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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Del Campo Peak & Gothic Peak

Exciting trip that involved a tough backpack in on a hot muggy day, followed by thunderstorms at night, another thunderstorm before we even got started climbing, a challenging scramble of Del Campo... but we had fun!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trail is completely free of snow until the very top of Gothic Basin.  There are a couple of small snow fields to get to Foggy Lake.

    Gothic Peak has some snow left on the ridge and up to the approach of the summit block.  We used microspikes but snow can be avoided depending on the route.

    Del Campo has a snowfield as well.  You can cross the snowfield to get to the gully with traction or use the rocks and moat to get to the gully.

We left Barlow Pass around 9am and had a slow ascent to Gothic Basin because of the heat.  It was very warm and muggy.  We took breaks at waterfalls along the way up and even a short swim in a pool near the waterfall at 4,400 feet.  Once at Gothic Basin, we explored some of the lakes and then went up to Foggy Lake.  We found a campsite that was suitable, but with more exploring we could have found a better spot.

We had a group of 7 Olympia Mountaineers.  When we got to Foggy Lake, imagine our surprise when we found a group of 12 Mazamas who had the same trip planned as us.  With some coordination, we decided to let the Mazama group scramble Del Campo first while we scrambled Gothic and then we would meet back at Foggy Lake, trade beta, and then do the other peak.  Plan was to start at 6am on Saturday morning.

During the night, we had thunderstorms roll through the basin and moderate to heavy rain until after midnight.  We woke up at 5am and noticed that there were ominous clouds to our southwest and as we prepared for the scramble, we saw the rain trails heading our direction.  While the Mazama group started at 6:20, we decided to hold off by half an hour to let the rain pass.  Around 7, the skies opened up and it poured and it was very windy.  There was also a flash of lighting and rumble of thunder.  We later learned the Mazama group hunkered in some trees on the ramp to Del Campo to let the storms passed.

Finally, around 8:30, we started up to Gothic.  We ascended directly up above Foggy Lake to the ridge at the first band of mixed rocks/heather/boot trail.  We crossed snow using microspikes up to the S shaped ridge line.  Since there was a snowfield continuing to the west towards the summit, we ascended on the snow and then dropped down into a moat to find our scramble route to the summit block.  We then scrambled up the block to the summit and signed the summit register.  We couldn't stay long because rain showers were coming in from the west.  I had just enough 4G service to see that the weather was improving.  Even with the showers in the area, we had views of Glacier Peak and all the other nearby peaks.  We then descended the summit block.  Since it started to rain, we came down the scree field.  There is a faint climbers trail along the summit block going north towards Foggy Lake.  We then traversed over to the route that we took coming over and made it back to Foggy Lake just after 12.  The Mazama group had made excellent time on Del Campo even with the rain delay and they were preparing to head up Gothic.  So, we traded beta and then let them go on our way.

After a casual lunch break, we packed and started up Del Campo.  we left at 1:30pm.  By this time, the weather had improved significantly and it was getting warm, but we made our way up the ramp.  Unlike the Mazamas, a number of us did ascend the snowfield on Del Campo up to the gully though a couple of people decided to stay on the rocks.  At the gully, we started ascending the gully looking for our notch off to the left.  As we ascended, we started having problems with rock fall, and some rocks did fall on of our leaders causing a bruise on her foot.  At this point, we felt we were not where we were supposed to be and needed to discuss the next steps.  Two people decided to not continue and wait down at the moat.  Five of us who chose to continue did find a cairn to the left side of the gully, maybe a quarter of the way up and were able to find a route to ascend the summit block.  This is a long ascent of about 400 feet with tough moves.  Though it is a 3rd class scramble, there are some 4th class areas including exposure.  It was pretty obvious why this is rated a T-5.  Despite the challenges, we were able to ascend up the east side of Del Campo and we reached the summit block at 4:45pm.  We were soon joined by 4 other individuals in two separate groups making this a very crowded summit block that could probably only hold 6 or 7 people comfortably.  So, after taking our obligatory summit shots and signing the register, we slowly downclimbed.  Instead of going back to the gully, we were able to find a better route that exits just west of the gully.  We met up with the other two at the moat, glissaded down back to the climber's trail and headed back to camp.

We hiked out on Sunday.  Our assessment of our trip is that a very challenging route.  We did not need to use the rope we had, but the trip definitely requires a certain degree of proficiency in rock scrambling skills.  The views from the two summits and the entire Gothic Basin area was absolutely stunning, but it is a high use area, so consider going up on a weekday or at least on a Friday when you'll have good selections of campsites.  If you are looking at a warm weather day, be sure to start really early to beat the summer heat.