Mesahchie Peak - 8795' - East Ridge Class 4
NOTE: If you haven't seen part 1 yet, see it here:
Part 1 - Oval, Gardner, North Gardner Peaks
Continuing from part 1, John went to Bellingham for a rest day while Josh and I decided to forgo the whole "rest day" thing and drove back out on Highway 20 until I got too tired to drive any more and we crashed off the Thornton Lakes Road. We decided we were going to try and climb Mesahchie Peak, which was the only peak along Ragged Ridge we didn't get on our three day trip in the end of July 2014. I had wanted to do the east ridge which is supposed to be a great scramble.
After being promptly awaken by a ranger informing us we were a few miles within the national park, and dirtbag camping wasn't allowed here, we quickly continued to the Easy Pass Trailhead. Luckily we weren't ticketed and he even informed us of a place we are allowed to camp! By about 9am, we arrived at the trailhead, still tired since we didn't get too much sleep the night before.
Josh and I made great time heading up the trail and in about 1.5 hours we reached Easy Pass. Along the way, we passed by a large group of backpackers who had ran into Michael, Adam, and Heather a couple days earlier, who were climbing Mount Logan! We informed them they were friends of ours, and chatted a few minutes.
After a short break at Easy Pass, we left the trail and began hiking steeply up grassy slopes towards the crest of the long ridge. We reached the top of Point 7,300 just NW of the pass and saw a couple from Canada up there, who was eating their lunch. After chatting with them about whether the border control is a pain in the a** for them to enter the US (since they give Josh and I such trouble), we began the long traverse.
Since a series of small cliffs guarded the east side of Point 7,690 we traversed on the south slopes below this craggy peak and ascended back to the ridge at 7,480 feet. A few minutes later we were at the 7,450 foot saddle just south of Kitling Peak. Instead of hiking over this peak, we traversed below it at 7,400 feet to the saddle just to the west, where we saw a nice bivy site. From this point, the side hill traversing was over and we were faced with a 550 foot ascent up Cub Peak. It was an easy enough scramble up on fairly stable rock, and ended up being much easier than it looked from the saddle just south of Kitling.
From the top of Cub Peak, we could very clearly see Mesahchie Peak, but we also spotted fresh smoke billowing in front of Mount Goode to the south. Unfortunately, this smoke billow (see photos) was the start of the awful Wolverine Fire that would last the remainder of the summer.
A short Class 3 scramble down Cub Peak and we were on our way to the base of the final scramble. From the 8,050 foot flat spot in the ridge at the base of the large summit pyramid, we descended left (south) a few feet and entered a steep, but obvious gully. Lots of Class 3 was found in this gully, and when it looked like it would cliff out if we continued up, we entered a narrower gully off to the left. There was a class 4 chockstone at the top of this even steeper gully to surmount, but once over it we emerged onto a flat bench and saw both an old rap sling, and a large cairn.
Nice! I remember thinking...we are on route. We continued up a second gully for a while aiming for the ridge crest once again. Just before reaching the crest, we traversed left across an exposed slab and reached the base of the final 150 feet or so. This was the crux and involved a steep Class 4 ascent up blocky rock to the top of the false summit. Bypassing this small knob involved a wildly exposed traverse around its north side. We finished the route by traversing the now narrow, and fairly flat ridge crest to the highest point. We avoided small gendarmes mainly to the north side.
On the summit, we could see the smoke billow getting bigger, but luckily the wind wasn't blowing it towards us, and we had relatively clear air. We had fantastic views of much of the North Cascades.
We were quite lucky there were still a few small patches of snow along the ridge because we had both ran out of water and needed to fill our bottles with snow. Other than that, there was no running water on the entire route. We began the descent which went smoothly. We felt a sigh oh relief once we reached the slab just below the final 150 climb. As I traversed this slab back however, I saw a small camera hidden under a few small rocks, placed there in such a way that it would be cached temporarily. I tried turning it on but it didn't work. Therefore, I was stuck wondering how long it had been there for the remainder of the descent!
Returning over Cub Peak, and back to Easy Pass went quickly, although Josh was getting tired. This ridge, I'll admit was a bit longer than I thought and our 9:30 am start was probably a little late however we needed the extra sleep. Just before dark we reached the trailhead and drove Back to Bellingham to meet John, where we planned the next part of our Bulger Blast, which was going to be a 5 day Chilliwack Trip!
When I eventually returned back to Renton, I threw up a post on CascadeClimbers about the camera I found, and posted a few of the photos to see if anyone knew one of the guys. After about a week I actually got in contact with the owner! He was happy to get the photos back. The camera had been there since September 2011!!!!