Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Burnt Park, Palisades, Marcus Traverse

A gorgeous ‘end of the season’ tour along alpine ridges and meadows connecting 4 distinct peaks: Burnt Park (Pt 6327), Palisades, Marcus, and Pt 6218 (the ridge NW of Marcus). This strenuous exploratory traverse (~5300’ gain, ~14 miles, 5 miles off trail) is a keeper, with unexpected sun/views and impending weather that held off until we arrived back at the cars.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The peaks and ridges (especially northern aspects) had remnants of this season’s first significant snowfall that slightly slowed our pace (photo taken from summit of Point 6327 looking SE, The Palisades and Marcus in the distance):


    Although footwear traction devices were not needed, our ice axes were useful for some low dagger artificial holds in steep/slippery terrain when descending from Pt 6218.

Our original route plan worked well (summarized in this October 2016 photo taken just below the summit of Marcus Peak):



The key portion of our route (and the part with no prior beta) was the NW ridge of The Palisades that afforded our ascent from Burnt Park.  After some steep heather travel on the lower parts of this ridge it quickly narrowed into a bowl bordered by piles of broken columnar basalt on each side:


There were actually multiple parallel bowls, each separated from one another by minor ridges of broken columnar basalt (in some places quite intimidating and visually suggestive of a certain instability ;):


As it turned out it was strait forward using a number of zig-zag traverses that avoided the steepest (and most intimidating) parts as we made our way up the ridge (mostly on the south side of the primary crest):


An easy ascent of a final bit of ridge gave us interesting views into the vale to the NE:


followed by a stunning break at the summit:


After descending through a bit of krummholz, we were soon on Marcus:


The clouds moved in during our final ridge run to Point 6218, and after descending to the WNW (with a substantial amount of bushwacking) we reached the Huckleberry Creek Trail in fading daylight at ~6:30pm (elevation 4100’).  The easy trail hike out was free of precipitation, and with a bit of help from headlamps saw us back to the cars at ~8pm.

The entire day was just under 13 hours, including a number of substantial breaks (~3 hours to Pt 6327 in Burnt Park, ~2 hours to The Palisades, 1.5 hours to Marcus, ~3 hours to the Huckleberry Creek Trail, ~1.5 hours for the hike out).  A surprisingly good day in the mountains on a route worth doing again.  More photos can be seen here.