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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mount Pilchuck/East Ridge

Great trip via Pilchuck East Ridge and Bathtub Lakes. Start from Pinnacle Lake TH and car drop at Pilchuck TH.

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • Conditions - mixed snow and rock.  High ridges all rock and partial snow.  Bathtub Lakes Basin fully snow covered with melt-water on top good for water filtering.  Iodine Gulch partially melted out with lots of vege belays.

    Watch out for road conditions - see below in trip report.

Road = Pilchuck AND Pinnacle TH roads really really bumpy.  Recommend high clearance for sure on Pinnacle as road is even worse but only in places.  It's also a steeper and narrower road getting to Pinnacle.

Trail = Access to Pinnacle Lake was easy.  Snow covered partially at lake, but once at lake - little tricky navigating around the lake on south side - stuck to water-line versus travelling higher on steeper alder-covered slope.  Route around north looked "easier" but longer?  Once at Iodine Gulch - look for dangerous, but passable snow bridges and criss-crossing creek to upper basin.  Once in basin - travelled across easy snow/rock to upper pass leading into Bathtub Lakes basin.  Easy travel from there all on snow.

Scramble = Scramble started officially once we started climbing up Iodine Gulch (tricky vege belays and loose snow/rock).  Also some steeper snow towards upper Iodine Gulch.  Once in Bathtub Lakes basin - easy walking (understand there's a way-trail in summer?).  We encountered all snow.  Once past the final lake - we filtered water and swung high up on steeper slopes to gain ridge.  Riding the ridge was doable - lots of twists to navigating around gendarmes, but passable.  Once Pilchuck was in view - a more definitive game-trail could be found.  Towards last push to ridge summit (many high points), there was some tricky down climbing, and sure-footing to gain the ridge safely and exit it towards a high pass directly below the steep gulley to Pilchuck summit.  Due to steeper snow and later-in-day timing. we decided to scramble high along north face of Pilchuck (snow covered moderate slopes).  Reaching for a small pond at 4972ft.  Swung high again up steep ridge and then regained Pilchuck trail again safely.  We did NOT summit Pilchuck, but were within 15-min of the top.

Down route = easy trail with LOTS of foot tracks, but also LOTS of snow holes.  No issues getting back to cars in daylight, but driving back to Pinnacle Lake TH at dusk/dark wasn't too much fun.  However, drive a second time was easier.  Brought headlamps but never needed them.