below. We kept pushing forward knowing that once we finished the traverse easier terrain would be abundant and we were within an hour and a half of our potential camping spot. The terrain in front of us was a sample of everything the Dakobeds had to offer, our route was going to be on dirt, rocks, multiple creeks and lush green vegetation with the occasional vain of snow to slow down our progress. Jason attempted to patch ski with multiple carryovers while I stuck to bootpacking keeping close to stable rocks imbedded in the soft soil. Before long we reached a steep snow covered creek that cut 20 foot walls into the rock before ending in a huge waterfall. By now I was frustrated with the never ending torment brought to us by the Dakobeds, but soon enough Jason spotted a ramp that would get us into the creek and I had spotted a potential ramp that would get us onto the other side. We were back in business.
The creek was roaring as we made turns within feet of the gaping holes exposing the raging current underneath us as we made it to our ramp on the opposite side. By know we were in the shadows of the massive granite slab known as Ten Peak Mountain. I had always looked at Ten Peak with a sense of amazement whether from the topographical map or the pbase website and here I was finally after years staring at it with my own eyes. To say I was impressed was an understatement as the veins of snow I was crossing were in all actuality 2000 foot colouirs encased in a fortress of rock. While my mind was stoked my body was exhausted as I slowly crossed snow patch after snow patch following the kick steps Jason was so kind to put in and before long we reached our final decent of the day.
According to a map Jason had received we were 500 feet above a tarn lake at the bottom of Ten Peaks NW colouir. With my last bit of energy I rode down the snowfield cautiously missing the rocks strewn all about until reaching our destination for the day a flat snowmelt lake. Once arriving at the lake I tossed my gear on the ground and traversed until reaching a spot we both agreed was suitable for camp. It was the perfect location for the night with fresh water streams everywhere, dry flat ground to camp on and an amazing view of Glacier Peak and the Chocolate Glacier. After the nonstop excruciating traverse that we endured throughout the day I was more then happy to put up the tent and stuff my face with some much needed calories. Before long I was resting in the warmth of my sleeping bag as the final rays of sun illuminated on the North Cascades in the distance.
Day 4 A Hope of a better tomorrow I was awoken by the noise of Jason getting his gear together, he had woken up early in the morning to watch the sunrise alpenglow over Glacier Peak. The day before we had both showed interest in skiing the massive aesthetic colouir on Ten Peak that hovered above us and he asked if I still wanted to do so. I knew that the conditions were going to be somewhat sketchy on the 55 degree entrance that hadn’t had the time to soften in the morning sun and I also didn’t like seeing a runnel down the gut so I chose instead to rest and let me boots dry while Jason went at it, I felt I had been pushing my luck a little bit too much recently. I watched Jason slowly climb the slope as I made breakfast and kept myself entertained by messing around rock climbing on a 200 foot rock wall next to camp as he slowly disappeared behind the chutes dog leg. After about an hour of climbing I knew he was going to be down soon so I returned to camp and started packing up for the long day ahead in which we intended to make it to the base of Glacier Peak. I watched Jason ski down the slope somewhat jealous but more then that antsy to get moving as he ripped perfect turns all the way back to camp. After a few minutes of talking back and forth about the day’s route I walked over to my snowboard to find that an animal had eaten the rubber off my bindings high back, my poles handle and my duct tape. To say the least I was rather pissed and ready to get out of there.
Jason skiing Ten Peak
While rock climbing earlier I had noticed a low col followed by what seemed to be a 30 foot down scramble of loose rock that dropped directly to a moraine lake at the base of the Honeycomb Glacier which was our intended route for the day. I was a little bit ahead of Jason so I climbed to the col first and started down climbing what quickly turned into Glacier polished smooth rock. This wasn’t what I had expected being much more technical as I tossed my poles and carefully down climbed the almost unclimbable route. Once Jason arrived at the col I was able to guide him to a much easier scree slope before we once again met up at the base of the Moraine Lake. In the not so far distance we could see the low angled Honeycomb glacier as we wrapped around the lake crossing snow, mud and streams preparing to final skin and getting some of the weight off of our backs.
We rested at the edge of the lake drinking from what possible could have been our last water source as we transitioned to skinning. I was stoked because I had a good idea of what was in store for us and that meant no more cramponing for the rest of the day. The weather was endless blue sky with the occasional cloud and a nice breeze as we skinned up the mellow Honeycomb glacier. We skinned up the Glacier at a fast pace covering as much terrain as the day before within hours and soon enough we were staring at Glacier Peak and the Suiattle Glacier from a flat bench on the Honeycomb. We took our time rehydrating and eating calories as we discussed potential base camps for the day debating between the Glacier Pass col and the Dry slopes of Disappointment ridge. We chose the latter because of its closeness to our objective, the dry ground and potential views for an amazing sunset.
