I am splitting the big trip into a few parts to make it more manageable to write and for y'all to read. We got into Mazama after finishing the Pasayten peaks and began prep for what we are calling the "big trip"; the 18 days of climbing between Mazama and Marblemount. This portion of our expedition took us into the heart of the North Cascades! We experienced remote backcountry, high peaks, intense bushwacking, and stunning views.
Today was our rest day. We slept in and mosied down the road to the Mazama store for pastries and hot coffee. After fueling the local economy at both the Mazama Store and Goat's Beard, we loaded the bikes and began the slow roll up Hwy 20. I think my bike weighed well over 100 lbs with all my gear and 13 days of food. This was the start of the "Big Trip". It would be 17 days before we made it down the west slopes to Marblemount for our next propper resupply. We made camp for the night near the cutthroat lake trailhead.
My fully loaded bike
We rode a mile up Highway 20 with light bikes before carrying the bikes up the steep bank and into the trees for safe hiding. Geading up towards Big Snagtooth. We were greated by great views and plentiful mosquitoes. Jeff led the top boulder problem and belayed up Uhuru and I to the summit. Next was the traverse towards Silverstar. Lots of loose rock, but easy going. You can see Silverstar from many places, which means you can see many places from the top of Silverstar! We then descended and Biked up hwy 20 to the Bridge Creek TH.
Jeff taking an alternate route on the way down from Big Snagtooth
Hiked up Agnes Creek to Spruce Creek camp. It was fun to be on the PCT for a day. We met many through hikers and enjoyed the well maintained trails. They would soon be but a fond memory.
We took the Spruce Creek route, which although involved bushwacking, was relatively easy and direct. Once in the alpine beautiful views kept us moving. We ascended the Chickamin Glacier and limbed Dome first. What a fun summit scramble with some serious exposure! On our way to Sinister, we saw one remaining snow bridge to get through the Glacier. We protected the section with a picket and were granted safe passage towards the summit of Sinister. We then descended to a beautiful high camp at the Gunsight/Agnes Pass.
Climbing up the Chickamin Glacier to Dome
The last snow bridge to get to Sinister
View from our camp
We descended Spruce creek to the PCT and got in a couple trail miles before our turn off to Swamp Creek. This section of buahwacking proved to be the most intense bushwacking I've experienced. We fought for every foot up that valley. Roughly 4 miles took Jeff and I around 8 hours. With low afternoon clouds, we settled for an early camp at the base of the Dark Glacier. I awoke in the middle of the night to brilliant stars which I attempted to photograph during a trip to the bathroom.
Brilliant wildflowers approaching the Dark Glacier
Milky Way over the Dark Glacier
We woke early and ascended the Dark Glacier at first light. Watching the sun rise over the shoulder of Dark was spectacular! From Dark we began the traverse towards Bonanza. Lots of choss and exposed scrambling, but the route was rewarding. No room for error here, so Jeff and I took our time, climbing with calmness and intention. The only sounds were the distance rumble of waterfalls and our breathing. Made it safely to the Summit of Bonanza and descended to Holden Pass. From here we climbed Martin with our full packs, hoping to descend the East side. Unfortunately there was no route down the East Face, so we descended back towards Holden Pass and wrapped around the NW side of the mountain towards the north col. We made camp in some rocky soil among the larches.
Sunrise over the Dark Glacier
A view of the traverse from Dark to Bonanza
Jeff carefully traverses an exposed section of the ridge
View from our camp in the larches
We descended the Martin Glacier to Hilgard Pass, then took the trail down and around to Tenmile Pass and down to Devore Creek. From here, we left the trail again and began the journey to Flora. This peak was much further than we expected, but the travel was straightforward. From Flora, we descended back to Devore Creek and down to the Bird Creek Camp.
Today started with a moderate bushwack up bird creek. Steep forest transitioned to brushy basins as we approached treeline. Once in the basin below Devore, we were greeted by easy travel and turquoise lakes. Devore proved simple with 1 section of class 4 scrambling. Once down from the summit, we traversed the ridge North, passed White Goat peak and towards Tupshin. We neglected to read recent beta on Tupshin, so Jeff and I climbed the West Face, an extremely chossy and convoluted route that seems to see few accents. Once at the summit, we read recent beta and decided to descend the East face, only to realize we had left our poles at the base of the West Face, forcing us to descend the way we came. Although time consuming, I'm glad we climbed the route we did! From here we hiked down Devore Creek to Stehekin. Although we made it back after the bakery closed, we would be treated with fresh pastries and hot coffee in the morning!
Basin below Devore, looking to Tupshin
West Face of Tupshin
And thus concludes part 1 of the "big trip". What an amazing section of wild country!