Ascent of Black Peak on 2018-08-24

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Friday, August 24, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Black Peak
    Elevation:8970 ft / 2734 m

Ascent Trip Report

Eric Gilbertson

August 24, 2018, 3:15pm – 8pm

I’d recently returned from climbing a bunch of country highpoints in Africa and Saudi Arabia, and did a quick day trip of Mt Stuart on Wednesday. Katie needed the car on Thursday and Friday, so I hung around town and got some work done.

Katie made it back to town mid day Friday, so I left town at noon. It looked like I might just barely have enough time to squeeze in Black Peak before my plan to meet Birkan at the Cascade Pass trailhead that night. I’d already climbed Black Peak back in 2016, but was trying to tighten my Bulger completion time window, so needed to do it again.

There was initially some confusion whether Black Peak was even open for climbing. When I returned to the US on Aug 20 it looked like almost the entire section of national forest east of the crest was closed due to forest fires. Multiple sources on the Okanogan national forest website showed the approach trail to Black Peak as closed. However, I saw a few nwhikers and peakbagger reports of people climbing it just a few weeks earlier in August.

I figured I’d give it a try, and if it was closed I’d just turn around and get to the Cascade Pass trailhead a bit earlier than expected. I arrived at Rainy Pass at 3pm, and it appeared the trailhead was actually open. I think it in fact had opened that day, and just wasn’t posted online yet.

I quickly scarfed down some food and was moving by 3:15pm up the Maple Pass trail. There were quite a few people
hiking down, and it was indeed late in the day for me to be going up. But I remembered the previous time I’d climbed Black Peak it had taken 6 hours round trip. I figured I could maybe shave a bit of time off that and possibly even get back before sunset.

I soon reached Heather Pass, and got a good view of Black Peak. The air was kind of smoky, but I could still see the summit. I followed the well-defined climbers trail through the meadow, then followed cairns through the talus to Lewis Lake. I followed the trail around the right side of the lake, then ascended up to Wing Lake and took a short break.

I ascended a scree slope above Wing Lake to the base of a big snow slope. I’d brought my aluminum crampons, but the snow was soft enough that I could easily cross to the scree on the other side, so never needed the crampons. I quickly ascended the steep scree and talus up to the pass just west of the summit.

At the pass I turned right and ascended the ridge, soon ditching my poles when the terrain turned to third class. I scrambled up the ridge, following occasional cairns, then turned right following a big ledge until I was directly beneath the summit. From here I made the short 4th class scramble to the top. The scramble seemed much easier this time then the last, but that’s probably a combination of it not being snow covered, and of me being more comfortable on 4th class terrain after climbing a lot of it this summer.

There was no summit register, and this tends to be the case on the more popular peaks for some reason. I took a few pictures, then carefully downclimbed back to the ledge, and scrambled down to my poles. I returned the way I came, getting a bit of glissading in on the snow slope.

When I reached the trial I jogged much of the way back, and reached the car at 8pm. Somehow I shaved over an hour off my previous time, so did the climb in 4:45 round trip.

I ate a quick snack in the car, then drove down to Cascade Pass by 10:30pm to meet Birkan. Our plan was to climb Boston Peak and Sahale peak as a daytrip the next day.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
Summary Total Data

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