Skinning the Honeycomb Glacier with the moraine lake in the distance
We both chose different routes to get to camp, Jason had decided to stay high and traverse across the Honeycomb and Suiattle to basecamp while I chose to drop down a few hundred feet and skin up to camp. As I started dropping elevation I noticed that the area below me became blocked by a rock band so thinking noting of it I rode down listening to what sounded like a stream. It turned out that the stream was in all actuality a waterfall on a 20 foot cliff band that I was either going to have to down climb or spend 20 minutes climbing up and around. It was smooth rock but it had small ledges that I felt comfortable down climbing, so I tossed my backpack and the board to the snow below and carefully made my way down until arriving back at my gear. With a quick transition I was back to skinning on the mellow slopes of the Suiattle glacier slowly uphill traversing and within an hour I was putting up our tent on the dirt covered ridge of disappointment Peak.
It was still somewhat early in the day so we rested under the warm afternoon sun drying our boots and loading up on calories preparing for the day ahead. All of the traversing and skinning in wet boots had taken its toll on Jason’s feet so he stuck around the tent as I decided to do a sunset jog up disappointment ridge, stopping at a towering rock to mess around and sharpen my climbing skills. From my vantage point of around 8500 feet I was looking out among the vast landscape of the Central Cascades and all its prominent landmarks. As the sky started to brighten from the sunset over the horizon I jogged back to camp and cooked some food as the Suiattle Glacier was a vibrant red from the Alpenglow. Our route for the next day was still somewhat up in the air between a few different options so we discussed the possible route and decided it would be based on the conditions that we would observe the next day. That night we went to bed stoked that we had made it according to plan and there was a good chance that we would nail our main objective the next day Glacier Peak.
Looking West from disappointment ridge
Looking towards the Suiattle Glacier with a full moon in the background
Day 5 The payoff for all this torture We hadn’t seen another person for 4 days so I was surprised when I heard some people hiking out side of our tent. I jumped out of the tent to see two people heading up the ridge around 7 a.m. as I started getting my gear ready for the long day ahead. We didn’t have access to running water so we decided to take the time consuming task of melting down some water before leaving. We started off the day in running shoes hiking up the dusty ridge of Disappointment peak before transferring onto the Suiattle Glacier. Since we didn’t have much water we traversed towards a prominent rock surrounded by Ice until arriving to a creek cascading of the rock walls. We forced down as much water as possible before I switched to skinning, Jason decided he felt comfortable climbing the low angle glacier in running shoes until the slope got steeper. We took a resting break on the Cool Glacier at the base of Glacier Peak Proper.
Jason climbing the Suiattle Glacier in running shoes
My big thing was that I didn’t want to climb or ski any route that I had done the year prior so we decided to head directly up the headwall of the Glacier instead of taking the standard dog route. We both switched over to cramponing in our ski and snowboard boots and started heading towards the steep face, traversing around some deep crevasses along the way. Once arriving at the headwall we took out our Ice axes and started kick steeping up the face with Jason leading the way. After 45 minutes of kick stepping straight up we found ourselves up on a high ridge that separated the Chocolate and Cool Glaciers and were stoked to find that we were able to climb the ridge all the way to summit proper. The ridge was exposed on both sides with a minimum of a 1000 foot drop as the ridge connected with the Chocolate Glacier headwall. The headwall had some massive shrunds on it that looked like they crossed the entire face but luckily they were small where we had to cross and after a few quick hops we were standing on summit proper.
Jason climbing up the headwall
Out of every volcano I have ever been on top of Glacier Peak by far has the most outstanding view. From panoramics of Glacier carved massive peaks to a view of all the Volcanoes in Washington it has it all. We slowly put our downhill gear together and discussed all of the different possibilities that were in front of us. We had originally planned on skiing the Chocolate Glacier but decided against navigating through the maze of crevasses only to have to skin back up and chose instead to go for the more sustained fallline of the Cool Glacier Headwall. We had seen the Cool Glacier Headwall earlier in the day and knew all to well that it was going to be steep with a mandatory shrund hop at the bottom but we both felt comfortable with it and wanted to take advantage of the most direct line back to base camp.
Jason climbing to the summit Proper
Jason scouted the line first taking a few turns before giving me the green light to drop in. The snow had softened quite dramatically in the early afternoon sun so we took extra caution not to cause any wet slides on each other. We carefully turned down the steep 55 degree face with an exposed cliff band right below us. I chose to keep my Ice axe in hand for self arrest if in any event I slipped out giving me only a few seconds to stop. We carefully made turns down the face until the slope mellowed out and we felt more comfortable ripping down. Once we finally arrived onto the lower flanks of the Cool Glacier our blood was pumping and we were stoked looking up at the 1500 foot sustained 55 degree slope with our tracks. We decided to take advantage of good fall line skiing instead of the long traverse of the dog leg route back to our base camp so we climbed a additional 500 feet to the summit of Disappointment peak. The face was steep but nothing compared to what we had just gone down so I opened up with perfect arc turns while Jason snapped some shots before we both met up at the base of the peak and rode the low angled glacier back to camp.
