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Ptarmigan Traverse

Ptarmigan Traverse August 5 – 10, 2004
Anne O’Leary Brink, Sue Shih, John Bell
Total mileage and elevation gain: 52.5 miles 16,096 elevation gain
All times below are +/- 0.5 h and do not include breaks.

Day 1 – Cascade River Road to Kool Aid Lake via Cache Col (10am start)
Car to Cascade Pass: 2 h
Pass to Cache Col: 3 h
Col to Camp: 1 h
Notes: Could go further to campsites available beyond Red Ledges.

Day 2 – Kool Aid Lake to Yang Yang Lakes (6:45am start)
Kool Aid Lake to Spider-Formidable Col: 3 h
Descend from Col: 2 h
Base of Col to Camp: 3 h
Notes: Short section of steep snow and moat approaching Red Ledges. Very steep snow descending Spider-Formidable Col which required two hand lines anchored with dead men pickets. Above Yang Yang Lakes there are good camp sites on ridges for launching to climb Formidable; no water except snow. If you want to go further beyond Yang Yang Lakes there is good camping at La Conte Pass above Yang Yang Lakes with tarns for water source (out of view).

Day 3 – Yang Yang Lakes to White Rock Lakes (6:45am start)
Yang Yang Lakes to La Conte-Sentinal Col: 5 h
Old Guard scramble: 3.5 h
La Conte-Sentinal Col to White Rock Lakes: 2 h

Notes: Crossing La Conte Glacier required significant amount of route finding to identify safe snow bridges to cross. This was the crux of the traverse. After La Conte-Sentinal Col, traverse and go directly to the weather station pole. Descend from pole on steep trail to the snow in order to regain snow and traverse to Lizard Pass. Bear tracks sighted. Steep scree approaching White Rock Lakes from Lizard Pass. Lots of marmots at lakes.

Day 4 – White Rock Lake to Itswoot Ridge (8am start)
White Rock Lake to Spire Col: 4 h
Spire Col to Itswoot Ridge: 2 h
Notes: After Spire Col followed Becky’s description to take 3rd gully on skiers right which provided pathway on snow directly to camp on ridge.

Day 5 – Dome Peak (3am start)
Camp to notch:
Notch to summit:


Notes: Gained elevation early to 7200’ and then traversed high to reach glacier. Steep ice on traverse required pickets and was slower going. Instead recommended path is to follow trail from camp, traversing low through boulder fields (trail continues) to large cairn on moraine indicating better access gully. Used nuts on traverse to summit. Slung boulder before the whale’s back with a cordelette. Yes, we planked the whale!

Day 6 – Itswoot Ridge to Suiattle River Road (5am start)
Camp to Downy Creek: 7h
Downy Creek to Suiattle River Road: 3.5 h
Suiattle River Road to Cars: 3 h
Notes: Significant undergrowth and trees in Bachelor Creek. Trail finally became obvious at approximately 4000 ft. Downed trees on Downey Creek trail as well. At Suiattle River Road crossed bridge under construction by one person scrambling down scaffolding without pack. Used metal ladder available in bushes. Lowered packs separately off bridge. Could also have done approximately 20 foot free rappel off bridge if needed.

Safety: Carried a personal locator beacon and a cell phone. No cell phone reception with Verizon the entire traverse.

Road conditions: Due to road closure and bridge construction getting back to cars requires 9mi hike on road and possible 20ft free rappel off end of bridge to reach road.

Gear: In addition to standard glacier gear brought 4 nuts, 1 small cam and cordelette. Used nuts and cordelette on Dome Summit. Used 2 pickets several times. Extra lightweight shoes are helpful for camp and hike out. Crocs with Superfeet insoles from boots worked well.

Weather: Some clouds and wind but overall good weather throughout trip. Significant forest fire smoke limiting visibility in the distance on 2nd to the last day.

Food: No incidents of animals getting in to food during the night or while climbing. Everyone used Loksak odor proof barrier bags to eliminate food odors. Also brought one Ursack Kevlar food sack with Loksak but Ursack did not appear necessary. Evidence of bears above White Rock Lake but no sightings. One incident of a rodent chewing on an ice ax leash and trekking pole loop at White Rock Lake.

Flora/Fauna: Ptarmigans, marmots, pikas, goat, deer, bear tracks. Innumerable wild flowers including valerian, bistort, mouse on a stick, silky phacelia, tiger lily, Indian pipe, white and red Indian paint brush, orange agoseris.

