Ascent of Oval Peak on 2022-06-04

Climber: Reed Russell

Others in Party:Christian Rudnick
Jamie Wise
Date:Saturday, June 4, 2022
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Oval Peak
    Elevation:8795 ft / 2680 m

Ascent Trip Report

Left Tacoma about 0115, arrived at West Fork Buttermilk TH at 0525, Jamie and Matt had slept at the TH and Chris and Isaac arrived shortly after myself. Great drive to TH, but the West Fork Buttermilk Trail is in easily the worst shape of any that I've been on. We started around 0615 and almost immediately encountered the first of what I eventually counted on the way back 351 individual blow downs, which required us to go over, under, or completely diverted our path. I started counting on the way back almost as a joke, and probably missed 50 or so additional blowdowns, so prepare to negotiate 800+ both ways. 4.5 m and 1500' of elevation took us 3 hours, which is insane.

The first creek crossing was fine, big log to walk/scoot over. The trail itself is wide and beaten in, it was really wet though with all the recent melt. I started in runners but changed to my Nepals at consistent snow, which I believe occurred around 5k'. We opted to leave the trail at the "shortcut" section, which followed the drainage down from Lake 6936, and required us to cross. We chose to gain some elevation and then find a suitable spot to cross (I'll add further details later.) There's still some snow bridges hanging around, enough logs too it shouldn't be an issue. If you keep to the high area on the spur, you can avoid some snow on the way up/down.

We put on snowshoes immediately following the crossing, and kept them on the remainder of the trip. Snow wasn't too terrible in the morning, but progressively degraded. It rained on us much of the day, and we were within the clouds at around 7k'. We walked a little too far north past the west side of the lake, and then button-hooked back south to make the saddle. The ridge is a mix of exposed rock, and wet snow. The rock had some sections of worn in climbers path that might make things easier on the ascent. On the summit we found the survey marker and register, but had zero views until walking down the ridge, where I could briefly identify Buttermilk Ridge and East Oval Lake. It did become bizarrely warm for a little while on top.

Big thanks to Jamie and Matt for putting in most of the work on the way up, I was having a rough day. We were all very thankful to be done with this one, and I highly doubt I would come back from this direction to hit Courtney/Star this year. We really should consider carpet bombing the entire trail.

13.25 m
4760' gain
~13 hours
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4821 ft / 1469 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4821 ft / 1469 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Raining, Cool, Calm, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4821 ft / 1469 m
    Distance:13.3 mi / 21.3 km
    Route:W. Fork Buttermilk to South Ridge
    Start Trailhead:West Fork Buttermilk   3974 ft / 1211 m
    Time:7 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4821 ft / 1469 m
    Route:South Ridge to W. Fork Buttermilk
    End Trailhead:West Fork Buttermilk  3974 ft / 1211 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Reed Russell
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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