With yet another weekend of beautiful weather forecasts, Chris Morehead, Jon Toner and I elected to have a go at the Northeast Ridge on Black Peak, near Rainy Pass. At the last moment, Lisa, Jon’s wife, decided to come along, rounding out our party. We departed Seattle at the leisurely hour of 830, checked at the Marblemount Ranger station to confirm that we did not need a backcountry permit, as Wing Lake, where we planned to camp, is just outside of the NCNP (the NE ridge and summit of Black Peak actually form the boundary line). The ranger did inform us that Lewis and Wing Lakes have been getting “hammered” with people, and that there are many toilet tissue flowers near the lakes. An unfortunate reality of many highly traveled and completely unregulated areas. The upshot is that we didn’t need a permit, which is lucky as we probably wouldn’t have gotten one.
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Inspired by recent trip reports from a number of friends, Jon Toner and I set out last Monday with the ambitious plan of climbing some combination of peaks in the Bridge Creek/Park Creek area of the North Cascades over a 5 day period. On our list were the Northeast Buttress of Goode, the Northeast Buttress of Booker, the Southeast ridge of Buckner, and potentially something on Stormking or Logan. We ended up climbing only one of these, but what a climb it was!
We met at the Sedro Wooley park and ride, departing around 9 AM Monday morning. Obtaining a permit from the Marblemount Ranger Station we continued on to just east of Rainy Pass to the Bridge Creek trailhead. By noon we were underway with 5 days of food, a small rack, and about 15 miles to cover. The first 10 miles are an easy walk along the PCT, slightly downhill to the junction of the North fork bridge creek trail. Here I stashed my approach shoes and switched to boots, which lightened my pack not nearly as much as I would have liked.
After a weekend of climbing disappointment I wasn’t willing to waste another day doing nothing and resolved I would head up I-90 on Monday to scramble Kaleetan Peak. I had previously tried Kaleetan maybe 5 years ago, but my then nascent navigational skills proved no match for the very easy navigational challenge this now presents. More importantly I wanted to do this as a solo scramble, something relatively new for me. I have previously done some solo climbing, some of it quite a bit more challenging technically, but I haven’t really done any climbs alone. My past soloing has been with other people around, who knew what I was up to and where I was. Kaleetan, while certainly not far off the beaten track, is a bit farther out there, proverbially speaking, than I have previously felt comfortable doing alone. I was curious to see how I would react to the solitude, as I have generally enjoyed climbing from a social perspective. Knowing that something as slight as a rolled ankle could represent a significant challenge for self-rescue gave me some food for thought.