Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Clark Mountain & Luahna Peak

Poor snow conditions and rapidly warming temps with early-season glacier covered caused us to turn around at the foot of Clark Glacier. No peak to be had.

  • Road rough but passable
  • Trail up to the creek crossing is in generally good condition, with some fallen trees across White River trail and the initial switchback of Boulder Creek. Snow and avalanche debris above the initial switchbacks. Creek crossing was calf-high.

    Persistent snow above 4700ft. Final set of switchbacks up the pass were partially exposed, and rock/snow fall to the left of the switchbacks discouraged a direct boot-path up the snow. Steep snow at the exit of the switchbacks with no run-out required hand-line or shwacking up above the switchbacks to gain more moderate snow slopes.

    Pass entirely covered in snow with no available water. Access down from the pass via a single 50° slope--the rest of the ridge is corniced.

    Glacier almost entirely snow covered with evidence of recent snow slide cutting across the lower portion of the route.

Group of 5 started from the TH at 8am Friday with a goal of Clark, with Luahna as a bonus depending on how things went. We made casual time up to into the valley, encountering only one other human half-way up the switchbacks: a jet pilot buzzing through the valley heading north.  We reached the creek crossing around 11:45, and soon hit persistent snow soon after the creek, 4700ft, slowing us down considerably. Snow conditions were soft and mushy: it took another 3 hours to reach the bottom of the final set of summer switchbacks, which were the only piece of the trail visible since hitting snow. The switchbacks were only partially exposed, requiring some snow travel when "switching" back on the trail. The exit of the switchbacks was a steep snowfield with no runout, so we bushwhacked above the trail for a few hundred feet in order to gain a shallower snow slope. Finally gained the pass around 5pm. Leaders did a quick exploratory climb down the other side of the pass to scope out potential route options for the morning. Based on snow conditions & group fatigue, we cut-out Luahna and opted for a late, 6am start time for the morning.

Left camp Saturday on-time, down-climbed the pass with simple kick-steps, and made decent time to the foot of the glacier. Snow conditions were just as soft as the day before, which put up some warning flags for the potential return from the peak later that date. Reached the foot of Clark Glacier around 8am. The glacier is almost entirely buried, with the ice cliffs only barely visible, and a fairly large snow slide cut across the route.  While coverage of the glacier looks great, the warming forecast had us fearing extra sloppy snow conditions during the decent and the potential for more slides from the ridge. The route could definitely go, but with a much faster team than we had.PXL_20220625_144957202.jpg

Given a lost objective, we decided to break camp and race back to the cars with the consolation of dinner in Leavenworth. Descent was uneventful.