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July 28, 2022
Mount Triumph, NE Ridge
Triumph's NE Ridge is a worthy objective currently in great condition. The bivy site at the 5800' col above middle Thornton Lake is still snow-covered (but will melt soon) with good running water and terrible mosquitoes; snow travel is required to reach this site. A site further into the Triumph cirque is dry but has no easily accessible water.
The approach from the col across formerly glaciated terrain is 90% snow travel, with a few water sources flowing over rock slabs. There was no flowing water at the base nor on the route itself. Transitioning from snow to rock was easy with no moat to overcome but this may change as the season progresses.
One 60m rope is sufficient to rappel the route except the more lateral sections of the ridge which must be downclimbed. As a reminder, inspect preexisting stations before use as some gear is getting old and anchor features change over time - stations are installed by climbers and not maintained by the Park.
June 5, 2022
Keep in mind that “above average snowpack” can be misleading if just looking at a percentage. Thunder basin snotel site, for example, is well above average for this date (currently 1500%), and the site currently has 20” of snow on the ground. Easy Pass is also above average at 130% snowpack but is recording 130” or over 10 feet.
This amount of snow may sound great to some people and not as great to others. For skiers and riders, it is great to be able to utilize the flotation provided by backcountry gear. For climbers, it might mean more challenging approaches, snow on route, and lots of post-holing. Consider bringing snowshoes depending on the objective. For overnight visitors it might mean melting snow for water if the creeks are still far below the surface of the snow.
One thing that backcountry rangers have noticed in recent weeks is that the snow is wet and heavy and not freezing overnight. This seems to be true at fairly high elevations, and for different areas including Rainy Pass, Cascade Pass, and Hannegan Pass. The slushy conditions have made for slow travel, at times adding about 25-50% extra time if not more. This has been true for skiers and riders, and especially true for climbers without any flotation.
Along with snow considerations, the amount of snowmelt and rain have increased the flows in the rivers, and this could continue for weeks to come as the weather warms up. Even small creeks might not be crossable at some flows, and the timeline for high flows might look different this year than in years prior.
It is important to look into current conditions and plan your trip based on what you might encounter this year rather than assuming that it will be similar to what you saw last year at the same time. This includes many considerations, from travel times if the road is still impassable due to snow, to travel speed on snow versus on a trail, and whether or not a creek will be crossable. It might also include planning for a colder environment if you will be camping on snow, requiring more warm layers and more fuel if you are melting snow for water. Remember, plan accordingly in order to have a fun and safe trip.
June 4, 2022
North Ridge, Ruth Mountain
The road to the Hannegan Pass trailhead is currently blocked by snow about ¼ mile from the trailhead. There are not many places to park here, so expect to find an appropriately sized pullout and walk the extra distance to the trailhead. Once on the trail, continuous snow starts between a half mile and a mile in. The trail crosses many avalanche paths, some with evidence of snow avalanches and some with evidence of rockfall. The trail can be hard to locate at times due to a continuous blanket of feet of snow, even on south aspects. Good off-trail navigation skills are highly recommended for anyone going to Hannegan Pass. There are running water sources crossing the trail in a few spots in the first 2 miles, but if you are camping, plan to melt snow for water.
The North Ridge of Ruth Mountain is in good shape with lots of snow remaining. The snow conditions were wet and even slushy in places, adding travel time for travelers with and without flotation. These conditions will likely persist until a freeze-thaw cycle arrives and can firm up the snow.
September 1, 2021
The approach route starting at Upper Goodell Group Camp is straightforward with a few down logs and brush in certain sections. After the turn off for Terror Basin, the route continues towards the Terror Creek crossing. The route to the creek crossing is flagged but some route finding is required. There is a cairn marking the creek crossing and we found a suitable place to wade the creek upstream from this cairn. The Terror Creek crossing was straight forward; the water level was low enough that wading the creek was not difficult. The climber’s approach trail up the barrier and to the col near the Chopping Block is flagged, but route-finding is required in the brushiest sections. It is recommended to not lose the trail; if in doubt scout ahead before proceeding - as losing the trail will greatly slow you down. We found running water above 5400 feet among the heather slopes. Due to poor weather conditions including snow and rain, rangers were not able to climb the Chopping Block. Remember: all parties spending the night in the Crescent Creek cross country zone are required to obtain a wilderness permit.