 

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Eileen Kutscha Jackson
Eileen Kutscha Jackson says:
Mon, May 23, 2016 11:45 AM

<p>Ptarmigan Traverse August 5 – 10, 2004 <br />Anne O’Leary Brink, Sue Shih, John Bell <br />Total mileage and elevation gain: 52.5 miles 16,096 elevation gain <br />All times below are +/- 0.5 h and do not include breaks. <br /> <br />Day 1 – Cascade River Road to Kool Aid Lake via Cache Col (10am start) <br />Car to Cascade Pass: 2 h <br />Pass to Cache Col: 3 h <br />Col to Camp: 1 h <br />Notes: Could go further to campsites available beyond Red Ledges. <br /> <br />Day 2 – Kool Aid Lake to Yang Yang Lakes (6:45am start) <br />Kool Aid Lake to Spider-Formidable Col: 3 h <br />Descend from Col: 2 h <br />Base of Col to Camp: 3 h <br />Notes: Short section of steep snow and moat approaching Red Ledges. Very steep snow descending Spider-Formidable Col which required two hand lines anchored with dead men pickets. Above Yang Yang Lakes there are good camp sites on ridges for launching to climb Formidable; no water except snow. If you want to go further beyond Yang Yang Lakes there is good camping at La Conte Pass above Yang Yang Lakes with tarns for water source (out of view). <br /> <br />Day 3 – Yang Yang Lakes to White Rock Lakes (6:45am start) <br />Yang Yang Lakes to La Conte-Sentinal Col: 5 h <br />Old Guard scramble: 3.5 h <br />La Conte-Sentinal Col to White Rock Lakes: 2 h <br /> <br />Notes: Crossing La Conte Glacier required significant amount of route finding to identify safe snow bridges to cross. This was the crux of the traverse. After La Conte-Sentinal Col, traverse and go directly to the weather station pole. Descend from pole on steep trail to the snow in order to regain snow and traverse to Lizard Pass. Bear tracks sighted. Steep scree approaching White Rock Lakes from Lizard Pass. Lots of marmots at lakes. <br /> <br />Day 4 – White Rock Lake to Itswoot Ridge (8am start) <br />White Rock Lake to Spire Col: 4 h <br />Spire Col to Itswoot Ridge: 2 h <br />Notes: After Spire Col followed Becky’s description to take 3rd gully on skiers right which provided pathway on snow directly to camp on ridge. <br /> <br />Day 5 – Dome Peak (3am start) <br />Camp to notch: <br />Notch to summit: <br /> <br /> <br />Notes: Gained elevation early to 7200’ and then traversed high to reach glacier. Steep ice on traverse required pickets and was slower going. Instead recommended path is to follow trail from camp, traversing low through boulder fields (trail continues) to large cairn on moraine indicating better access gully. Used nuts on traverse to summit. Slung boulder before the whale’s back with a cordelette. Yes, we planked the whale! <br /> <br />Day 6 – Itswoot Ridge to Suiattle River Road (5am start) <br />Camp to Downy Creek: 7h <br />Downy Creek to Suiattle River Road: 3.5 h <br />Suiattle River Road to Cars: 3 h <br />Notes: Significant undergrowth and trees in Bachelor Creek. Trail finally became obvious at approximately 4000 ft. Downed trees on Downey Creek trail as well. At Suiattle River Road crossed bridge under construction by one person scrambling down scaffolding without pack. Used metal ladder available in bushes. Lowered packs separately off bridge. Could also have done approximately 20 foot free rappel off bridge if needed. <br /> <br />Safety: Carried a personal locator beacon and a cell phone. No cell phone reception with Verizon the entire traverse. <br /> <br />Road conditions: Due to road closure and bridge construction getting back to cars requires 9mi hike on road and possible 20ft free rappel off end of bridge to reach road. <br /> <br />Gear: In addition to standard glacier gear brought 4 nuts, 1 small cam and cordelette. Used nuts and cordelette on Dome Summit. Used 2 pickets several times. Extra lightweight shoes are helpful for camp and hike out. Crocs with Superfeet insoles from boots worked well. <br /> <br />Weather: Some clouds and wind but overall good weather throughout trip. Significant forest fire smoke limiting visibility in the distance on 2nd to the last day. <br /> <br />Food: No incidents of animals getting in to food during the night or while climbing. Everyone used Loksak odor proof barrier bags to eliminate food odors. Also brought one Ursack Kevlar food sack with Loksak but Ursack did not appear necessary. Evidence of bears above White Rock Lake but no sightings. One incident of a rodent chewing on an ice ax leash and trekking pole loop at White Rock Lake. <br /> <br />Flora/Fauna: Ptarmigans, marmots, pikas, goat, deer, bear tracks. Innumerable wild flowers including valerian, bistort, mouse on a stick, silky phacelia, tiger lily, Indian pipe, white and red Indian paint brush, orange agoseris.</p>