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Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Dome Peak/Dome Glacier

Dome Peak and almost...Sinister over a 3 1/4 days.

  • Road rough but passable
  • APPROACH: Downey Creek Trail to Bachelor Creek was in general in good conditions with some wet sections requiring extra caution especially on the very slippery wood foot bridges. Bachelor Creek trail was in good shape as well until around 3600 ft where the vegetation started to get thicker and thicker, very wet, hard to see the trail at times -- good times. When we made it at  the 4000 ft log crossing, we did NOT cross it, instead headed North through the slide alder making a rising traverse and following the path of least resistance for awhile until we lost it and got sucked into some BW3  which added some time and required patience to get out of it -- more good times. On our way out we did a better job sticking with the path of less resistance and not dealing with BW3. Also, found the flagging people mentioned in some other trip reports. We did cross the creek on a great log around 4460, where there is an old fire pit as well and the trail resumes on the other side. The trail all the way to Cub Lake was easy to find  and to stick with. The climbers trail from Cub Lake to Itswood Ridge  was easy to follow and about half way up there is a split: on our way up, we followed its left branch and ended up scrambling some wet / mossy slabs before we popped on the ridge (a bit tricky with heavy packs); on our way down, we followed the climbers right branch and it was straight forward without any  scrambling involved.

    CLIMB: Approaching Dome Glacier from Itswood Ridge was straight forward. The glacier itself was mellow and we felt comfortable crossing it without being roped up. The route to Sinister is just about out, Chikamin glacier being very broken. Had to do a much longer protected downclimb and side traverse around the bergschrund and over another lower crevasse just to get started from the Dome col. We had to backtrack from one path that was a dead end, then the final crevasse leading to Sinister had one small snowbridge left we could cross .  The route will not be in for much longer.  It was one of the most crevassed  travel experiences requiring the most amount of protection to date.

    The West  Ridge / standard route up Sinister was harder than class 3 (especially in mountaineering boots) and confusing in places. 

    The climb up Dome was straight forward, with continuous snow pack all way to the summit block.

As a party of 4 we hiked the Downey Creek Trail to Bachelor Creek (6.5 miles) on Friday evening  and camped there  for the night (started at 5 pm and made it at camp around 8 pm). On Saturday AM we packed camp  and continued our approach (starting 7:30 am) to Itswood Ridge  via Cub Lake. We made it on the ridge in less than 8 hours , after taking two breaks at 4460 ft log crossing and Cub Lake. Did setup camp on the ridge  where we spent two nights. Fantastic camping spot! On Sunday we started our climb at 3:30 am, made it on the Dome glacier in almost two hours (without roping up) and at the col in about 3 1/2 hours. Roped up and started our long technical challenging glacier travel (requiring protection for the only existent passable snowbridges) which brought us to the base of the Sinister West Ridge climb (11 am) only one hour before our turn around time . We dropped the glacier gear and rope (big mistake I didn't stick with the plan I initially had in my mind and decided last minute to drop the rope). We scrambled in what looked to be the dirt gulley but some moves  (in mountaineering boots) felt to be harder than class 3  and just topped on the ridge  when the moves got even more exposed and the overall comfort level climbing unprotected diminished significantly until we had to call it good and tun around (we already passed the turn around time by then). Because we were climbing in two pairs of two (to minimize the rock fall), when I made the turn around call, the other  two climbers were about 100 ft higher on the ridge and concluded they couldn't downclimb back to where I was with the fourth climber.  We agreed two of us would downclimb the same gulley we came up while the other two will take the next parallel gulley and meet down. Well, great thinking but it turned out that the other two got cliffed out...and without a rope (again, my mistake) and without an easy way to give them a rope. After exploring limited possibilities  to get them off from where they were (next to a rappell station), concluded that bringing the rope and trad gear stashed at the col and then figure out where to climb in order to be able to pass the rope to them it was the only solution we had in our hands. I ended up  leading up about 30 feet to the left of where they were, tossed the rope over to them then I was able to get over to them in the gulley at that anchor and we all rapped down. Phew, finally reunited (but exhausted) around 3:00 pm. Had a late lunch, short debrief, gathered our resources and leftover energies and started our technical glacier travel back to Dome col where we made it at 7:15 pm. Dropped the pickets and continued  towards Dome, making it on the summit block at 8:30 pm just in time for the beautiful sunset. We were already mentally prepared for a downclimb back to the camp in the dark. Two headlamps decided to stop cooperating and we ended up having two climbers using their phones flashlights instead of headlamps. With extra caution we made it work and all the participants made it safely back to the camp at midnight after a 21 hour hard, complex day. All of us were exhausted but happy with what we accomplished, despite not getting the actual summit of Sinister. The hike out (almost 10 hours but with two long breaks and mandatory soaking feet in the creek) on Monday was uneventful.

35 miles and 10,000 feet gain for the whole trip: hard, complex but so fulfilling outing this was and so many lessons learned by all of us.