August 26th, 2021
The approach route starting at Upper Goodell Group Camp is straightforward with a few down logs and brush in certain sections. At approximately 4600’, there is a lot of down brush and trees making route navigation difficult – several route variations have formed and some lead to bushwhacking until you rejoin the main “trail”. Coming down the col to the bivy sites requires loose 3rd class scrambling and is currently snow-free. There are multiple water sources and bivy sites in the basin. Please use blue bags and pack out all human waste!
Right now the approach to Terror Glacier is snow-free and requires terrain navigation. On the glacier to the base of the Barrier requires some blue ice travel and maneuvering around and over open crevasses. At the upper end of the glacier just below Degenhardt, a large moat (20-30ft deep) has developed. We found one spot to access the rock with a large step over the moat, however this access point may change anytime due to weather. Additional ice protection and advanced techniques may be required to cross in the near future. This section of the Barrier was very loose 3rd/4th class climbing. The descent down the Barrier involved a combination of downclimbing and 3 rappels.
From the Terror Basin bivy sites, the ascent of the west ridge of West McMillan Spire currently requires one short section of snow travel to get into the gully. Climbing the gully involves 3rd class scrambling on loose scree. The remainder of the ascent involves a combination of scree and heather with a short section of exposed class 3 climbing just below the summit.
August 11th, 2021
Colonial/Snowfield XC Zones
The approach to Colonial Basin from Pyramid Lake is straightforward and requires no snow travel. As a reminder, there is no water source between Pyramid Lake and Colonial Basin. There are multiple bivy sites along the moraine above the lake in the basin and several water sources around. Travel to the Colonial-Neve Col on glacier is blue ice onto moderately steep snow, straightforward with crevasses easily avoided. There is a snow-free bivy spot at the Colonial-Neve Col which currently has running water - camping here requires a Colonial XC zone permit.
The gully down to the Neve glacier is snow-free and the transition onto the Neve Glacier is free from large moats. Large crevasses and unstable snow bridges are all over the Neve Glacier due to excessive heatwaves this season. Large endruns and careful maneuvering around and over open cracks is required. Make sure to rope up and use glacier travel equipment and techniques. The 3rd class scramble up the SW ridge of Snowfield Peak is completely melted out at this time. Paul Bunyan’s Stump, Pinnacle, Pyramid and Colonial Peaks are mostly snow free except for some small crossings after transitioning off the Colonial Glacier.
July 12th, 2021
The Big Beaver trail is in good condition, brushy in spots but a lot of water available. Once you arrive at Luna Camp, walk a mile more before turning down towards the river. There is a log jam that provides a great crossing over Big Beaver Creek. The climbers’ trail was often hard to find and very steep while climbing along the Access Creek drainage. Getting out of the forest and traveling across the boulder field to the Access Creek headwaters was easy to navigate. There were a few tent pads and plenty of water at the Access camp. Remember to pack out your waste in blue bags if you are on rock, snow or ice. Permits are required for camping in the Luna cross-country zone.
From the Access headwaters there are three gullies to ascend, we chose the middle one. There was a lot of loose rock and a climbers’ trail was visible as points. Two patches of snow remained which was more secure than traveling on the rock. Crampons were used on the way down as the snow in the gully was in the shade. The trail was easy to follow once cresting up over the ridge and out of the gully. There is a lot of water available before you get to Luna Col. Snow travel was required below the col. Luna Col has some patches of snow but it can be easily navigated around. To the summit is snow free.
August 4th, 2020
NE Buttress Mt. Goode
The approach to the NE Buttress of Mt. Goode is in great shape. The trail is clear until the last mile of the North Fork trail, which has some areas of heavy brush. The North Fork Bridge Creek crossing is about mid calf deep and straightforward. The approach requires unprotected scrambling up 3rd and 4th class slabs to the “Alder Tunnel,” an easier-than-it-looks bushwhack up through an Alder grove.
The Goode Glacier is in good shape and currently fairly simple to enter and navigate. The moat between the glacier and the rock (near the “Red Ledges”) involves about 10’ of downclimbing into the moat. This feature will likely melt out soon and create a more challenging problem to negotiate.
The NE Buttress itself is in great shape. We found one snow patch on the route at around 8,500ft (near a small bivy site). We found no other snow on the route. The summit was snow free. Plan accordingly if you are planning to camp on the summit.
The rappells to the Black Tooth Notch and into the Southwest Couloir are in good shape, but please remember to FULLY inspect all rappel stations yourself before committing! There is a large snow patch in the SW couloir that provides some water.
