Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mt Deception & Mt Clark

Challenging and exposed, only for experienced scramblers if you use this route. Lots of loose rock when we did it, but what amazing views. Upper Royal Basin, where we camped to do both scrambles is a most stunning area.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The road to the large Upper Dungeness TH was fine although the last 12 miles was a gravel road.  Trail to Royal Lake and the Upper Basin was in fine shape.  Many opportunities to filter water along the trail so no need to carry a lot.


I sent in my request for a Royal Basin camping permit the day they started accepting requests. 

7/15/18:  We took the 6:10am Sunday Seattle to Bainbridge ferry and arrived at the Upper Dungeness TH just before 9am.  Our plan was to hike in at a leisurely pace and set up camp at the Upper Royal Basin  for 2 nights.  With 3 in the Naturalist Course, we took time to identify the many flowers along the way.42594276815_2cb4741d7d_o.jpgFour hours later we arrived at Royal Lake where 1 member took a swim.42594270285_c56a0b6c53_o.jpgFrom here we climbed to the Upper Basin (1.5 add'l miles) where we got our first really good views of Mt Deception and made camp near the Imperial Tarn.43498861821_f149676538_o.jpgImperial Tarn and Surprise Basin between the 2 peaks.  What a perfect site except for the expected mosquitoes.  43498853511_bf6a0e8f29_o.jpg7/16/18:  We left camp around 6am the next day to summit Mt Deception.  A single goat greets us and visits us during the night too.43462521152_39d08a6128_o.jpg

The standard route to the Deception-Martin saddle was easily visable from out campsite, but we have to figure out the rest of our route after that.  It was easy when traveling on the snow.  Crampons were probably not necessary, but they did add some protection as the slope got steeper.28623337177_bfc6573418_o.jpgWe got on the rotten rock maybe a few hundred feet from the saddle. (last bend below the saddle as shown in the photo above.)  It was really slow moving now.  We had to be extra careful not to knock rock on each other and taking turns moving through certain areas.43462514022_56fe951197_o.jpgFrom the Deception-Martin saddle, we dropped down to the other side and got on a large snowfield in order to circle around Gilhooley Tower to a gravel saddle.43462511082_d7c22577ac_o.jpg
43462508612_0158ce0bd2_o.jpgOnce at the gravel saddle, we traverse below Gilhooley Tower .42605279805_0d3ff0455a_o.jpgAnd then we're on the ridge on the other side of Gilhooley Tower that takes us to the summit.43462505552_d522538b3f_o.jpgLooking back at Gilhooley Tower.29639043948_eeed8f4986_o.jpgFinal push to the summit.41702030760_bd1cb130f9_o.jpgView of Upper Royal Basin from the summit.41702028820_f2244fcf5f_o.jpgGroup summit photo.  It takes us about 5.5hrs to get here.42793136154_51ec189532_o.jpgOn our way back.43462493782_efaec8858b_o.jpg

A glissade from the gravel saddle into the snowfield bowl and then back up to the saddle.42793148264_eb268e2543_o.jpg

Once at the saddle, we move a little further north before heading down the mountain.  We are trying to stay near a track we got off Peakbaggers from someone who did it 2 weeks before. 
Unfortunately it probably wasn't any easier than if we went the way we came up.  Multiple short ledges filled with loose rock which again took a lot of time.  42793143294_a36348d6c0_o.jpg By the time we reach camp around 5pm, I think we're all pretty tired, but feeling rewarded too.  A good day's work!

7/17/18:  We depart camp at 5am for Mt Clark.  The rising sun lights up Mt Deception beautifully.29640736048_41c617cac3_o.jpg

 We're headed for Surprise Basin.43464328182_f2f23fe413_o.jpg

 We couldn't see Surprise Basin yesterday, but we got glimpses of the saddle where we need to go as the start of the scramble begins there. Mt Johnson is on climber's left and Mt Clark on the right.29640731988_f60e86e3c5_o.jpg

The scramble starts up a ramp.  Unlike Mt Deception, this route is more obvious and the rock so much more sound.  It is fun scrambling.43464325772_15c969a0f2_o.jpgOnce at the top of the ramp, the route corkscrews around the mountain on a fairly wide ledge.28623335307_1c1757ebae_o.jpgIt does involve some loose scrambling, but definitely not as much as yesterday.29640728188_a1773253a0_o.jpg

Then it meets a downward, wide class 3 crack.  It's easy moving down the crack, but a little difficult getting out and the move is exposed so we put up a handline for an extra measure of safety.28625137747_876be14a2c_o.jpgThen we continue corkscrewing around to the north side of the peak until we find the gully that will take us to the large crack that leads us to the summit that just fits us all.  The summit is on climber's left and can't quite be seen in this photo.43464312472_84712a0db5_o.jpgSurprise Basin and Mt Deception from the summit.  The views are grand from here too.28625131297_10a13e4cf0_o.jpgThe ladies at the bottom of the large crack that takes you to the summit.28625129897_91d4208177_o.jpg

Then it's back down we go with some good glissades included.42794882764_fd546bc4c3_o.jpg

One last photo of the beautiful views at the Upper Royal Basin.42607176365_f58a765170_o.jpgBack at our cars at 6:30pm and are some of the last cars to pull on to the 9pm Bainbridge to Seattle ferry.  Splendid 3 days with a capable group with terrific attitudes.


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colin corbin
colin corbin says:
Jul 22, 2018 08:49 PM

Wow, wow, and wow! Great TR and a great looking climb! Thanks for the report and the pictures

Wes Neal
Wes Neal says:
Aug 05, 2019 07:03 AM

Sounds like an incredible climb and this is an amazing trip report, thank you Susan!!!