Ascent of Luna Peak on 2018-10-20

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Saturday, October 20, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Luna Peak
    Elevation:8311 ft / 2533 m

Ascent Trip Report

October 20, 2018: 12:30am-4:59pm

New fastest known time: 16 hours 29 minutes car to car

48 miles, 12,200ft gain

I had recently finished climbing the Bulgers, and figured I might as well climb the extra seven mountains that would be on a stricter definition of the Washington top 100. Luna is one of those seven mountains. I was available for one day over the weekend, so I thought I’d try to squeeze Luna peak into that one day. Amazingly it hadn’t snowed for the past 10 days, and most of the upper route on Luna Peak is on south facing aspects. This meant I had a good chance of getting a snow-free ascent of Luna, which is pretty surprising for late October.

My time constraint was that I needed to be back in Seattle at a reasonable hour Saturday night to get ready for a hiking/packrafting trip Sunday to Blanca Lake. I estimated based on my previous long day trips that I would average about 2.5 miles per hour, which would put the trip around 20 hours. So I would have to start very early to get back at a reasonable hour Saturday night.

I left work at 3pm Friday afternoon and made it to the Ross Dam trailhead by 7pm. After eating some pasta I curled up in the back of the car and was asleep by 7:30pm. Somehow I have an ability to fall asleep almost whenever I want to, which is pretty useful on trips like this. It helps, of course, that the sun sets around 6:15pm now, so it was very dark out by the time I went to sleep.

My alarm woke me up at midnight and I officially left the car at 12:30am. I decided to gamble that almost all the snow on the upper mountain that had fallen over the past month had melted out, so instead of crampons and ice axe I just brought microspikes and hiking poles. This was mostly just in case the summit ridge was icy. I wore trail runners and carried some warm clothing, but otherwise tried to go light.

I hiked the 17-mile trail section to a bit past Luna camp, then turned into the woods at a possible logjam crossing based on a GPS track Jake Robinson had given me from his friend Brad. It was 6am and there was still 1.5 hours til sunrise, so the bushwhacking was a bit slow going. I found the logjam, which was covered in ice, but managed to crawl across.

From there I bushwhacked through dense forest 0.5 miles to Access Creek, and crossed to the north side. The forest is mostly open with an occasional climbers trail on that side. Finally the sun rose and I could bushwhack in the light. I soon reached the cirque below the east face of Luna and scrambled up a gully to the southeast ridge. The view of the pickets there was amazing.

I traversed snow-free heather slopes and scrambled to Luna Col, then hiked up to the false summit. I ditched my poles at the false summit and scrambled the snow-covered 4th class ridge to the true summit. In the register I noticed Sean O'Rourke's time was 9hr 40min to the summit. I looked at my watch, and it had taken me 9hr 45 min. It appeared if I hustled back down, I might be able to get back before dark, and possibly even set a new FKT.

I admired the view a bit longer, then scrambled back to my poles. I retraced my route back, this time wading across Big Beaver Creek. The crossing just above the Access Creek confluence was only about shin deep and 10ft wide. I jogged most of the trail back, arriving at the car at 4:59pm.

I got back to Seattle for dinner time, and realized my fitbit was at 95,000 steps. I couldn't resist pushing it up to an even 100,000, so ended up walking around the neighborhood for another 2.5 miles to get it up to a clean 100,000 steps for the day.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
Summary Total Data

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