Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Van Trump Park Nunatak

An immersive and strenuous loop trip with gorgeous weather, from the dense forests near Longmire, past several jaw dropping waterfalls, then through alpine meadows to the summit of a glacier carved nunatak.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Recent warm weather has made the well consolidated snow above ~7500’ trend towards the icy side (good step kicking with soft layer on the surface, but every now and then an icier section under the thin soft layer).  With these conditions (as well as having left our crampons at home), we opted to end our trip at the 8300’ nunatak which is 1/4 mile west of the cleaver crest that is west of the Wilson glacier.  While plunge stepping on descent was fine (even excellent from a ‘plunge step practice’ perspective), any later in the day and it would have been ‘interesting’.  The slopes above ~8300’ are much steeper (and likely icier), so in general this elevation is a good end point.  As it turns out, when the gulley leading to the bump on the cleaver at ~8000’ (last year’s destination) has little snow (hence lots of rockfall, you can see this year’s condition here), this nunatak is a great alternate destination.  In other words, when low snow, do this one, when lots of snow, do the 8000’ bump.  This year’s nunatak has a problematic crossing (you can see it here) such that the 8000’ bump is a better default destination.

A gorgeous (and warm) day with lots of oohs and ahhs after passing the first waterfall, then rounding the bend for the first glimpse of Comet Falls.  Flowers are out, and with continuous snow starting at ~6000’, we made good time on the trail.  Total time was ~11 hours, with 7 hours for ascent, an hour on the summit, and 3 hours for descent.  Photos from this (and other) trips can be seen here.