Finally, I found a gully that split some huge cliffs and we stumbled out into a nice rocky basin. It looked like a magical place to visit. The trail descended for a while and entered back into the forest. We took a break in the rare direct sunshine and made up a game: rock-tarn-skip. Like so many times I have been to Cascade Pass, we hiked up the trail in a cloud. Overall the glaciers were in great shape and very easy to navigate. Tour up the Le Conte Glacier and climb Le Conte and Sentinel. We descended down the snowfield and then cut left when we found a trace of a goat trail. It looked dangerously steep at first, but was totally fine once we dropped out of the clouds. Featured The Ptarmigan Traverse can be done as a four-day ski program, a five-day mountaineering program without any summits, or as a seven-day program with a couple of different climbing objectives on the route. Grade I: Normally requires several hours; can be of any difficulty, Grade II: Requires half a day; any technical difficulty, Grade III: Requires a day to do the technical portion; any technical difficulty, Grade IV: Requires a full day for the technical portion; the hardest pitch is usually no less than 5.7 (in the YDS rating), Grade V: Requires a day and a half; the hardest pitch is usually 5.8 or harder, Grade VI: A multi-day excursion with difficult free climbing and/or aid climbing. Pricing varies based on age, trip cost, trip length, and level of coverage. Eventually it was time to leave. Climb up the Dana Glacier and descend south onto Itswoot Ridge and camp with view of Glacier Peak. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. I had just read this. However, once you go over Dome and head through the Gunsights, you are in truly wild terrain. Literally the first thing I did was map out a high route from Cascade Pass to the summit of Glacier Peak, which I called the Glacier Peak High Route. This is supposed to be a chill glacier crossing, but in a complete whiteout, it was quite cold and disorienting. Wasn’t west supposed to be the best? Thanks Mike! A warm, full zip jacket with hood is recommended and ideal, Helly Hansen Vanir, Feathered Friends Volant, Marmot Guide’s Down Hoody, Outdoor Research Virtuoso Hoody, This piece with a high SPF rating and lightweight fabric offers protection from high altitude sun, Softshell pants are water resistant, yet highly breathable and durable. I am definitely not in track shape anymore! It epitomizes remoteness, wildness, and alpine adventure. Thanks Cherie! Entering and exiting via Cascade Pass. Ptarmigan Traverse is a 30.6 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Marblemount, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. We were pleasantly greeted by a stunning view of Dome Peak and the Gunsights! I was very impressed that the original 1938 party found this weakness. After a year and a half of dating and each going on separate week-long trips last year (Nate to Mt Robson and me to the Sierras) we decided that it was time for a week long trip of our own. Looking up, there must have been 20 waterfalls of substantial size, all suspended high in this steep cirque. Yet another magical spot in the North Cascades. They are similar in statistics and character, but very different in scenery and remoteness. And of course, you’ll be camping Mountain Madness style: Four members of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club made the first crossing of this route in July 1938. After a life-changing experience on the Sierra High Route last summer, I returned to my home mountains with grand intentions to bring Roper’s vision of high, non-technical cross country travel to the Cascades. Will be backpacking (in the American sense of the term) across the Ptarmigan traverse in Washington State USA for four nights the first week of October (high route above timberline). It takes a certain type of individual to go along with my crazy plans, especially with a questionable weather forecast. We made camp at the lower lake to get away from this jerk. The lower part of the Middle Cascade Glacier came into view. ALL WOMEN'S TRIP! I could not think of a more beautiful spot to climb perfect granite in the Cascades. No pictures, no written account, nothing. The saddle was cold, foggy, and windy, but there were some really nice bivy spots with rock walls, so we took a break here. In some ways, the lack of visibility made everything feel even more epic, even though we could not see the huge peaks around us. Nowadays, many groups tackle the traverse every summer. Drones are illegal in wilderness areas! People typically start at Cascade Pass. It was striking to look back at the entirety of the Bath Lakes High Route. This majestic summer alpine