Monthly Archives: August 2016

Sloan Peak, “Matterhorn of the Cascades”

Sloan Peak is a distinct looking peak located off Mountain Loop Highway in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness. It has been on my list for a few years now, ever since I first laid eyes on it from across the way. It was taunting me every time I climbed a nearby peak and could see it’s shark fin shaped rock dominating the horizon. At long last, our time to climb it had arrived!

We chose the “standard” Corkscrew route, which would involve three river crossings,  a steep, muddy approach trail, glacier crossing, exposed climber’s trail and topped off with some rock scrambling. This one has it all! We showed up at the trailhead at the same time as a local group of the climbers from The Mountaineers. I knew a few of them, and it was nice to know that there would be some competent people nearby.

if you see this sign, you are in the right place!
if you see this sign, you are in the right place!

Within the first mile of trail, we had to cross three branches of the Sauk River. Since we had been expecting this, we brought water shoes and easily waded across the first two rivers. The third one has a permanent log jam that you can use to cross the river, then it was on with the boots and time to hit the steep trail.

wading across the Sauk River
wading across the Sauk River

The trail was full of mud and roots, and had a few difficult blowdowns to maneuver. The good news is that it was prominent and easy to follow. About halfway up, we reached Cougar Creek Falls, where there is a slippery log crossing. We navigated this by straddling the log and scooting across. From there we followed the trail until it opened up around 5000′ and we found a good campsite.

log crossing at Cougar Creek
log crossing at Cougar Creek
Cougar Creek Falls
Cougar Creek Falls
home for the night
home for the night

At 5am sharp, we were on the move, joined by a couple more of friends that showed up during the night. The trail continues up until it reaches it’s terminus at the base of the glacier. This glacier is small but spectacular, with some impressive crevasses. We went high up the rock slabs on climber’s right before roping up and traversing onto the glacier. The views were impressive and we made our way across the glacier, with the help of  a pretty impressive snow bridge. A steep traverse above a yawning crevasse and next thing we knew, we were at the base of the Corkscrew trail.

moon over Sloan Peak at sunrise
moon over Sloan Peak at sunrise
getting closer
getting closer
crevasses on the glacier
crevasses on the glacier
Glacier Peak
Glacier Peak
approaching the snow bridge
approaching the snow bridge
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impressive crevasses

 

the crew, getting ready to head up the Corkscrew
the crew, getting ready to head up the Corkscrew

The Corkscrew is a narrow trail that lives up to it’s name by making a winding traverse around the mountain. It is easy to follow but don’t slip! Massive cliffs await just below the trail. The views were astounding as we circled the mountain, giving us 360 view of the surrounding peaks.

The trail ends at the base of a loose, rocky gully. This is where the scrambling portion begins. Most of the scrambling is easy, with an interesting move here and there. Another short section of trail, then the final scramble up the summit block and finally we were there -Sloan Peak! It was so exciting to be here after dreaming about it for so long. I was lucky enough to have great weather, great conditions and most importantly, an awesome team of great friends to climb with.

This peak is a must-do for anyone with glacier travel and rock scrambling skills. Get some!

the Corkscrew Trail
the Corkscrew Trail
at the base of the gully
at the base of the gully
scrambling fools :D
scrambling fools 😀
register was too soggy to sign
register was too soggy to sign
summit views
summit views
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so many mountains, so little time!

Stats:

Distance: 14 miles

Elevation Gain: 6000′

NW Forest Pass required

*Bring water shoes!*