Trip Report    

Black Peak/Northeast Ridge

A pretty long climb in a really long day.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Maple Loop trail and the trail to Heather Pass are in great shape. The talus field is tolerable. The scree on the approach and descent are pretty terrible (the descent is somehow worse than volcanic choss). The bugs are relentless.

  • 0100 Leave Seattle
  • 0400 Leave TH
  • 0700 Reach Wing Lake
  • 1000 Start climbing NE Ridge
  • 1400 Get passed by free soloist
  • 1600 True summit
  • 1900 Wing Lake again
  • 2030 Heather Pass
  • 2215 Back at cars
  • 0230 Back in bed
This weekend was originally earmarked for Mt Shuksan Fisher Chimneys, but due to sketchy Saturday weather and an incoming interview on Monday a bunch of people dropped and we opted to do the NE Ridge of Black in a day, which we thought would be ~12 hours C2C. It was me, Julia, and Karina Vanderbilt on the climb now. Kari wanted to go camping and swimming so we would be meeting her at Wing Lake at 7am. 
For this climb we took only approach shoes with microspikes and an ice axe for the snow portion.
We started from the TH dazed and tired from almost no sleep and quickly covered the ground to Heather Pass. From there we hopped the boulder field to wet muddy trail at Lewis Lake. We met Kari there instead, who opted to stay at Lewis Lake due to coming in late the day before.
We trudged our way to Wing Lake shortly after and encountered several groups about to go up the South Ridge, and heard of one more already on the NE Ridge. The lake itself is as clear as a mirror and we stopped to refill water, put on our harnesses, and take pictures.
Clearest reflection
We slowly hauled our way up the loose terrible scree field and some snow patches, along with some scrambling over wet rock, to gain the NE Ridge notch. The loose stuff was thin and terrible, with one step forward two steps back. This is probably much better earlier in the season when it is all snow covered.
Some of the worst rock I have walked up to date
We decided to simulclimb as a group of 3 with a 60m rope. Kari would be leading the first section (she actually led most of the route as I was still kind of tired from Kautz the last weekend). The middle (Julia) would belay out the leader, then the back (me) would belay out the middle. This worked for a bit while the terrain was easy, but because we placed more protection than needed and there were many sections we belayed, we basically pitched out half the route, which slowed us down considerably. 
The start
First gendarme
The rock quality itself wasn't too bad along the ridge. There were some rocks here and there that were loose but they were all manageable. The worst part was climbing up a gendarme and worrying whether your hold will take your weight, but that situation only happened once or twice.
Looking down on Wing Lake
Local wildlife
There were a dozen or so gendarmes along the route. For most of them we went left until about halfway, where I lead a really sketchy exposed pitch along the side of a gendarme. There we met a free soloist who had done it a few years before. His strategy was just to go right up them, and so afterwards we went up and over instead of around. 
High up on the ridge
Black Peak has a glacier on the National Park side
After a few more hours (!) of move along the ridge, we took the scramble route up the summit block. By now it was 4pm and we were getting tired.
All smiles
We quickly set a rappel station and rapped the summit block. In reality we probably could have found a way to downclimb it. 
The loose descent
Other flowers
Another hour and a half of descending loose scree brought us to the end of the south ridge itself and to the bowl leading to Wing Lake. This bowl was steep, loose, and the layer of dirt quite thin on top. It took quite a bit of careful downclimbing to get to a place where we can walk on two feet. This part of the descent was probably the worst and I would not do it again unless it was completely snow covered. 
We made it to Wing Lake at 7, and Kari pushed on ahead to strike her camp. Julia and I passed her a bit later so we can cross the talus field before sunset. Turns out, there is a dirt trail that bypasses half the talus field. But snow would have been better. 
Last light of day
We made it to the cars just after 10pm after an 18 hour day. With no time to eat afterwards, we booked it back to Seattle and were in bed by 230 for a 26 hour day in total.
All in all, it was a pretty brutal day. I am definitely not doing that again unless there is snow covering the scree.
Thanks Kari for leading the route.
PC: Julia Syi, Karina Vanderbilt