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#1078949 - 08/16/12 09:33 AM [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 *****
Tom_Sjolseth Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 502
TRs: 45 Photos: 1948
Loc: Wenatchee (The Kent of the Eas...
Trip: Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment

Date: 8/15/2012

Trip Report:
I have no words to describe this once-in-a-lifetime journey into some of the most rugged, scenic, and remote territory in the lower 48 states, so I'm going to leave that to Steph Abegg. This will undoubtedly go down as my single proudest and most memorable mountaineering voyage to date. From valley bottom to high glaciers to alpine meadows and jagged summits, this traverse offers a little bit of everything.

To summarize: Steph Abegg and I spent 7 days in the heart of the N Cascades, approaching from Porkbelly Ridge - a name the legendary John Roper coined that describes the steep, brushy ridge separating Bacon and E Fork Bacon Creeks. From there, we traversed Mystery Ridge, Pioneer Ridge, the Northern Picket Range, Easy Ridge, and finished via Mineral Mtn to Hannegan Pass. Over the entire 7 days, we encountered only 4 miles of trail... the rest was entirely cross-country.

Along the way, I climbed 8 peaks, and Steph climbed 11! (3 of which I had already climbed [thank goodness]). Peaks climbed were Berdeen, Hagan, Mystery, N Despair, Pioneer Ridge, Crowder, Swiss, Middle Challenger, Whatcom, Easy, and Mineral Mtn.

First, a special thanks goes out to my Dad (undoubtedly the world's #1 best) for picking Steph and I up at the Hannegan Pass TH at the culmination of our trip - with a 6-pack of beer. Also, thanks to reknowned aerial photographer and all-around great guy John Scurlock for picking my car up from Bacon Creek and depositing it at Steph's house in Bellingham. Without those two, this trip wouldn't have been able to happen as it did. And finally, thanks to Steph Abegg - one of the strongest people I've ever climbed with, if not THE strongest. And I'm not just saying that. I was continually amazed at how tough she is. I'm not used to being the slowest of the group, but I found myself struggling to keep up on this trip. Carrying heavy packs through this type of terrain takes a special type of person, and she definitely has what it takes.

Steph will undoubtedly be along soon with prose, photos, graphs, and flowcharts, but I just cannot put this trip into words. Hopefully my photos will tide you over until she can offer hers.

And now, my photos.


Steph threatening to pour out my bourbon.


Berdeen Peak.


Hagan, Berdeen Lake, Shuksan, and Blum.


Steph doing what she did a LOT on this trip.. eating.


Berdeen Lake at dusk.


Clouds whisping over Berdeen Peak.


Intricate whisps of clouds dance over us.


Morning above Berdeen Lake. I would get to sleep in and enjoy this view while Steph went over and climbed Hagan.


A look ahead to the N Pickets. We would be there in three days.


Views from Mystery Ridge.


Steph enjoying the route on Mystery Ridge.


Lonesome Creek Valley.


Looking back to Berdeen Peak from Mystery Ridge.


Blum and Lonesome Creek.


A similar view to the last photo.


Looking back towards Berdeen and Bacon Peaks.


Scrambling on Mystery Peak.


The Picket Range and Mt. Despair from somewhere on Mystery Ridge.


Steph on the morning of day 3.


Climbing steep snow to escape Camp Misery.


Scrambling to get off of Mystery Ridge.


Traversing the basin below N Despair at the head of E Fork Bacon Creek.


Looking back in that basin.


Snow tunnel in that basin.


Nearing Mystery Tarn.


Mystery Tarn.


Mystery Tarn.


Playing nature photographer around Mystery Tarn.


Steph and Mystery Tarn.


Upper Goodell Creek and the heart of the Picket Range.


Steph descending heather meadows above Jasper Pass.


The view of the Pickets just above Jasper Pass.


Descending into Jasper Pass.


...


Views from Pioneer Ridge.


Mt. Despair from Pioneer Ridge.


My shadow and Crescent Creek Wall.


Another tarn.. they were everywhere!


Gorgeous Mt. Despair.


Closer.


"Balcony Camp" on Pioneer Ridge.


Mt. Despair again.


Self-shot. The big smile says it all.


From Pioneer Ridge at dusk.


Sun sets on Mt. Shuksan.


Another shot from Pioneer Ridge at dusk.


Mt. Shuksan from Pioneer Ridge.


Fields of Lupine greeted us as we ascended Pioneer Ridge.