A few reminders: This area is in the Goode Cross Country zone and a permit is required for overnight camping. If you plan to camp on the route or the summit, please use blue bags to pack out all solid human waste.
June 20, 2020
Colonial and Snowfield Area Climbing Conditions
The approach to the Colonial and Snowfield Cross Country Zones and the Colonial and Neve Glaciers are still in early season conditions. The climbers route begins by going around the west side of Pyramid Lake (no camping allowed at the lake!) before beginning to climb steeply up to the ridge separating Colonial and Pyramid Creeks. The trail is in standard condition and easy to follow up to the ridge. Expect to encounter snow soon after gaining the ridge (~4500ft), and becomes consistent after ascending the second of three steps up the ridge (~5000ft). The upper Colonial and Neve glaciers have ample snow coverage and currently present few navigational challenges.
Take caution that the North Cascades alpine is still undergoing a melt-freeze cycle during this time, and conditions have yet to stabilize, expect deep unconsolidated snow and challenging walking conditions until there is another hard freeze or the late-season snow melts out. Small wet slab avalanches and large cornice collapses were also noted throughout the area. Most common times for natural avalanches this time of year are during sunny afternoons/evenings or periods of warm rainy weather. The bivy sites on the Colonial Glacier moraine and the Colonial/Neve col have melted out. Please remember to bring enough blue bags to carry out solid human waste above tree line!
June 12, 2020
September 6, 2019
Conditions on the access trail are in standard conditions, with steep uphill hiking and many blowdowns across the approach trail. The approach trail is an un-maintained route that gains approximately 5000’ of elevation. Some bushwhacking and off trail navigation is required in order to locate the fisherman’s trail adjacent to Blum Creek. The trail is faint for the first ¼ to ½ mile, but once the trail starts climbing up the ridge it become more obvious with flagging marking the way in some places. At approximately 4500’ the trail becomes faint again and some navigation / bushwhacking is required in order to travel to the Blum Lakes area. Many blue berries and huckleberries are present along the approach route.
If camping at Blum Lakes please use a previously impacted site (do not camp on vegetation) and no fires please! A bear was sighted at the lower Blum Lake, so please use a bear canister or UR sack to store your food. Additionally, please pack out any TP, as some TP was located at the lower Blum Lake. The SW ridge of Mt. Blum was in a good shape, no snow travel was required. Some loose rock is encountered on the climb to the ridge and a short step of exposed 3 rd class climbing is required to access the ridge. This is a beautiful, seldom used area of North Cascades National Park, please help us protect and conserve this wild area.
September 1, 2019
The route up to Sahale peak from the camp requires glacier travel, there are currently several crevasses opening up and very little snow. Traveling on steep ice requires mountaineering equipment such as ice axes, crampons and ropes. Please do not attempt to summit unless you have experience with mountaineering.
July 24, 2019
Terror Basin Approach / Goodell Creek / Southern Pickets
Starting from Upper Goodell Group Camp the unmaintained old logging road / approach route is brushy and has a number of downed logs over the “trail”. The approach route up to Terror Basin is difficult to follow in a couple places due to braided footpaths. The approach to Terror Basin is snow free until just before the high col just before the drop down to the Terror Basin bivy sites. Coming down the col to the bivy sites involves some snow and some loose 3 rd class scrambling.
Water is plentiful in the basin. Please use blue bags and pack out human waste. Mice observed at bivy sites, please secure your food with a bear can or other Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee food storage device. There are a number of snow patches on the slabs on the approach to the West Ridge of W. McMillan.
About This Blog
Condition reports come from climbing rangers, wilderness rangers, and climbers visiting the park complex. To make a climbing report, please email the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount. Please include the route, snow level, any hazards encountered (or not), peak(s) attempted, and whether your party successfully summitted. Photos are especially great
All of the climbing routes in the park complex are located in wilderness, but some are wilder than others, and there may be limited or outdated information. Use these reports as a baseline, but plan for changing conditions and a true adventure. On many routes, the discovery, physical stress, and route-finding challenges are half the fun.
August 26, 2017
August 17, 2017
August 02, 2017
July 28, 2017
July 28, 2017
July 24, 2017
September 05, 2016
August 25, 2016
August 07, 2016
July 29, 2016
July 29, 2016
July 14, 2016
July 02, 2016
July 02, 2016
August 14, 2015
September 21, 2014
Last updated: July 29, 2022