A quick note to say that I am working on the production of the Human Powered Hundred Peaks film. More information coming soon, but in the meantime, I am selling framed prints from our travels this summer to raise funds for film production. If you would like to support the project and the story of human powered expeditions, take a look at the online gallery where prints can be purchased!
This segment was perhaps my favorite; unbound beauty, vast glaciers and impressive peaks filled our souls.
After a wonderful rest day in marblemount we saddled up and rode to the Eldorado trailhead along the Cascade River. Here, we met up with Andrew Oakerlund, a fellow peakbagger also trying to climb the Bulgers this summer, albeit from his car. After stashing the bikes, we walked the road up to the Cascade Pass Trailhead, took the trail to Cascade Pass, then continued South along the Ptarmigan Traverse. At Cache Col we decided to leave our climbing gear as well as 4 days of food to lighten our packs. A quick scramble and some cam placements and we had a highly effective bear hang on a cliff!
We continued to Kool Aid Lake and settled in for the night. This was one of our easiest days and we were all grateful to have some extra rest.
Morning light on the north face of Mount Formidable
Continuing South along the Ptarmigan Traverse, our first challenge of the day was navigating the Middle Cascade Glacier. With the seasons low snow coverage, open crevasses were widespread and the best route was not obvious. After crossing the Glacier, we traversed to the South side of Mount Formidable to access the standard route.
A mountain goat in it's natural habitat. Sentinel, Old Guard, and Le Conte behind.
Just getting to the peak was more involved than we had expected and some route-finding errors and had us on the Summit later than we had hoped. It became apparent that we would not have time to summit anything else. From the summit, we backtracked to Kool-Aid Lake, then to Cache Col, then to Cascade Pass. I'm the evening light, we took the Sahale Arm trail to Sahale Glacier camp at the base of the Sahale Glacier. Though quite crowded, it was a spectacular place to spend the night.
Sahale Glacier Camp
Starting at dawn, we descended and traversed into Horseshoe Basin. Some routfinding here, but nothing harder than 3rd class. Once in the basin, we began the long traverse to Horseshoe. Easy slab walking gave way to loose talus and scree. The summit of Horseshoe was mostly class 2 with one final exposed 5th class move. Rope up if you like.
View of Boston and Forbidden from Horseshoe
From Horseshoe we traversed to Buckner, then headed back to our camp where we packed up our overnight gear. We carried overnight gear to the summit of Sahale, then left it on the ridge below Boston. Boston was a fun scramble (4th class) at the end of the day. Once back at the ridge we watched a huge plume of smoke rapidly grow from the Sourdough Ridge Fire. This impressive plume formed over the course of less than an hour.
Explosion of the Sourdough Ridge fire
From the ridge, we descended the Quien Sabe Glacier and traversed into Boston Basin. Another beautiful camp.
View of the Quien Sabe Glacier from Boston Basin
This morning we woke early and ascended to Catscratch gully by dawn. Some 4th class scrambling brought us to the base of the West Ridge. The West Ridge of Forbidden Peak is a 50 classic climb and did not disappoint! Good rock quality and stunning views made for my favorite climb of the trip.
Andrew climbing up the West Ridge
The Eldorado Massif in morning might. Perhaps my favorite image I captured
While the climb was beautiful, it was saddening to see such a drastic change in one of my favorite places over just a years time. 2022 had an above average snowpack, and 2023 below average. Still, significan Ice loss occurred over just 1 year. I can't imagine what this place will look like just 10-20 years in the future. I'm just glad I get to spend as much time up here as I do.
From the Summit, we descended back to Boston Basin, then traversed into Torment basin. We gained the ridge and continued North towards Eldorado. This traverse was absolutely amazing. Endless views of a spectacular setting kept our spirits high, despite a worrisome forecast.
Jeff, Uhuru, and Andrew marvel at the views
Once on the Inspiration Glacier, it was smooth sailing to Eldorado high camp. We left our gear and jetted up Eldorado in the afternoon. We made it back to camp for some evening relaxing and an early bed time.
3 AM wake up due to thunder in the forecast. We crossed the inspiration Glacier in the dark, then crossed to the McAllister Glacier and ascended towards Dorado needle. Large crevasses and exposed ice provided some route-findining practice in the dark.
Navigating the McAllister glacier in the dark
Getting light at the base of the peak, we climbed to the summit. Smoke from the Sourdough ridge fire was widespread and visibility was limited. From the summit, we backtracked to the Inspiration Glacier, crossed the Klawatti-Austera Col, then climbed Austera. Next was the long trek to Primus Peak. Though far, the travel was easy and scrambling minimal.
Ascending the Glacier towards Primus
From Primus, it was back to Klawatti for our last peak. We expected afternoon thunderstorms, but they hadn't arrived yet. I guess we were going to get all 4 peaks today. With clouds rolling in, we moved fast and made it back to Eldorado high camp before the rain. We were stoked to have completed the Inspiration Peaks 1/2 day ahead of schedule!
From camp we walked down the Eldorado Trail providing us with plenty of slippery rocks and wet brush.
A resident Marmot in the boulderfield
Once at the trailhead, we rode down to Marblemount, then through Concrete to resupply and up to the Shannon Ridge Trailhead at the base of Mount Shuksan where Andrew was waiting for us. I guess we were a good team!
Thus concludes the Cascade Pass segment. Next Up: Shuksan, Baker, and the Chilliwacks!