Cliff Lawson Memorial Summit Register placed by my Dad, Mike Swayne, and Jim Nelson in 2003. R.I.P.
Cliff, you are missed!


Dad's summit entry. Nobody has been here in 9 years? Pioneer vies for the most remote spot in the lower 48 states.


Steph dwarfed by Pickets.


Gorgeous Wild Lake.


Steph descending to Wild Pass.


Ascending Mt. Crowder.


A maple leaf (Acer Macrophyllum) on Mt. Crowder. Not the strangest sighting we would encounter on this trip (see Christmas wreath).


Triumph, Despair, and the wild Goodell Creek Valley.


The Pickets from the summit of Mt. Crowder.


Steph on the summit of Crowder.


Steph beginning the epic descent of Crowder's NE Ridge.


Amid an epic descent of the NE Ridge of Mt. Crowder. DO NOT go this way.


"Class 3-4" on Mt. Crowder (sorry Steph, couldn't resist).


Spectre from Pickell Pass.


A smoky haze fills Picket Creek as the sun sets. Photo taken from Pickell Pass.


Another shot of the same from Pickell Pass.


...


Boot shot from Pickell Pass.


Sunset from Pickell Pass.


...


Lupine.


Lupine and Spectre Peak.


Looking up to Phantom Peak.


Again.


Steph scrambling in the basin below Phantom Peak.


Steph traversing the Northern Pickets.


Mt. Challenger from the West.


Steph in the slot we used to access the Challenger Glacier.


W Challenger.. an objective of ours that failed to materialize due to a combination of our meager
rack (6 stoppers and 2 slings), poor conditions (rotten snow gully), and Fay's doomful recent TR. Next time I will be better prepared.


Looking down at Steph climbing the class 3-4 section.


Steph standing atop Middle Challenger.


Crags around W Challenger.


Steph downclimbing to Perfect Pass.


Our first Christmas wreath sighting in the N Cascades. A rarity.


Whatcom Peak. We scrambled up and down this in 45 minutes from Perfect Pass.


Camp at Perfect Pass.


Mt Challenger as seen from Perfect Pass.


A hot air balloon?


Sunset at Perfect Pass.


...


Steph enjoying the color show from Perfect Pass at dusk.


Steph taking another photo.


Views from Perfect Pass.


Looking back up to Perfect Pass on the descent to Easy Ridge.


Imperfect Impasse.


Pioneer Ridge and Mt. Crowder in the distance.


An unbelievable flower show on Easy Ridge.


Wow!


Whatcom and Challenger from Easy Ridge.


Again.


Aaaand again.


Fields of Lupine on Easy Ridge. I can't get enough.


Gorgeous Easy Ridge.


Descending to the lake below Easy Ridge on the way to Mineral Mountain.


Said lake below Easy Ridge/


...


Gorgeous!


Ascending Mineral Mountain from the East.


The view North from the summit of Mineral Mountain.


Mineral Mountain summit ridge. Much of our traverse can be seen here.


Steph reflecting with a logic puzzle on the summit of Mineral Mountain.


More flowers.


Our final camp on the summit of Mineral Mountain.


Trip Stats:

-11 peaks (Steph), 8 peaks (Tom)
-38,930' gain, 36,720' loss
-55.2 miles (all cross-country except for 4 miles)
-6 passes (Jasper, Wild, Pickell, Perfect, Chilliwack, Hannegan)
-4 ridges (Porkbelly, Mystery, Pioneer, Easy)
-6 goats
-3 bears
-~2200 calories/day (for me - oops!)
-~5600' average elevation gain per day (cross-country, most of it with a full pack)
-1 magical tarn
-1 Christmas wreath
-1 trip of a lifetime
-7 days

Route map:


Original route itinerary.
_________________________
Heavy and slow.

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#1078953 - 08/16/12 10:00 AM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
jon Offline

sprayer

Registered: 10/04/00
Posts: 5874
TRs: 4 Photos: 14
Loc: Plabville
Tom, your trip is to awesome for our parser to handle! I've got my hands in the guts trying to fix it.
_________________________
There can only be three Stuntaz.

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#1078954 - 08/16/12 10:03 AM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: jon]
Tom_Sjolseth Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 502
TRs: 45 Photos: 1948
Loc: Wenatchee (The Kent of the Eas...
Thanks, Jon! I will stop editing for now while you get it fixed.
_________________________
Heavy and slow.

