Here are some pictures of the trip Mike, Helton and I took on my first
trip to Black Peak mid-October in 2000... Normally during this time of
year, we head to the Enchantments to take in the great scenery and the contrast
the Golden Larch presents to the surrounding countryside. Having heard of
large larch stands near Black Peak, we decided to forego the crowds at the
Enchantments, and come here. Besides, we heard the scramble up Black Peak
was great, and afforded great views of the rest of the North Cascades. We
weren't disappointed - the views are truly epic from this not quite 9,000 foot
The hike in from Rainy Pass isn't that long, but requires traversing the
dreaded boulder field next to Lewis Lake. Ski poles are definitely
recommended to help get across quickly. We camped on a knoll in a small
stand of larch above Wing Lake which provided a nice flat area, and sweeping
views of the peaks to the east. To the west, Black Peak watched over us,
begging for some attention. If you want more Black Peak, check out the cool
traverse we made of the northeast ridge...
- The hike in is straight
forward, from the trailhead, hike to Heather Pass, a little over
an hour with an overnight climbing pack. From the pass, you can
see Black Peak, which is on the west side of Wing Lake... At
the pass, head towards the peak, heading down a path that meets
large boulders. Traverse the boulder field to the left of
Lewis Lake, where it will meet good trail up to Wing Lake.
Several nice camp sites are available at Wing Lake, either next to
the lake, or back on a knoll overlooking the lake. Try to
stay in established sites, as the meadow is very fragile...
Mike took this shot of Helton as we headed out at Heather
Pass. Black Peak is in the background... As we hiked
in it started to snow, Mike shot this video in which I
engaged him on what the definition of snow is (5.4 meg)...
Once our philosophical discussion about snow
was concluded, I was able to present
to Mike these thoughts (2.4 meg)... As we crossed Heather Pass, Mike took this
video scene of Helton
and myself hiking through the larch in snowfall (3.5 meg)...
- Once camp was set, we
decided to pass the time with a little frisbee toss. Here Helton
shows off his technique with Black Peak in the background.
The Golden Larch were at peak while were there. When the sun
broke through the clouds, it was truly spectacular!
- Later in the day, as the
sun got lower, Mike and Helton headed up to the saddle that is
part of the scramble route to the summit. Staying at the
saddle, Mike was interested in the low-angle lighting for some
pictures. While there, he took this nice shot of the summit
from a point on the far side of the saddle. In the meantime,
while taping some of the surrounding scenery from my vantage, I
filmed scary faces as they appeared on a peak across the
| Summit of Black
Peak... After the
moderate scramble to the top, Mike took
this summit shot of myself and Helton. The other Mike was
pretty apprehensive about getting on the real summit as there was a steady
breeze, and there is a several thousand feet cliff just behind me.
And no, I wouldn't back up any further for the picture. Mt. Goode is on
the left, while Mt. Forbidden is in the distance on the right... Mike
also took this video of Helton and myself on
of Black Peak (2.2 meg)... Helton
was a bit timid getting up on to the true summit (1.6 meg), and
is documented in this scene.
- To get to the summit, we
took a scramble route that had a couple low 5 moves to get
up. Not wanting to down-climb that route, we chose to head
down the more traditional way which is the northwestern
ridge. Here I caught Mike as he sits at the edge before the
real down-climbing starts.
- As we down-climb the
ridge, we come to a ledge, which then traverses over to some
steps. There's plenty of room to move across, but since I
was wearing plastics, I still took my time. It was really
fun watching Helton move slowly across!
- Down off of the steep
sections, it's matter of just hiking off now. Here at one
last vista, I catch Mike in front of Mt. Goode.
Unfortunately, high clouds had moved in, causing the skies to be
very flat. This in turn, made the surrounding peaks to
appear bleak and foreboding, as seen in this pic of Goode.
- Being late in the season,
with no real snow yet, the landscape coming down was very stark,
almost lunar in appearance. Here, Mike backed up the
zoom to put it into perspective as I made my way over the scree
and rocks. I haven't been here during the summer, but I
expect both end seasons (summer/winter) are pretty extreme,
because nothing is growing up there. Of course, I'm still
above 7,000 feet here, which may have something to do with it
- Packed up, we head out
down the trail from Wing Lake. There's good trail until the
rise that goes down to Lewis Lake, where the dreaded boulders take
over. Here the larch provides nice contrast to the meadow
waiting for the first good winter snow, probably only days away...
toward Heather Pass...
- As we moved further down
toward Lewis Lake, the route to Heather Pass is apparent.
The extent of the rocks that must be navigated is also
apparent. What's frustrating is that 450 feet must be
down-climbed, and then achieved again in order to reach the
pass. With overnight climbing packs, over the rocks, it's
simply a pain in the ass. At least the scenery is nice!
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