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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Chutla, Eagle & Wahpenayo Peaks

Successful trip ascending Eagle, Chutla, and Wahpenayo in nine hours car-to-car from Longmire.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Overall good route conditions.  Climber trails are generally easy to follow although we had a few wrong turns which were quickly corrected.   The traverse from Chutla around to Wahpenayo was the least pleasant as it requires traversing heather slopes and talus without a trail but the way was still fairly obvious.

    Eagle: from the saddle take the climbers' path to climber's left.  Go through some trees until arriving at the base of a steep gully with many tree roots that shows evidence of prior travel.  Do not ascend this gully (it leads to fourth class terrain); rather continue further left and down about 40' on a path along the base of the rock.  Then climb on good benches and third class terrain until above the fourth class section.  Continue on easy terrain to the summit.  About 20 minutes from the saddle.

    Chutla: return to the saddle and ascend another climbers' path up the ridge to the summit of Chutla.  No issues here; the terrain is mostly class two although a few short third-class steps are encountered.  Shortly before the last slope leading up to the summit the path dips down before ascending again; at the bottom of this dip is another path leading down a gully which is the way towards Wahpenayo later.   About 30 minutes from the saddle to the Chutla summit.

    Wahpenayo: descend a short section of the trail to the dip described above; descend on a climbers' path down the gully to heather slopes below the cliffs of Chutla.  Traverse the slopes (the trail runs out, so find the way of least resistance) and pass below a clump of trees, then descend a steep heather slope (intermittent trail) down to a large talus field.  Cross the talus field and pick up a better climbers' path which leads steeply from 5300' to the saddle between Chutla and Wahpenayo at 5600'.  From the saddle there is a good path up Wahpenayo, although we lost it at one point which required some steep bushwhacking to get back on track.  This trail is often on climber's left side of the ridge and not on the ridge proper.  Once on the upper ridge of Wahpenayo there is a false summit; follow the path down about 60' then re-ascend (some class three scrambling here) to the true summit.

    Return: follow the path back to the Chutla-Wahpenayo saddle and down almost to the talus field to about 5300'.  The climbers' path splits; take the route continuing further downhill; cross the talus field lower down and continue on a decent climbers' path which traverses nicely at consistent elevation until eventually intersecting the main trail at about 5000'.  This means you don't have to return to the Eagle-Chutla saddle on the way out.  This intersection with the main trail at 5000' is found shortly after the main trail exits the forest at a sharp left turn (for ascenders) in the trail; it's good to find it in the morning as a reference for the return.

We were a group of five (planned for six but there was one no-show).   We met in Seattle just after 5 then arrived at Longmire around 7:30.  At 7:45 we started up the Eagle saddle trail (trailhead 2760') at about 2 mph. The trail is wide and has a gentle grade and allows easy travel.  There is a stream crossing two miles in.  The trail has a lot of shade and does not exit the trees until 5000'.  We took a break at 5000' - note this is where the Wahpenayo path comes in (see Route Conditions above) and applied bug spray as the mosquitoes were starting to attack here.  Then further up to the saddle and the end of the maintained trail at about 5680'.  We left poles at the saddle and climbed Eagle (see notes above) and had a break at the summit.  Eagle has the hardest scrambling of the three peaks but is still only class three if the ledges route is found. 

Then back to the saddle to retrieve poles and ascend Chutla.  We noted the turn towards Wahpenayo on the way.  We did not stash poles anywhere but took them to the summit.  We had a longer lunch break at the Chutla summit. 

Then we traversed over to Wahpenayo which means giving up about 700' elevation before finally climbing again.  This traverse does not have a good climbers' path so be careful not to slip in the heather.  Wahpenayo has a decent climbers' path although we lost it once and had to bushwhack steep brush to get back on it.  There is a dip in the summit ridge which includes some fun class three scrambling.  On the summit we had our longest break of about 40 minutes in the sun.  Then back to cars, taking another climbers' path on the way before intersecting with the main trail.  About nine hours car-to-car but less than eight hours of actual travel time.