Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Columbia Peak/West Spur

Beautiful peak with sustained and exposed scrambling. I am giving it only 4 stars because our views were few due to the smoke. Otherwise I am sure they would have been stunning.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Paved to Barlow Pass where cars were parked.  Biked to Monte Cristo.  A large log over the SFork of the Sauk to cross, but unfortunately many logs cris-crossing the large log which made it difficult.  Had to lift the bikes across a couple cris-crossing logs and then hop rocks to the other side.    Had to get on and off our bikes several times and push during our ride to Monte Cristo, but it certainly is worth it.  Returned via new Wagon Trail built in 2015 which is 5 mi instead of 4 with more ups and downs.  

This trip was day 2 of a 2 day trip with the group climbing Silvertip on day 1.  A separate report was written for Silvertip Peak. 
It was damp and muggy with clouds coming and going all the previous day and we were all expecting a clear day for our Columbia summit day.  Unfortunately the smoke from eastern WA and Canada arrived during the night and we woke to a smokey haze.  So disappointing because we knew the views from Columbia are supposed to be stunning.
We left our campsite at Silver Lake at 6am and returned to Poodle Dog Pass (4350') where we would connect with the Twin Lakes Trail.30173666328_2531893d40_o.jpg
The Twin Lakes Trail was rolling, but in pretty good shape.  Although hazy, we had some beautiful mountain silhouettes as the sun rose.  30173663588_ef1f07b7fc_o.jpg
Jeff Smoot's beta told us we would see a distinct path forging off to the left if we didn't want to go all the way to the junction where a way trail went down to the lakes.  This would save us some elevation gain.  We found it at 5200', about 100' below that junction.   We traversed over talus and heather for a dip in the ridge (x'ed in the photo.)InkedInked30173660548_c20489ab37_o (1)_LI.jpg
From there we followed a bootpath up through a variety of terrain (boulders, rock, scree, heather) up  a short, steep  slope.  Inked30173659018_3fed3d8dca_o_LI.jpg
The trail then continues close to the ridge crest along a lovely meadow.  It then crosses a gravelly slope where we stayed high because it is easier.
Once past that buttress in the photo above, we arrive at a snow basin.  The area is still shaded so the snow hard.  We do a little exploration to see if we can stay on rock, but finally decide to put on our crampons to cross. Inked29104660747_a865658e9b_o_LI.jpg
Once above this snowfield, we encounter another snowfield above.  The photo below taken on our return shows both snowfields.  The correct way up is to to go all the way to the headwall and traverse climbers right.  We stayed too far right and bypassed the traverse under the headwall which made it harder.Inked43322902504_f8b9288a36_o_LI.jpg
Here is a photo of the traverse on our return.  It was pretty steep getting down and all the loose scree on hardpan didn't help.Inked44041497701_8cbb677026_o_LI.jpg
After traversing around the headwall, we enter a wide rock gully.   There was a couple class 4 moves to get into the gully.  A photo on the return with Twin Lakes in the haze below.44041498281_f802a1e9bb_o.jpgClimbing up the gully with loose rock.  There are 2  with the first being much more solid.29104659827_0488a1e93a_o.jpgAt the top of the gully, traverse climbers left on a ledge.  Photo taken on the return.44041500781_e2e1de876e_o.jpg
Then up a very narrow, short, loose gully and then short scramble up the face to the summit.P8130056.JPGOn the summit at about 11:45am.  Summit photo with limited views due to all the smoke.  Departed about half hour later.29104658187_0e73fbd6e5_o.jpgThe harder part, getting down.  Some photos.

30173647178_fbfb69bbe4_o.jpgWhere the rock was actually good and fun.  Photo taken on the way down by Tom Girard.P8130060 (1).JPGBack at camp at 5pm to pack up.  Departed at 5:30pm.  Rode the new Wagon Trail back which met the road .8 miles past and below Barlow Pass.  Tom was way ahead so was able to reach his car way before the rest of us.  Drove down to us just as we got to the road and took the drivers to their cars parked at Barlow Pass.  They then drove down and picked the rest up right before dark.  What a day, what a great group!