Ascent of Gray Peak on 2013-09-01

Climber: Kyle Bretherton

Date:Sunday, September 1, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Gray Peak
    Elevation:8082 ft / 2463 m

Ascent Trip Report

For this year's annual Bretherton-Zobel family Labor Day backpacking trip, we decided, after a somewhat exciting negotiation session, to go to Courtney and Star Peaks in the Sawtooth Crest. On Saturday, we rendezvoused in Twisp at the crack of 11:30, and, after doing the car swap and eating lunch, left the West Fork Buttermilk Creek trail head at 1:30. My first mistake was to leave my hiking shoes in the car that remained at the end of the trail. The result was that I did the entire trip in Adidas Sambas. This trail is rather thankless, at least when you're wearing a heavy pack. The trail is steep enough to be tiring, but not steep enough that vertical can be gained quickly. As a result, after climbing 7 miles and 3300' vertical feet in this fashion, we were quite fatigued and barely had the oomph to make it to a campsite at Star Lake. There would be no dusk patrol scramble today. The next morning, after a very horrible night of sleep, I scrambled up Courtney Peak to watch the sunrise. I got to watch the light develop as I went up the ridge and just as I topped out, the sun peeked above the Okanogan Highlands. As far as I know, this was the first time that I have watched the sunrise from a summit, but I know that it will not be my last. There is nothing hard about climbing Courtney Peak from this route, and the first 2/3 or so of the climb is on a faint use trail. The summit register is in a Nalgene, and I almost stole it since our family was short a water bottle, before realizing something was inside. Even after I climbed Courtney, there was still a long wait for the sleepier party members to wake up. After breakfast, at the leisurely hour of 10, everyone headed to Star. Note that the route up Star does not go up the ridge from Fish Creek Pass (there does not appear to be a feasible scramble route up there). Instead, make an upward traverse from the lake away from Fish Creek Pass to a scree slope where a use trail can be found which gains the ridge. At first the trail is pretty obvious, but a some point, it disappears. From there, simply head in the direction of the summit until you are there (yes, what appears to be the summit from this side is). On the summit, we met an Israeli man who was part of a group who were living in the mountains for a month as if they were in the stone age (self-made deerskin clothes, getting food by hunting and foraging, etc). Later that day we would meet several other members of that group. After heading down from Star, we had lunch and then completed the short hike to Tuckaway Lake, our next camp site. The rest of the day was spent exploring and making aborted attempts to swim in the lake. Sunset was viewed from an unnamed peak (7960+ ft) Northwest of the lake. It was a double-wammy sunset, first the sun went behind the clouds, then a colorful sunburst could be seen beneath. The next day, we got up early because we wanted to spend the afternoon at Slidewaters in Chelan. We hiked up Oval Pass (I took a quick side-trip to Gray Peak), then down a rather foot-bashing 8 miles to Eagle Creek trailhead, where we arrived at 11:30.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2082 ft / 634 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5882 ft / 1791 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.5 mi / 21.7 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1+
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Weather:Breezy, Clear
clear, hot in the day, cold at night
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2082 ft / 634 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1282 ft / 391 m; Extra: 800 ft / 243m
    Loss on way in:800 ft / 243 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8.1 km
    Route:Chelan Crest trail
    Start Trailhead:Chelan Crest trail  6800 ft / 2072 m
    Time:21 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5082 ft / 1548 m
    Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Route:Oval Creek trail
    End Trailhead:Eagle Creek trailhead  3000 ft / 914 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Sawtooth Crest backpack (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Courtney Peak2013-08-314592 ft / 1400 m
2Star Peak2013-08-311617 ft / 493 m
3Gray Peak2013-09-012082 ft / 635 m
Total Trip Gain: 8291 ft / 2528 m    Total Trip Loss: 9291 ft / 2833 m

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