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Ascent of Lightning Peak on 2020-05-07

Climber: Jerrick Linde

Others in Party:Nicole F.
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, May 7, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Lightning Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:4654 ft / 1418 m

Ascent Trip Report

I have been wanting to hit this peak for a few years. Today's trip was intended to be more exploratory in nature to see what snow conditions were like. My original intent was to make it just to the base of the approach gully evaluate and turn around. I had no plans on really doing close to 4,000 feet of elevation gain due to being stuck at home for the last month and not in top shape. Anyways since I did go all the way to one of the Lightning peaks here is the report:

The copper creek trail at this time was in great shape and snow free. There were a few downed trees on the trail but they were easily crossed. We followed the trail to the loop at the top and headed left towards the saddle. From the saddle we found a nice climbers path heading up the ridge line. For the most part the path is very clear and easily followed. At one point it leads to a near vertical rock wall that we did not see an easy way around. I scrambled to the top of this wall and found that the path continued. The scramble up is fairly easy but some may want a rope to help on the way back down. From this point on we started running into intermittent snow that obscured the path. At around 3,400 feet the snow became continuous and made navigation more challenging. In general we kept proceeding up hill along the path of least resistance. At one point my partner noticed an obviously saw cut tree around 3 inches in diameter which confirmed we were still going the correct way. As we proceeded to the final approach gully we would find saw cut branches and trees.

At roughly 3,600 feet we came out into the open and were able to examine what I originally came to do. Upon examination it appeared the final quarter mile to the Timber/Lightning ridge looked ok and fairly easy so we decided to throw on our crampons and get our ice axes out and head on up. Ok, it did not turn out as easy or quick to do as we thought it may go. Overall snow conditions were good on the approach. There were some very hard patches so Crampons turned out to be a good choice. On our way up we got a little further to the west side(climbers right) of the approach being tempted to just head right up between the two Lightning peaks. I had read before that this is very steep and that we most likely want to avoid doing this so we had to do a short steep traverse over to our intended destination to gain the ridge.

Upon gaining the ridge I thought it would be easy going. Nope, the first thing I saw on the opposite side of the ridge was a nice steep drop off covered in snow. This snow had the sun shining on it for most of the day making it very loose and wanting to move. The snow I did touch easily broke off and started sliding down the slope. I had my doubts about this snow being able to support any weight let alone being being able to arrest in it if I slid. At this point I figured I would have to turn around but I noticed that the moat around the rocky outcropping was just large enough to fit into and safely move across this section. This brought me to the next problem, a huge cornice hanging over the next slope I would have to traverse. After some deliberation we decided to do a quick short traverse which finally let us gain the ridge line leading to Lightning peak. From here on the route was pretty much snow free and became a rock scramble. We were able to quickly scramble to the lower lightning peak and find the summit register located on it. The register was filled with water. We emptied the water out and placed it back. We thought about going for the other Lightning summit but due to the lateness of the day and the rising temperatures decided this could make our return trip back down the snow filled gully problematic.

Total time for the trip was around seven hours and twenty minutes.

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Jerrick Linde
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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