Jason drops in first (it was steep)
Jason on the top of Disappointment Peak with our line in the background
Jason ripping down disappointment Peak
By the time we arrived back to camp the whole area was swarming with activity. We spotted 3 separate groups of climbers who were all attempting to summit the next day and after giving out as much beta as we could we packed our bags up and started heading towards the White Chuck Glacier which would spare us a few miles of hiking the next day. We skinned across the flats of the remaining Glacier until arriving upon a spot I had camped at the year prior and decided this was going to be base camp for the night. It had an amazing panoramic view, dry ground and running water which were all the qualifications I needed. It happened to be the forth of July and I joked around with Jason saying that we celebrated our independence in style as we watched the sunset over Mt Baker and the mountains around Darrington preparing for the long hike ahead of us.
Our view from camp
Day 6 Its all down hill from here We slept in till around 9 a.m. by now the heat was too unbareable to stay asleep. We knew that we were going to hike out to White Pass but it was still up in the air whether we would leave via the White River trail or Indian Creek. On our way in we had spoke with a trail maintenance guy who said they were clearing out the Indian creek trail so we decided that would be the most efficient way. We packed up our gear and skied the flat slopes of the white chuck until arriving at the 500 foot slope between us and a low col to the White Pass area. We climbed up the well beaten in path without the use of crampons until we were standing at the high ridge looking down at the Pass. After down climbing a few hundred feet on dirt and grass we were on the snow free trail traversing out to the PCT. The wildflowers were in full bloom with vibrant whites and yellows and a dark green backdrop as we arrivied at White Pass. I was easily persuaded to take a few turns on a patch of snow next to the flowers. We rested for awhile and talked to another hiker about trail conditions who confirmed our beliefs that the Indian Creek trail would be far more efficient so after a quick break we switched to running shoes and were back on the PCT.
White Pass area
The trail still had a lot of snow cover around the Pass but it slowly dwindled as we lost elevation. By the time we reached Indian Pass the trail was completely snow free which made for easy travel other then the occasional mud pit we would have to cross. As we hiked down the valley the vegetation changed dramatically from huge trees to dense vegetation then back to huge trees, this area had it all. The miles went by fast as we kept a consistent pace knowing that we had around 10 miles until we arrived at the car. The lower in elevation we got the worse the mosquito’s, slowly becoming a huge mass swarming over our heads. Things went smoothly until my foot became submerged in a creek after slipping on a rock and was left with my right foot soaking wet. After that I was motivated to get back to the car as fast at possible not wanting to put on other wet socks or my snowboard boots. What I thought was the final 2 miles turned out to be 5 miles as the trail kept going and going until arriving at the car as the sun was setting. We had planned on camping one final night but a mixture of the mosquito’s and what we were told to be bad weather the next day had us deciding to throw our gear in the car and head home.
Jason Heading towards Indian Pass with Glacier Peak in the background
Still some snow left near Indian Pass
Avy debris in Indian Creek
I climbed the 24 most prominent volcanoes in the Cascade chain (not including Canada) Mt Baker Glacier Peak Rainier x2 St Helens Mt Adams Mt Hood Mt Jefferson Three fingered Jack Mt Washington North Sister Middle Sister South Sister Broken Top Mt Bachelor (without the help of the lifts running above my head) Diamond Peak Mt Bailey Mt Theilsen Mt Hillmen (Mazama) Mt Scott Yamsey McLoughlin Shasta Shastina and Lassen with a total stat of 27 Glaciers and around 114,000 vert climbed (volcano's only)
In Conclusion The tour was by far the most brutal tour I have ever taken but it truly is an amazing place to head to at least one time in your life. With well over 60 miles of trees, alpine, Glacier and rock traveling it was truly a mixture of everything. I have climbed a lot of Volcanoes but this one was my favorite and in my personal opinion it is by far has the best scenery in the Cascades.Thank you for checking out my trip reports and I hope you have enjoyed my journeys from the season and I look forward to putting out even wilder stuff next season.
Post subject: Re: The Final Volcano Glacier Peak via the Dakobeds
Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:26 am
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:57 pm Posts: 5098 Location: California
Congrats on a sick accomplishment Kyle!
Each and every spring/summer I long to make it up to the cascades for some of this epic riding. This year you've REALLY shown me/us the potential and the desire is stronger than ever. Someday....someday.