Trip Report    

Luahna Peak/Pilz Glacier

This is a tough trip! I can see why it rarely gets scheduled as a basic climb... only a really strong party would want to do it in two days; strongly suggest 3 and enjoying the Napeequa Valley.

  • Thu, Jul 4, 2019 — Sat, Jul 6, 2019
  • Luahna Peak/Pilz Glacier
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Several river/stream crossings!  Suggest water shoes with good tread, since the rocks are slippery and we found no logs available. It's hard to tell from any telemetry what the local conditions of the Chiwawa and Napeequa are, so either go early (before peak runoff) or later.  We determined local runoff wasn't correlated well with say Tumwater canyon.

    We also encountered The Swamp; we were completely unsuccessful in staying dry through that one, but in compensation, we did find booty which had been swallowed from some prior party...

First order of business is to cross the Chiwawa river which unlike Tumwater canyon, was more impressive than we would have guessed, given the low snow year.  There was a decent crossing place 100 yards north of the TH though.  Little Giant trail is in good shape up as far as the pass; descending on the other side was more sketchy, and disappears completely in places, once you reach the Napeequa Valley floor.

The Napeequa River was pretty intimidating at the Lewis Falls crossing point - fast, upper thighs deep, and really cold.  We decided to wait for lower water in the morning, and camped at a decent site right before the falls.  In fact, I'd recommend this for all trips up the mountain, unless you're determined to climb Clark Mtn on the same trip (so Butterfly Butte would be preferable). Camping down at the valley floor makes for a more relaxed trip out.

Times: leave TH @1030, arrived at Lewis Falls campsite 1900.

We got a leisurely start around 0630, and the crossing went uneventfully with the river a few inches lower. Dropped the camp gear at this point, since we didn't want to do another river crossing late in the day. Roped up at the toe of the Pilz Glacier around 10:30. Glacier is benign, few substantial crevasses which were easily avoided. Straightforward ascent to the notch around 7900+. From that point the class 2-3 route to the summit is not obvious.  Descending to 7600 on the other side, we noted a ledge system to the next prominent buttress that looked promising and offered a shortcut, but decided to drop to 7200, and traversed approximately 0.75mile to the buttress on the west side of Luahna. From this ridge, we climbed close to the summit ridge over talus and snow, and did a rising traverse over loose ledges north until a quartz vein was visible. this provides a class-3 gully to the summit.

Times: departed far side camp around 0715. glacier @ 1030, notch @ 1215, summit @ 1520, camp at 2115.

Another leisurely camp breakfast on day 3 meant we had an easy day out.

Times: departed camp @0915, pass @ 1400, trailhead @ 1800.

Other stats: 30 miles r/t, 13000 elevation gain.

Suggest carefully screening participants since this is a very demanding trip. Going early in may offers lower river crossings, and more snow as opposed to scree.  After early July the rivers should be much easier to cross, but scree on the south west slope tough.