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Trip Report    

Black Peak/South Ridge

We started from the trailhead around noon. Mosquitoes were quite bad from there to Heather pass but were not a problem for the rest of the trip. There is a clear boot path for most of the sections not in the boulder field. From Heather pass, we stayed high and traversed across the boulder field and then snow to Lewis lake. Use of an ice axe is advised since the snow fields are fairly steep. Since the snow fields were still in good shape we stayed to the left side of Lewis lake and then traversed over to the boot path just to the right of the boulder field/moraine as we climbed to Wing lake. Navigation is very straight forward. Wing lake was still mostly frozen, but camp sites were free of snow. We reached camp at 4 pm and had plenty of time to admire a very handsome mountain goat (that we dubbed "Anton") that joined us in camp. Although he was a bit touchy, and had a hard time respecting personal space (especially during 'party separations'), Anton proved to be a valued addition to our group. We hung all our gear, and were relieved that nothing had been eaten when we returned to camp. After a foggy start, the clouds burned off around 8 am the next day, allowing us to scramble up the snow to the saddle at the base of the south face of Black peak. The top of the snow became quite steep and definitely required ice axe and crampons. The description in Nelson's climb guide proved quite helpful as we followed the boot path up the arete, then shifted climber's left to the next gully over, then to the next gully over, then left to the third and final gully. When we reached the summit block, we traversed north before topping out. If you find the right crevice, it only requires a single 15' section of easy 4th class rock before reaching an airy ridge walk 10' across the narrow spine of the ridge to the true summit. We did not need a rope although the loose rock and a few sections of exposure definitely got our attention. Breathtaking views! We had just a tinge of smoke from the Twisp complex fires burning in the Methow valley. We were on the summit by 11 AM, back in camp by 1 pm after a leisurely lunch on the summit, and returned to the trailhead by 4 pm after breaking down camp. On our return from Lewis lake to Heather pass, we followed the lower trail, which is primarily on dirt directly below and adjacent to the boulder field. While this requires losing a hundred feet or so of extra elevation, it was probably worth it to avoid some boulder hopping and the steep snow traverse. A stunningly beautiful, relatively easy two-day climb.