traverse, considered the best in the Cascade Range, is the oldest and most famous high route in the Pacific Northwest. It began to rain. Your trip will be cancelled from the date written notice is received. It is on nearly every Washington mountaineer’s dream list. The mountains around me were still dark shadows, but the sky was already pink and purple. August 7 - 12, 2020. Their route covered the Cascade Crest from Cascade Pass to a valley just north of Glacier Peak, in the Glacier Peak Wilderness area. Sahale Arm via Cascade Pass. Great for colder conditions over a pair of long underwear or tights higher on the mountain or summit day, Outdoor Research Voodoo, Mountain Hardwear Touren, Patagonia Guide, waterproof and breathable with side zips (minimum of ¾ zips recommended) Gore-Tex or equivalent, moleskin/blister kit, Band-aids, athletic tape, ibuprofen, personal medications, ect. This itinerary is subject to change due to inclement weather, unsafe route conditions, and other reasons beyond our control. Along the way, you’ll enjoy spectacular campsites, climb some peaks, and take a soulful journey away from all the “noise and haste” of modern life. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. So far, it was looking like the weather might actually cooperate! I had never seen any photos of this spot, but it sounded enticing. Finally, we got to snow and then climbed up to Totem Pass. I remember first seeing an internet photo of Image Lake and immediately falling in love with the Glacier Peak Wilderness, even before I had ever visited. Services available may include, but are not limited to, helicopter evacuation, medical care, etc. We followed the GPS and a compass bearing, heading towards the col that would lead us across the crest. Needless to say, it completely deserves the reputation. The Ptarmigan Traverse is supposed to be the most scenic high alpine route in the US, weaving its way along the Cascade Crest. Bring two just in case! namesnotmark 2 years ago Ptarmigan Traverse. Two synthetic or merino wool t-shirts. As we would learn, one mile either way makes a world of difference with the weather. Thanks for sharing your vast knowledge. A light drizzle accompanied our dinner cooking. We were glad we did not attempt such a long heather battle. Ptarmigan Ski Traverse The oldest and most famous high alpine traverse in the North Cascades and you get to make turns! We had challenges – mostly the poor weather – that were frustrating in the moment, but ultimately made the experience so much more rewarding. A chossy descent led us down to the White Rock Lakes. Travel insurance with trip cancellation, medical and evacuation policy, $400 deposit at time of registration, which includes a $200 non-refundable registration fee, The balance can be paid by check, wire transfer, ACH or credit card with a 3% convenience fee. Although the peaks were still hidden, the setting here was incredible. News Link: Colin Abercrombie and Leor Pantilat completed the famous Ptarmigan Traverse in the North Cascades of Washington in 14 hours 36 minutes in late July.The two men timed the route from the Cascade Pass trailhead to the Downey Creek trailhead. We plunged down to the Suiattle River Trail, which we followed out to the trailhead. In the warm morning light, everything felt so hopeful and alive. Bring plenty of sun block with SPF of 40 or more. It was a rare day that I kept my leg thermals on as we started hiking in the morning. It crosses 30 miles of rugged North Cascade terrain from Cascade Pass to the Suiattle River, across glaciers and above truly wild valleys. Required fields are marked *. Sometimes you just have to keep opening the bag more and more and overstuffing it. The Ptarmigan Traverse is very popular, and thus there is a well defined trail through the heather sections. So this is what 40% chance of showers means in the Cascades? Ptarmigan Traverse Cascades + 2 First Ascents in 3 Days + Matterhorn Ultraks Video +ays Ptarmigan Traverse - N Cascades - WA - Trip report with pictures from CascadeClimbers.com Felix Berg and Co : Two first ascents in three days - from Stefan Nestler at Adventure Mountain This is a multi-day alpine ridge traverse off trail which takes 5-8 days depending on the desired intensity and 'extracurricular' activities. A few more steps and I stood atop Dome Peak, elevation 8,924 ft! From Kool Aid Lake, there is an obvious rock cleft extending west from Arts Knoll that seems to impede progress. We followed the brushy trail down and traversing. We did not waste too much time, since we knew a real soaker of a storm was headed our way by the evening and we had something like 24 miles to go even by the shortest route out. We found a lovely tarn, flat campsites, and