Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Big Craggy & West Craggy Peaks

Summited Big & West Craggy on Sunday June 19th, 2016 in 12 hours car to car. Fun trip with lots of cross-country travel on a variety of (and fantastic) Pasayten terrain features and only minor route finding challenges. Lovely views!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Great trail (although with blow down) to the point where the party headed up the broad and open ridge to Big Craggy.  Potential for route finding complications along the ridge between Big & West Craggy.  Careful route finding up the West Craggy ridge.  Lots of scree skiing on the way down from West Craggy to the creek, simple cross country work keeping the creek on our right to the trail, and straight forward return to the TH.

With the forecast favoring Sunday, we drove in Saturday afternoon (with steady drizzle all along the way), stopped for a late lunch at Mondos in Marblemount, and set up camp at Honeymoon Campground about 3.5 miles shy of the Craggies TH.  We left Seattle at 2pm, allowing two hours to Marblemount, an hour for lunch/dinner, two hours to Winthrop, and an hour to Honeymoon CG, with a plan of arriving at the CG at 8pm and asleep by 9pm.  The drive from Winthrop to the CG was on surprisingly well maintained forest road and easily navigable.

On Sunday morning we woke at 4am, departed camp at 5am, drove to the TH (well signed with room for four or five cars to pull off on the side of the road), and departed TH at 5:30am. Great trail to the broad ridge leading up to Big Craggy with a fair amount of blowdown and a stream crossing on smallish blowdown logs.  Found no boot path leaving main trail to the ridge, so departed trail in a wide-open slanting meadow on the west side of the ridge and worked our way up to the broad ridge top.  Made our way up the ridge easily in open forest occasionally running across faint game trails to scree fields. 

Friday & Saturday brought trace amounts of snow to the area, but footing was surprisingly firm and consistent up the scree to Big Craggy.  The few moderately sized snow patches remaining on the ascent route were stiff in the morning, but easily skirted on scree so we didn't use crampons.  The day had started out sunny and clear but low clouds had covered Big Craggy by the time we reached the scree, but straight-forward ridge scramble could have been accomplished in near zero visibility.  Arrived BC summit at 9:30am and departed at 10:00am. 

The descent down Big Craggy ridge to the notch between BC & WC was straight forward. The traverse along the ridge from notch to the base of the WC ridge provided opportunities for route finding complications.  We thought we had stayed below the ridge line long enough but climbed up too soon and found ourselves at the top of a unpassable section so descended and continued traversing along the ridge and then back up again to the base of the WC ridge. 

Thankfully clouds had raised during the traverse allowing for increased visibility while climbing West Craggy ridge.  Careful route finding up the narrow ridge staying low and climbing grey scree gully to a notch and then further up to another gully ascent to the skyline WC ridge and then several more hundred yards walking along the (now) broad ridge to the true summit.  Arrived WC summit at 12:30pm and left at 1pm.  Great views in all directions with high clouds reducing glare from what would otherwise have been a blazing sun.

Retraced our steps to the point where the WC ridge departs the interstitial ridge between WC & BC and then headed down scree slopes to a frozen tarn (head waters of the creek).  Plunge stepped snow slopes down to an unfrozen tarn where we pumped water where we found the beginnings of the creek and then scrambled forested slopes (moderately brushed & with blow down) keeping the creek to our right until we intersected the trail, then made quick work of the trail back to the TH.  Returned to TH at 5:30pm with the sky cleared to crystal blue on our descent.  Lots of mosquitos within a half hour of the TH so once at the cars we made ready to pile in with a minimum amount of time with car doors open!

Purchased snacks and gasoline in Winthrop, called Mondos from New Halem and ordered to-go dinners, stopped and paid for food in Marblemount and noshed on the way back to Rockport. 

Back to the 65th P&R by 9:30pm.