Sloan Peak via Corkscrew Route

This was one of the stand-out trips of my year so far, it's hard to imagine how it could have gone more smoothly or perfectly.

Carla, Brian, and I parked at the "Sloan Peak Climbers Rte." sign at the Cougar Creek trailhead (trail #648). We followed a bootpath to the North Fork Sauk, encountering a surprising amount of flagging on the way. Apparently the Sauk can be a major obstacle at some times of the year, but it was barely knee high for us.

Past the Sauk the trail has its share of blowdowns, and some brushy sections where we couldn't even see our waists -- much less our feet. But overall, it was a fine, shaded trail through old forest, it went quickly. Soon we were at a beautiful, meadowed basin at 4,800'. From the basin we followed a bootpath SE up the broad gully, when the bootpath petered out we followed snow and rock slopes to a point on the ridge above the 5,800' col. Here we got our first view of the glacier.

We chose to start a bit low on the glacier, starting well below the two ledges on the NW side of the glacier. As we roped up we heard a large whooomphing collapsing sound from the glacier, a sound we were to hear a couple more times, fortunately never too close. We worked our way SW up the glacier, zigzagging around crevasses, and crossing a couple snow bridges to the SW corner.

At the SW corner we dropped the glacier gear and followed the well-defined climber's path running along a ledge on the south side of the summit. At times it is narrow and exposed. At the SW corner the path turned up a gulley full of loose rock. From here it was a scramble to the summit, with a few climbing moves.

On the descent we stayed high on the glacier, which was much more direct and avoided most crevasses. We exited onto the upper of the two ledges that protrude into the glacier. From here it was an enjoyable class 2 rock scramble back to the 5,800' pass.

On the way back I enjoyed a quick dip in the Sauk. Brrr.



Copyright © 2006 Gabriel Deal.