Ascent of Mount Daniel-Middle Summit on 2013-09-08

Climber: Chad Straub

Others in Party:Colin
Date:Sunday, September 8, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Daniel-Middle Summit
    Elevation:7959 ft / 2425 m

Ascent Trip Report

Colin and I pulled into the Tucquala Meadows Trailhead around 8:30 Saturday night with just enough light left to see a gaggle of geese in the marshy lake. A clear starry sky looked promising until light rain began to fall. After dinner and a gear check we crashed out with four hours left before the planned 2 am wakeup call, hopeful for better weather to come.

We were climbing up the Cathedral Trail by 2:45 and to Peggys Pond before sunrise. After leaving the PCT there are two short cliffy sections where the trail fades into the rock. We topped off on water while the morning light crept over Cathedral Rock.

We had our first glimpse of Daniels East Peak and Hyas Glacier as we began up the SE Ridge. A few steps later Spade Mountain and Circle Lake came into view, and the the true summit of the highest point in King or Kittatas Counties.

After passing by the top of Hyas Glacier we crossed below the East Peak and the "Middle Summit" or false summit on a narrowing boot path through crumbling gravel. We paused to admire the massive Lynch Glacier before we continued up the gentle rocky summit slope to the base of a small pinnacle.

A decent bootpath leads up to the top, but we elected to take advantage of a couple fun class 3 moves on climbers right. From the summit Mount Daniel seems to tower above Hinman though it's obvious that it doesn't have much height over the rest of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Strong gusts of cold wind broke through the still morning air as we neared the large snow fields covering Mount Daniels glaciers. At 10 am we had the top to ourselves and the sun was just beginning to warm up. We ducked behind the summit block and relaxed in the sunshine for about 2 hours.

Before scrambling up the middle Summit Colin convinced me to follow him down the South Ridge for a closer look at Venus and Spade Lakes. They both look prime for camping and as a mid point to climb Mount Hinman.

The steep spire on the North end of the Middle Summit looked like it may be a few inches higher than the southern bump we topped out on, so I eliminated any doubt. 3 skiers/splitboarders who's camp we passed that morning reached the East Peak while I was taking pictures, and as we headed down they launched into the Hyas Glacier and out of sight with a "whooo!"

The East Peak also offered some optional scrambling, and we jumped on the opportunity. A USGS plaque marks the summit, I believe it is the only one on the mountain. Low clouds poured over the true summit with the increasing wind while we plotted our decent route.

We decided to descend via the East ridge, visiting 2 more small peaks along the way. This provided a great perspective on Cathedral Rock in the afternoon light, as well as an unobstructed view of Granite Mountain and upper and lower Hyas Lakes.

We made it back to the trailhead just before dark.We were lucky to have such perfect weather and a heavy melt out this season, or we may have had difficulty reaching the summit even with such an early start time.

More pics and route map @
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:299 ft / 91 m
    Total Elevation Loss:409 ft / 124 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Very Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:299 ft / 91 m
    Distance:0.5 mi / 0.8 km
    Start Trailhead:South Ridge Venus Lake overlook  7660 ft / 2334 m
    Time:25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:409 ft / 124 m
    Distance:0.5 mi / 0.8 km
    End Trailhead:Trail below East Peak  7550 ft / 2301 m
    Time:20 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Mount Daniels

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Daniel2013-09-085560 ft / 1695 m
2Mount Daniel-Middle Summit2013-09-08299 ft / 91 m
3Mount Daniel-East Peak2013-09-08349 ft / 106 m
Total Trip Gain: 6208 ft / 1892 m    Total Trip Loss: 2058 ft / 627 m

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