Dark Peak/Dark Glacier

Dark Peak offers a moderate glacier climb to fantastic views. The price of admission is high, however, due to remoteness, accessibility, and a good dose of unpleasant bushwhacking. This climb requires three days to complete.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Take SR 97 to Chelan. Alternatively, take SR 971 north from SR 97 before reaching Chelan and continue on to Fields Point Landing, depending on where you have arranged transportation to Stehekin.  There are two primary options to get to Stehekin, by ferry or by plane.  Pick an option that matches your team's budget and time constraints.  From Stehekin take prearranged transportation to High Bridge (call the Lodge in Stehekin) and the Agnes Creek trailhead (1,700 ft).

APPROACH

Hike the Agnes Creek Trail approximately 5 miles to Five Mile Camp (2,200 ft).  Camp here or continue on another three miles to Swamp Creek Camp (2,800 ft).  

ASCENT ROUTE

From Swamp Creek Camp look for the signed Swamp Creek Trail located just past the creek.  Follow this abandoned trail (faint and hard to follow) as it switchbacks for ~800 feet over 1 to 1.5 miles.  Look for logs crossing the creek at around 3,600 ft elevation.  After crossing the creek, follow along its north bank.  There is a faint trail here but it peters out soon. You will have to negotiate several strips of alder, some thicker than others.  

At around 4,100 ft elevation drop down to the creek for a view up to the lower basin below the Dark Glacier.  Continue along the creek and at about 4,300 ft (4-5 hours from Swamp Creek Camp) you will reach the lower basin.  This basin has a prominent waterfall. Head up the forested slopes left of it (Class 2-3) taking the path of least resistance (thinnest vegetation).  Continue on to the upper basin at about 5,100 ft.  The Dark Glacier should now be visible.  

Continue up to a third, smaller basin and the base of the glacier. Rope up as this glacier is crevassed.  A route up the right side of the glacier is reported as good, but you will need to pick a line that makes sense based on conditions.  Continue up and left to a spur west of the summit of Dark Peak, then scramble to the summit (exposed, loose, Class 2-3).

DESCENT ROUTE

Descend the climbing route.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENTTIME (HR)ELEVATION GAIN (FT)
Trailhead to Camp 3-4 1,100
Camp to Summit 8-10 5,600
Summit to Camp 6-8 -5,600
Camp to Trailhead 3-4 -1,100

EQUIPMENT

Standard glacier equipment.

NOTES

  • Summit day is long and strenuous with a ton of bushwhacking and some routefinding challenges. 
  • Finding the log crossing at Swamp Creek and the right path out of the lower basin are critical to success.
  • Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb
  • Length: 28.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 6,800 ft
  • 8,504 ft
Map
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
  • USGS Agnes Mountain
  • USGS Mt Lyall
Activities

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