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Trip Report    

Black Peak/South Ridge

The RainyPass TH was still buried in snow, but areas along the road had been plowed for cars. We left the TH at 10:30 a.m. Unable to locate the trail up to the west side of Ann Lake, we used the GPS to cut switchbacks and easily found our way traversing above Ann Lake to Heather Pass. It had warmed up and the snow was very soft. The mile traverse to Lewis Lake was snow covered and steep but we were able to follow a boot path (thanks Jay!!). Several cornices above we tried to move quickly past. Confidence in your ice axe skills was critical through here as the run out was poor. Arriving at Lewis Lake we collected water at an outlet stream concerned we would not find water at Wing Lake. We discussed the option of camping low but decided to continue on to the upper Lake. We are so glad we did!! We travelled around the south side of Lewis Lake and arrived at Wing Lake at approximately 3:30 p.m. We collected water from the lake, which had just a few spots where it was melting. This is a BEAUTFUL camp spot! Our own private snow “privy” was built north of the lake—the views beat any other privy I know of! (This is a relatively high activity area, recommend you blue bagged everything). We spoke with Jay that night as his group descended from the summit back to Lewis Lake. They said they stuck mostly to the rocky ridge, travelling on to the snow when they had too.
We left camp at 5:15 a.m.—fantastic sunrise. The snow was hard so we left camp in crampons. We ascended to the lowest notch. Again, cornices were above and right of our access point so we tried to move quickly. Once on the ridge we followed a climbers’ path very close to, but west of the ridge, in scree and rock. After 3-400 feet we were forced left in a steep snow covered chute, which took us 100 feet to a lower ledge and forcing us rightward up a ramp for 100 feet where we took the left of two short gullies up to another ledge, moved right where very steep, exposed snow forced us up another short gully we set a handline in (on the descent we did not use the handline). The brought us out onto a bench in the summit ridge, west of the summit. There was so much hard snow, and although we had two pickets the recommended rightward traverse on benches seemed more hazardous and unlikely than going straight up the west ridge. 15 feet short of a rope length along the western ridge took us to the summit. I was able to build an anchor using a #2 cam, #5 nut, and a pink tricam and cordelette. This ridge was 4th to low 5th, but clean and easy to climb. The rock along it provided good natural protection for the rope (although I set a medium gold hex half way across it). Everyone was on the summit by 10:30 a.m. using a prusik. We could see rain in the distance so did not spend much time on top.
We descended our route returning to camp at approximately 1:45 p.m., packed up and headed out by about 2:40 p.m. After crossing the open bowl beneath Ann Lake and crossing through the trees we found a snow covered slide path that took us down about 700’ and a short distance above the TH sign making for a quick and easy trip out. Two weeks later tag alder will make this descent very unpleasant. At the cars at 6:15 p.m. Approximately 4200’ gain; 11 miles RT.
Due to the exposed snow travel and scrambling I would not recommend this climb for early season/new Basic students unless they have a lot of experience in both.

 

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