Trip Report    

Basic Rock Climb - Mount Cruiser/Southwest Corner

A climb of Beta Peak, next to Mount Cruiser.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Crampons and ice axes are unnecessary at this point in the season; the remaining snow in Needle Pass can be avoided by staying on the left or right side of it.


We left the trailhead to Flapjack Lakes at around 12:30 PM. By that time, both the regular and overflow parking lots had filled, requiring two of our cars to park on the side of the road and hike a short way up to the lower trailhead at the overflow lot. We made good time to Flapjack Lakes, arriving at camp at around 5 PM. Several parties on the way down reported bees nests, which we were mostly able to avoid by staying on the trail.

By the time we arrived at Flapjack Lakes, most of the sites that could accommodate three tents were taken. We ended up using the group site on the opposite side of the trail to Gladys Divide. Some of us filtered water directly out of the lower lake, and some used the stream that connected the two lakes. Nobody got sick.

There were several reports this year of snafflehounds that chewed through ropes and webbing in the area, creating significant safety hazards. We perceived the Mount Cruiser snafflehounds to be smart, winged, ROUS (Rodents of Unusual Size) that run around camp yelling, "SNAFFLE SNAFFLE SNAFFLE" and eating every piece of cotton material in sight.

rodent_of_unusual_size_1987_01.jpgWe took several preemptive measures to avoid the Snafflehound ROUS. We hung our soft climbing gear (ropes, harnesses, webbing) in addition to food on the bear wires. We also banged pots and pans together throughout the night to keep the snafflehounds away. Our neighbors probably appreciated our foresight.

All of our efforts worked. We woke up in the morning unscathed from the snafflehounds, save for one person who had nightmares about winged ROUS and banging pots and pans.

We set off for Cruiser at about 5:30 AM, after a quick stop and the toilets. We made good time up to Gladys Divide. On the ascent, we went all the way up to the divide before scrambling across the rocks to Needle Pass. This seemed to work well, keeping us on something that resembled a use trail for a lot of it. We reached the base of Needle Pass at 7:15 AM. After some discussion, we decided to stay right of the snow that remained. It was one of the more treacherous gullies I have ever been in. Nothing felt solid and it went on for quite a while. We were happy to reach the more solid rock of Beta Peak. Beta in and of itself is a pretty fun scramble, wildly exposed, with solid rock and a lot of third class moves. When we reached the summit of Beta, clouds were rolling in quickly from the West, making it appear that a white out was heading right toward us. The prospect of descending another nasty gully to get to Cruiser, and then reascending another, and then retracing all of our steps back to where we were in white out wetness was not one we all enjoyed, so we called Beta our summit and turned around at that time.

sjSib3yHTZGntQ4fyGumkw.jpgumuc5V6nT9SmiXJfC7PALQ.jpgThere are several rappel stations on Beta. I am a fan of letting the most risk-averse person decide where they want to rappel versus down climb, and in this case, since we had time, we rappelled pretty much all of Beta and Needle Pass. We had two 70 meter ropes with us, and three 35 meter rappels got us to safety. There was falling rock throughout our rappels, even above us, where nobody else was. Existing webbing at each station exhibited various states of wear and tear. We cut off webbing damaged webbing and brought it down with us, in two instances replacing it with shiny new webbing.

We descended the gully below Needle Pass slowly, this time staying more to skier's left. The rock on the left versus right was not as secure, but some of our party members found that the fastest and safest option for them was to plunge step down it as if on snow. Others took their time and were more careful with every foot placement. We arrived back at camp at 1 PM, took a leisurely break, and headed back down to our cars, arriving at around 5:45 PM. We all felt like we made the right call not to climb Cruiser, as it would have put us back at our cars at around 10 or 11 PM.

I think that in order to make Cruiser enjoyable, a team would want to go earlier season when Needle Pass still has snow, and be proficient at all types of rock scrambling, including loose rock gullies and exposed third and fourth class terrain. I had a great time exploring the area with friends, but it is not a peak that I will come back to anytime soon.