beautiful meadows abound. With the personal challenges I have been facing, I really wanted splitter weather and perfect conditions this summer. It's easy to underestimate the amount necessary for your trip! Must be fit to climbing boots prior to trip, new-matic/hybrid type, 4' of perlon accessory cord for prussik materials (6mm diameter), 100% UV protection with side shields and a hard-sided storage case, A visor hat with a good brim is essential for protection from the sun, lightweight gloves with leather palm for rope work, check boot fir to make sure they work together, waterproof and crampon compatible (HIGHLY recommended from July -October), Scarpa Charmoz, La Sportiva Trango Tower, Salewa Raven, Salewa Crow, Trail shoes for when at campgrounds and booties/sandals/Crocs for basecamps when weather and season allow. I do not know if there is more magical feeling than waking up after the storm to clear Cascade skies and alpine views. Even when things are not going your way, there are incredible opportunities during those fleeting moments of sunshine and a certain mystique beauty in the gloom. Hi all, I'm from NJ and was looking into a backpacking and/or climbing trip in the cascades and was reading about the Ptarmigan Traverse. As the sun started to come up, the rest of the crew got up to appreciate the sublime morning. The views of Sinister and the Gunsights were stunning. It was a moody morning, with Johannesburg hiding in the clouds. The Ptarmigan Climbing Club made numerous first ascents along the route – an effort that is still recognized as one of the greatest feats in the North Cascades… ever. Just one week before, Logan and I made the first recorded summer crossing of the Alpine Lakes Crest Traverse, a comparable high route from Snoqualmie Pass to Mt. We side hilled easy snow high above rugged cliffs and endless waterfalls that spilled into the brushy valley floor. We woke up the next morning to similar weather as the evening before. Colorado ice courses and guided climbs, Featured The Ptarmigan Traverse begins with 3.7 miles of switchbacks through old-growth forest to Cascade Pass, one of the prettiest day-hiking destinations in the Northwest. Fog swooped in and out with a light mist, creating an eerie feel to the huge mountains around us. After one spicy face move, I found myself walking a narrow “sidewalk in the sky” with incredible exposure on either side! Regarded by many to be the most beautiful mountaineering route in the country, the Ptarmigan Traverse is also considered one of the finest ski-traverses. In the dark, I inspected it very carefully and miraculously found the leak and patched it! Ptarmigan Traverse is located in remote wilderness of Washington State. We decided to call this unnamed glacier the “Parmesan Glacier”, since after all, we were on the Parmesan Traverse. The Ptarmigan Traverse snakes its way back and forth on either side of the crest. The Ptarmigan Traverse is unrelenting: 35 off-trail miles with 25,000 feet of elevation change along a series of jagged peaks in Washington state’s … Its a few pounds swing depending on decisions, but im totally paranoid about being underprepared, and also lazy about carrying extra weight! If your days seem to fly by too fast, you’re probably not suffering enough. For thirteen days, Calder Bressler, Bill Cox, Ray Clough and Tom Myers pioneered the entire route from Dome Peak to Cascade Pass and made many first ascents. In the swirling clouds, it felt like we were climbing into the abyss. Luckily, our planned camps were both on the east side. At its low point, we crossed a beautiful section of rushing waterfalls and lush flowers. It does see high traffic, so it does not feel as remote as it could. Along with the Isolation Traverse and routes in the Pickets, the Ptarmigan Traverse is among the rare glaciated adventures left in the lower 48 of the U.S. that gets you out in an environment disappearing before our eyes. Give you shelter from the storm — tents are provided! We packed up quickly and got on the move, trying to make the best of the good weather. As we climbed higher, we watched the edge of a thick marine layer of clouds begin to overflow the crest. This would be an experience I will remember for years, regardless of what happens with the weather. Lowell Skoog indicates that the Ptarmigan is about 30 miles long with roughly 11,000 feet of climbing. When I was younger, I would have been so frustrated with the weather. After another short climb, the clouds rolled in again and we began a long traversing descent, mostly on snow, towards the Le Conte Glacier. In some conditions, this can be done as a very strenuous backcountry wilderness trek. 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