Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Ingalls Peak/South Peak

A challenging but rewarding late season adventure through Headlight Basin to Ingalls South Peak.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Seduced by the golden Larches of October and the rare rain-free, sunny forecast; our group of seven headed out from the Lake Ingalls trailhead at 07:55 equipped with our ice axes, microspikes, and helmets.  Cameras at the ready and personal beacons tracking our steps, we made our way to Ingalls Pass by 10:00 and Lake Ingalls in just over another hour.  The decision to wander up to Ingalls South Peak on a Friday was well rewarded as we only encountered about half a dozen people on the trail to the lake.  The Larches were as beautiful as expected and appeared to be nearing their peak; golden leaves with just slight hints of chartreuse. 

From the lake, we donned helmets and headed up the slabs on the west side of the lake but quickly found ourselves rerouting to the north through large boulders when the slabs topped out with no obvious path.  Once through the boulders, we stopped for lunch around 12:00 before heading up to the North-South Peak col.  Over lunch we discussed the variations in the rock of this area.  Predominately, the rock is peridotite but mixed in this is Olivine, Spinel, Serpentine, and Talc.  These four are found together on several boulders making an entire surface on one side of a boulder appear glassy while the rest of boulder consists simply of peridotite. 

Reaching the col at 13:00, we quickly discovered the route to Ingalls South Peak was fraught with thin ice on the east slope and two to three inches of snow and ice on the west slope which only worsened further down the route.  The group collaborated options and for a bit it looked like the trip would be recorded as a turn-around.  However, the group persevered and with careful route planning we made our way past the obstacle before us, donned microspikes for the snowy walk to the summit block and reached the summit of Ingalls South Peak at 14:15.   The summit block itself was snow-free, ice-free and we spent roughly half an hour at the top enjoying the views.  Fortunately for us, a steady and gusty westerly wind that had been the bane of our existence all morning was suddenly dying down and everything seemed much better now. 

From the summit, we headed down the south side of the summit block to the saddle between Ingalls South Peak and Fortune Peak.  Since it was now 15:15 we opted to skip the optional add-on of Fortune Peak and started our decent down the east slope to the upper trail.  Making our way through the “Giant Boulder” field on the north side of the east slope, we reached the upper trail at 15:50 and then Ingalls Pass at 16:15.  We were back to the cars by 17:50.  On the way out, we passed several people hiking into the basin to camp for the weekend and at the trailhead many hunters had arrived in anticipation of the opening day of deer season on October 13th.  We loaded up vehicles and headed home with a stop in Cle Elum for dinner.  This was a wonderful, fun group to hang out with on a Friday.

Stats for trip – roughly 9.4 miles on our route and 3,750 feet of elevation gain.  We used helmets, microspikes, and pulled ice axes out only briefly.  The trail was in great condition.   No slips, trips, or falls and two people in the group earned credit towards their Scrambles Course.