Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Van Trump Park, Wilson Park Traverse

Solitude, breathtaking flowers, meandering meadows, glacial vistas, and herds of wildlife, all within a mile of the crowdzilla at the Comet Falls trailhead. A great place to go during a pandemic, with a spacious/sparsely filled parking lot to boot, on this ~7 mile, ~4300’ gain, S4/T5 scramble.

  • Fri, Aug 14, 2020
  • Wilson Park
  • Scrambling
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The bugs are still out between ~5000’ and ~7000’ elevation, but should be gone in a few weeks.  Crampons are absolutely required for this beautiful loop with much hard snow travel above ~6600’.  Although mostly T1, the crux for this trip is the very short T5 cleaver crossing at ~8000’ with much rotten/loose rock that can be mitigated by a rising traverse to the right side of the gulley, followed by only slightly more solid rock as you work your way up and left (one or two people at a time works best):


    A late June, early July trip would allow for a shorter/easier crossing, but you’d miss those marvelous meadows below.

A great workout with absolutely no trails the entire day.  After parking at the spacious Nisqually Bridge parking lot (~3900’ elevation, on the road between Longmire and Paradise), the approach is to simply walk a bit west (nice wide shoulder) before crossing the road and heading up the ridge just east of the Nahunta Falls stream (another smaller stream, not shown on maps, is on the east side of this ridge).  After intermittent game trails the ridge finally eases off at 5200’ where it opens into the first of many meadows:C27D15F7-F3CE-43AF-A5C6-7F84873F3C2E.jpeg

As you continue up the ridge crest the line meanders between stunning meadows and stands of trees (a particularly noxious mosquito pond is at ~5500’) before finally breaking out into continuous meadows and their beautiful flowers at ~5700’: 731F2928-7789-4142-A24A-44ECE522EE07.jpeg

After crossing Cushman Crest at ~6200’ you finally get a glimpse of the route upwards along the west side of the cleaver:8CB18DD8-A300-4284-BE83-48925F0DC969.jpeg

The views really start to get interesting at ~6800’, with sweeping views to the south of Mt Adams, Mt Hood, and St. Helens.66DD40BD-C38F-4974-8334-A330C2D6A174.jpeg

If you’re fortunate (as we were) you even get to see a herd of ~24 well mannered mountain goats (respectfully keeping their distance, unlike those pesky Olympic goats):FD6DCA3B-E8AC-40B2-A1E6-463FD95CFE66.jpeg

After crossing the cleaver at ~8000’ we descended the stagnant glacier (no crevasses visible) a short distance to a col at ~7700’ that afforded views of the Wilson and Nisqually Glaciers:3F1501F5-DB50-4343-93D0-2A9C2D5686A9.jpeg

After continuing down the stagnant glacier and the talus below, we finally saw the broad bowl of meadows at ~6100’ that we would traverse through on our way back to our ascent ridge from the Nisqually Bridge parking lot:C4CFCE83-409E-4C3C-B809-C475875949FC.jpeg

A great day in the mountains without encountering another party (human that is ;).  Our ascent to the cleaver crossing at ~8000’ was ~4.5 hours, with a total trip time of ~9 hours (included lots of leisurely breaks).  Photos from this (and other) trips to this venue can be seen here.

A topo map with the Cushman Crest—Wilson Cleaver Traverse route create by Dave Morgan Aug 2020.