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Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - Sinister Peak/ West Ridge

4 day climb of Sinister Peak with approach from Stehekin.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • PCT trail to Swamp Creek camp was in fine shape for this time of the year with some hard snow patches within the last 2 miles before the camp.

    Swamp creek camp is snow free .

    On and off snow for the next 1.5 miles beyond camp until we had to cross the South Fork Agnes Creek before its junction with Spruce Creek. The log is solid but just wide enough to walk slowly while maintaining balance above the raging creek  to make it safely the other side. There was no room for mistakes. One can also consider the scooting approach but it might be challenging to deal with some small branches located on the other end of the log.

    The scramble up towards the ridge West of Asa Peak was snow free until we made it around 5700 ft and started the NW ascending traverse towards 6800 ft col where we setup the high camp. We used ice axes for this traverse.

    Snow travel from high camp to the col south of Gunsight which we leveraged to drop on the Chikamin glacier was straight forward  in early morning hard snow pack however on our way back in the afternoon it was a mash potato fest.

    Glacier travel was uneventful however we noticed and had to navigate  more opened crevasses and bergschrunds than expected for this time of the year and the one below Sinister - Dome col is already opened all way towards Dome, currently it's crossable on its left end and it looks like it will be out in a few weeks . Doing a steep traverse about this bergschrund was a bit nerve wrecking on our way down in softer than desired snow.

    The col was mostly free. The gulley located around the corned from the col is what we leveraged to gain the West ridge and it was snow free except its start.

    North face which was our initial plan for the summit push looked committing and given the snow pack and only 4 pickets between all f us we decided to skip it and go for the ridge instead.

    The ridge itself was snow free and we were able to stay on rock mostly all way up to the summit.

    Coming down we leveraged to downclimb / rappel a gulley located where you get back on the west ridge from the summit. 2X30 m ropes rap brought us just where the snow started. Not sure what the conditions are at the base of these loose gulley later in the season (I suspect a moat might open up).

We were a party of 4 for this climb.

Itinerary / stats:

Day 1: drove to Fields Point landing , got on Lady Express, made it in Stehekin at 11:00, got on the bus we had reservations for, quick stop at the bakery and drop off at High Bridge around 12:30. We started our hike in by 1 PM and made it at Swamp creek camp before 5 PM. Had the whole camp to ourselves.

Day 2: Left camp by 6:30, made it to the log crossing in about 40 minutes, and made it to the high camp (6800 ft col west of Asa peak)  in about 7 hours. Bushwalking was not too bad , we were able to avoid the slide alder patches and crossed the drainages high (first one at 5600 ft and the second one around 5800 ft). After setting up camp, some of us decided to go and explore the ridge route and break some trail to make it easier for the summit day. Early dinner we had and went to bed early for a 3:30 AM start from the camp.

Day 3: Started at 3:30 AM, made it to the col by 5 AM, roped up and started our glacier travel in Chikamin glacier by 5:30. Made it to the Sinister - Dome col by 7:30 and on the summit right before 9 AM after 5.5 hours.  Getting back-up to the col and to the camp in the heat of the day was painful . We made it back to our tents by 3 PM and at 4 PM we started our descent back to Swamp creek camp. Made it back by 8:30 PM and this time we were not alone anymore -- there were 7 other climbers / 2 parties who climbed DarkSat-Sun.

Day 4: Packed up camp, started the hike out by 7:30 AM and made it out at high Bridge around 11:00 am where we had to wait for the 12:15 PM bus we booked in advance. Another short stop at the bakery and then were were off on Lady of the lake  for our journey back to Fields Point landing.