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Trip Report    

Esmeralda Peaks

  • Mon, Jul 21, 2014
  • Esmeralda Peaks
  • Scrambling

This trip was put together as a kind of "SiG" for a group of our current year students, a couple of whom still needed a Rock credit for graduation. Unfortunately, due to illness (sudden bout of the flu) and a lingering injury (a mild knee strain that needed a couple of more days of recuperation), two of the party members cancelled at the last moment, after I had departed to car camp over at Beverly CG on the Teanaway River Rd the night before the scramble. For that reason, only three of the students showed up on Saturday morning. However, we got in a good scramble, with plenty of rock scrambling along the east spur of the slightly more NE-erly of the two westerly peaks (not the spur that leads down to the "high traverse," but the spur east or clockwise-from-above of that, that ultimately leads down to form the north wall of the DeRoux canyon). And, regardless of which of the alternatives one takes to this peak, there tends to be some steep rock-fall (of varying size and stability) to cover. So, although this is a relatively moderate summit, in terms of mileage (~8 mi), elevation gain (~3,000 - 3,100 feet), and the ability to route around any more exposed rock on and near the summit, I felt it very fair to award Rock credit to my three intrepid students. Total trip time was 6.5 hours, plus an hour or so of summit lounging and longer breaks. Weather varied from sunny and warm to overcast, breezy, and cool. No significant rain, although we caught a modicum of mist on the hike out along DeRoux Creek and when first arriving back at camp. No sign of the fires further to the north, other than the annoying burn ban at the CG (if the hardened and virtually fool-proof grated fire-pits at the Beverly CG don't constitute "fire rings" for purposes of the burn ban exception, then it's high time the FS improved them to that standard). There was one very minor injury: one of the students banged her kneecap on a sharp edge of rock during our descent through an otherwise stable, large-rock talus field: she certainly had to manage a moment of intense pain, but there was no bleeding, no need to administer first aid or bandages, and she was able to continue the descent without further difficulty, complaint, or delay. The next morning (we were car-camping at Beverly), she had minor swelling, soreness, and stiffness, but she did not feel the injury was significant or required treatment. Given that she is an experienced emergency trauma nurse, I deferred to her judgment! I have reported the minor incident in much the same terms as above. No significant snow; no use of ice axes. Helmets a good idea on the steeper rock-fall slopes, even if the sportier summit rock is avoided.
There are several routes to the western summits, including (to judge from the old leaders' guide) a route along the previously-mentioned east ridge, a route that continues across DeRoux creek (on the trail that continues up past Gallagher Head toward Hawkins and over to a spur road of the Cle Elum River road system) and the route we used, which heads directly off trail and up toward the western summits shortly after the creek crossing. I've led both of the latter and prefer the more direct route: although it involves more steep off-trail travel, it seems to involve less route-finding and less time spent on less stable rock-fall. Participants leery of extensive rock-fall will probably have a less than satisfactory experience no matter which route is chosen; but those willing to embrace and learn from the experience will gain either way. Fortunately, my party members were of the heartier kind!

  • Red Marker
    47.417423, -120.936066
    47.4174235 -120.9360664
  • Red Marker
    47.438082, -120.949001
    47.438082241 -120.949001312

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