Bedal Peak-Northwest Route Date of Climb:
On the last day of winter an ennead of Northwest climbers was treated to a little bit of Heaven right here on Earth…
The destination was Bedal Peak
(6554F, 1194P). This is the craggy mountain roughly two miles north of the “Matterhorn of the Cascades” (aka Sloan Peak). Our route was the one from the northwest (from FR-4096, which is not shown on the USGS map). I thought we would be in for a long day. But this was not the case.This is Bedal Peak from the west (from Twin Peaks)And from the south on the way to Sloan Peak
Annette D., Dave C., Greg K. and I met Stefan F., Jeff R., Juan L., and Don & Natala G. at the base of the mountain. What I initially thought would be merely four of us was now nine. Yep, another standard Stefan contingent.
The first auspice was the road access. We were able to drive farther up the road than we expected. Our stopping point was a few hundred yards before the second switchback where the boot path cuts into the woods (c. 2,100 ft near Merry Brook). This already saved us 500 ft of elevation gain. There was a green Subaru parked where we parked. We wondered what they were up to. Their tracks continued up the road beyond that second switchback. They were probably heading into the Bedal Creek basin.
The boot path was followed until we lost it in snow. We then wallowed in sloppy snow angling up and through some cliff bands (this was the only time all day in which I led and those kicked steps sure did wear me out [that’s an excuse, people]). Once above the cliffs the snow got more consistent and the terrain easier. We eventually donned pods and continued up the ridge then to a leftward traverse at about 4,600 ft above Nels Lake (which we never saw) to access the gully that leads up to Bedal’s wide open north slope
. The forest scene was hiemal with just the right blend of blue sky and snowcover on the ground and on the tree limbs. There was a short, icy step up
to get into
the gully, but almost everything else was dreamy powder. It was at about this time that I lamented the type of floaters that were on my feet. I wished I was on my skis.In the gully with Mt. Pugh behindNear the apex of the gully
(photo by Annette Day)
When we hit the apex of the gully we commenced munching on more nice view treats. Here we observed the second auspice: glistening “diamonds”—ice crystals in the snow reflecting the sun’s light. We took a break just so we could make fun of Juan and his Slim-Fast food choice. He said he was on a diet.A hiemal dream scene at 5,500 ft
The views would get better and the terrain more dreamy. We floated up to the north slope proper. Annette commented that our snowshoe tracks looked like someone had stitched up the mountain with a sewing machine. We could see the summit up ahead. We had to traverse below it to a shoulder on the northeast side whereupon we could make the final 200 vertical foot chug to the top.The SaukdolagerSewing a line toward the summit The summit from the final shoulderWhat’s the matter with this horn? Nothing.
The day was gorgeous and moderately warm with only intermittent gusts to remind us it was still winter. The views were gorgeous too. The spire of Sloan Peak and its North Face slackened our jaws. Annette said it was so incredible looking that it couldn’t be real, that it was merely a painting. It might have been. We couldn’t get close enough to touch it but we sure could sense
its presence. Did we have ESP like those smarty pants members of the Giga Society
We spotted tracks leading up to and back from Sloan’s West Face
. These tracks no doubt belonged to the owners of the green Subaru we parked next to. Had they attempted that unclimbed winter ice route on the face? They had already left by the time we got back to the cars. It turns out this was W____ _____e of CC.com doing a little recon.Sheltering the Buddha from the sun
We had made the summit in 4 hours (at least an hour shorter than I expected). We stayed an hour or so…or until we ran out of film, which was not even hard to do for those among us who suffer from digitalitis. When you’ve got views like this, you can see why: Big Four Mountain featuring the Dry Creek Route
Did Phil F. and the Hummels just ski that couloir? Yes—yes they did
. Or watch the video
25Mb, 7:33 minutes). This video is a must see for those of us who were on Bedal who climbed this same route (but not on skis): that means you Greg, Stefan, and Juan.
We got back to the car in about 2.5 hours. Glissading in the woods was again fun. Another good time shared by nine! As a broken record among us repeated often on the drive home, “What a great day…what a great day…what a great day!” And that it was…it was…it was…it was…
Don served us Amstel Lights out of a box...while wearing an OSAT cap!A little (Amstel) Light moment at the cars
(photo by Greg Koenig)
If someone is looking for a leisurely ski ascent, this would be it. One could yo-yo the north slope a few times at roughly 1,500 vertical feet per run. The conditions on Sunday were outstanding for skiing. Did I say I wished I had my skis?
Information taken from the Tacoma Public Library’s online resource:
"This [peak] was named for James Bedal, founder of Bedal mines in the area. Bedal married a daughter of Chief Wawetkin, a leader of the Sauk Indians and their son, Harry Bedal, worked for the U.S. Forest Service for many years. (Cardle, Snohomish County, p. 7)" Gear Notes:
Used: Snowshoes, Camera
My skis were in the wrong place: cozy in my home. Approach Notes:
Take FR-4096 south of Bedal Campground. Take this to second switchback (c. 2,100 ft) and find boot path cutting into the woods.