Sunday, September 28, 2014

Central Cascades Alpine Lakes Wilderness: Chair Peak (almost)

A enjoyed my morning after running in Olympic NP and by about noon I was itching to go check out something else before picking Kimber up at the airport that night. I ended up shooting for a 4th class scramble up Chair Peak (6238ft). The peak is a popular mixed winter ascent but looked promising for a rock ascent.

Getting there only took about an hour and I was at the busy trail-head by 3:30pm. The trail I started on went towards Snow Lake, which is where I assume most of the people were headed. I dodged off the main trail at approximately 1.5 miles towards Source Lake, after which I scrambled a huge bolder field and ended up making a few moves to a small face where I encountered another bolder field. There I ran into two climbers coming off of Chair Peak.

Boulder field above Source Lake. 

I continued up past a small snow field where I had to choose to go up a gully on the right or left. I chose left and headed up a 4th class/low 5th class gully to top out and on a knife edge ridge. The rock was quite chossy(loose) forcing me to make every move with caution. I climbed up a few false summits on the sharp ridge to find myself separated from Chair Peak by a huge notch. After taking in my surroundings I bailed due to rock conditions and limited daylight as well as the fact that I was solo. Down climbing is never really fun but I made it back down safely and after a bit of bushwhacking I found my way back to a trail and after passing by Snow Lake was on my way back to the car.

Knife edge, chossy ridge.

View of Chair Peak from my false summit on the wrong side of the notch...
It was a quick trip but well worth it to check out the area a bit. There are endless peaks and trails in the Cascades! So much to explore! Apparently that area is also a common back-country ski area. My mind is salivating!

Snow Lake from above. 

Snow Lake.

Distance: 8.5miles
Time: 3hrs 30min
Elevation Gain: 3235ft

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