Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Big Chiwaukum

An enjoyable slower-paced three day scramble of Big Chiwaukum

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Roads and trails were in reasonable shape.  Bugs were biting but I've seen worse.

Day one: We backpacked from the White Pine trailhead to Lower Grace Lakes.  We chose the longer, but easier route up the signed and well-defined trail to the lakes from the south, rather than the shorter off-trail more northerly approach over the west ridge used by some.  Grace Lakes evidently have much less use than I’d have expected, based on the limited established camping sites we found.  Actually, we didn’t encounter anyone else in the course of the whole three days. We camped on at the north east corner of the larger lake. (8 hours at our slow pace, 4100’ of gain)

Day two: We started following on the track by the outlet stream of upper Grace Lake, then headed north and ascended steep meadows to the Big Chiwuakum’s west ridge.  We ascended the ridge, using a well-defined boot path where it steepened, then the open slopes almost to the top of Chiwaukum’s southeast ridge.  A precipitous drop into the gully of the V-notch led us to back down a couple hundred feet to find a crossing.  We threaded through the slopes paralleling below the ridgeline to the second steep-walled gully, where we saw the key ledge giving access to the summit and found a way to descend to it.  The pictures of this ledge by b00 and Gimpilator on the NWhikers website were very helpful.  The now well-delineated route corkscrews around an obstruction then ascends to the summit on class 2 scramble rock with one possibly class three move.  There is no heart-stopping exposure on the whole route.  We elected not to break camp and head to a developed campsite along the trail at 5,300’, as we had considered, but rather cooled down and relaxed at the lake. (8 hours, 2160’ of gain).

Here's picture of the key ledge:


Day three: We backpacked to trailhead, collecting some very fresh boletus mushrooms on the way (7 hours)