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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Sahale Peak/Quien Sabe Glacier

A wet morning turned into a cloudy climb, and clearing views by afternoon. Steady progress took us car to car in 12.5 hours.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • We're having a cloudy and wet July.  Despite rain the night before, the creek crossings into Boston Basin were done on rocks and logs.  We had to look around for good crossings once we reached the basin, but no problems.  We stepped onto the Quien Sabe snow at 6,800' and stepped off the Sahale Glacier snow right at Glacier Camp on the Arm, 7,600'.  From the col between Sahale and Boston, we were on rock for about 20m, then on snow for about 80-100m, then on the rocky summit block.  Our 30m rappel from the summit took us to a class-4 ledge about 15' above the snow that we scrambled down easily.   We went down to a rock field, and followed that to a place where we could traverse the Sahale to the right toward Glacier Camp. 

We had two teams of four on a weekday.  The weather forecast varied but basically had a medium chance of rain in the morning, then gradual clearing and thunderstorms by evening. We met at 4:00 a.m. in a very light drizzle, shuttled several cars up to Cascade Pass, and started up the trail at 4:38.   Most of us did not wear raingear at that time.  The tight trail, drippy trees, and continuing drizzle soaked my shirt and upper legs.  The views were non-existent, even as the sun rose.  Can you believe, not being able to see Johannesburg Mountain?

At 07:00, we reached Low Camp and treeline.  The air in the basin was cooler, so we donned rain pants and jackets, over wet or damp clothing. We paused only briefly, so that motion could keep us warm.  Thankfully, the drizzle ended, and we started to dry out inside our own little "raingear tents."   The visibility went up toward high camp and about the middle of the Quien Sabe glacier, but not any further. We continued northeasterly, intending to climb the left side of the Quien Sabe and then traverse rightward under the Shark Fin.  We stepped onto the snow toward the left side, and we could see some snow ramps among the icy hump in the middle of the glacier that would give us a more direct route to the col.  Pete Erickson took the lead on the first rope team and headed up one ramp after another, keeping an eye on a compass to be sure he didn't head too far to the right. (we could not see the col).  At 7,800', we intersected tracks made by two people who were climbing ahead of us, the only other people in the Boston Basin that day, it seemed.  Those tracks and older ones headed toward the col, so we followed and reached it at 10:37, about 6 hours after leaving the TH, with only short breaks.

The views to the west were still socked in the fog and clouds.  To the east, some valleys started to appear beyond the col.   We removed crampons, but should have left them on.  The ridge to the summit block had a short section of rock, and then a much longer and exposed section of snow that we couldn't see from the col.  We had four pickets and used them in that section of snow toward the summit block.  

The summit block was a nice short scramble, and the rock was actually dry.  I placed a handline to prusik, protected by four small cams. A couple of the moves were too risky to do solo.  It was efficient, and we were all on the summit at about 12:15.   Pete Erickson began setting up the rappel right away.  We seemed to be above an inversion, where it was warmer, and the clouds were clearing to the east and south, giving us some of the good views that Sahale is known for.  Unfortunately, Boston Basin remained cloud-covered and we could not see Forbidden or El Dorado.  

By 1:30, everyone had rappelled off the summit.  They had lunch while waiting to rappel from the top, or after having rappelled at the bottom.  The first section of snow on the Sahale was rather steep.  A couple folks preferred to downclimb versus plunge stepping without crampons. We chose to go onto a rocky slope and take the rocks to a lower section of snow.  Then we traversed the snow over to Glacier Camp.  As we hiked down Sahale Arm, the clouds cleared even more, finally offering us a view up into Boston Basin.  We could finally see the route we had climbed in the clouds, and the Torment-Forbidden range.  By this time, we had dried out. It's 5.7 miles from Glacier Camp to the Cascade Pass TH on good trail.  But our feet were feeling the mileage. We reached the trailhead and drove back to Boston Basin TH by 5:40 pm -- 13 hours after starting up the trail. I think that's pretty darn good. 

4:00 Meet at TH.
4:38-7:00, Hike TH to Low Camp, 2.3 hours
7:00-10:37, Low Camp to Col along with some water collection and roping up  - 3.6 hours
10:37-12:15, Col to Summit (with picketing and handlining) 1.5 hours
12:15-1:30, Rappelling 1.25 hours
1:30-2:30, Sahale Glacier to Glacier Camp, 1.0 hours
2:30-17:40, Glacier Camp to Boston Basin TH, via staged cars at Cascade Pass, ~3.25 hours
4:00-17:40, Trip Total  ~13 hours

GPS track map --