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#1078956 - 08/16/12 10:22 AM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
jon Offline

sprayer

Registered: 10/04/00
Posts: 5874
TRs: 4 Photos: 14
Loc: Plabville
Regular Expressions FTW!


Just don't edit it smile
_________________________
There can only be three Stuntaz.

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#1078970 - 08/16/12 11:12 AM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
Oreshooter Offline
stranger

Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 5
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: Oregon
WOW....WOW...That was a EPIC Trip!
Thanks for Posting the Great Pics!
Great motivation for me.


Edited by Oreshooter (08/16/12 11:16 AM)

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#1078977 - 08/16/12 11:41 AM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
G-spotter Offline
Elite Sprayforce Team

Registered: 12/20/01
Posts: 14809
TRs: 56 Photos: 397
Loc: free range
It sure is cool to have such great terrain close to home.
I think this is a first time I have seen a trip with Steph in it that actually has pics of her instead of taken by her.
_________________________
Bagging a cougar is one of the most enjoyable sporting feats a young man can accomplish

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#1078986 - 08/16/12 12:17 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
markwebster Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 02/12/04
Posts: 593
TRs: 16 Photos: 13
awesome photos, thanks for sharing!
_________________________
I'm living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks

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#1078989 - 08/16/12 01:02 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
OlympicMtnBoy Offline
Marilyn Monroe

Registered: 09/23/03
Posts: 1148
TRs: 38 Photos: 73
Loc: Georgetown (Seattle)
What a great looking route! Nice job!

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#1078996 - 08/16/12 01:10 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: OlympicMtnBoy]
Tom_Sjolseth Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 502
TRs: 45 Photos: 1948
Loc: Wenatchee (The Kent of the Eas...
A larger version of our route map is here (courtesy of Steph Abegg). The other one is too small to see anything.

Larger Map


Edited by jon (08/16/12 02:38 PM)
Edit Reason: fixed image to link

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#1079001 - 08/16/12 01:32 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
trumpetsailor Offline
member

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 127
TRs: 1 Photos: 1
Loc: Seattle
Awesome!

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#1079012 - 08/16/12 04:08 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: trumpetsailor]
Josh Lewis Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 11/01/07
Posts: 558
TRs: 42 Photos: 68
Loc: Lynnwood, WA
Another great trip report! rocken
I admit after seeing this report I'm already wanting to return to the Picket Range. Good job you two!
_________________________
My Websites: www.alpineascent.com www.joshlew.com www.acemaps.com

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#1079016 - 08/16/12 04:40 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
wayne Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 05/14/01
Posts: 3437
TRs: 61 Photos: 607
Loc: Seattle!
Real nice Tom, and Steph.
Any good shots of Mongo?
_________________________
http://waynewallace.wordpress.com/

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#1079021 - 08/16/12 04:55 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: wayne]
Tom_Sjolseth Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 502
TRs: 45 Photos: 1948
Loc: Wenatchee (The Kent of the Eas...
I'm sure Steph got some of Mongo.. this is the only one I got.


Grade VI!

Amazing that you soloed that thing, Wayne.
_________________________
Heavy and slow.

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#1079025 - 08/16/12 05:32 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
Steph_Abegg Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 240
TRs: 48 Photos: 204
Loc: Bellingham, WA


Some route overlays....
Camp near the summit of Mineral Mountain. Can see most of our traverse: Mystery, N Despair, Pioneer, Crowder, Swiss, Middle Challenger, Whatcom, Easy, Mineral.

Here's a larger version.

Map of daily GPS tracks:

Here's a larger version of the map where you can actually read the labels..

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#1079028 - 08/16/12 05:57 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Steph_Abegg]
Dave7 Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 265
TRs: 9 Photos: 65
Loc: New York
So sick!!!!!! Great job guys, thank you for sharing.

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#1079063 - 08/16/12 11:18 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
Steph_Abegg Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 240
TRs: 48 Photos: 204
Loc: Bellingham, WA
I've posted a full trip report on my website complete with maps, route overlays, and over 100 photos:
http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/washington/northcascades/mysterypicket


Here's some of the overlays:
















And a sampling of night photos:









Edited by Steph_Abegg (08/17/12 10:20 AM)

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#1079068 - 08/16/12 11:57 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
montypiton Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 07/04/06
Posts: 658
TRs: 4 Photos: 0
Loc: central Washington
sounds like Steph's leg must be coming along okay... congratulations!!!

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#1079069 - 08/17/12 12:17 AM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Steph_Abegg]
steveheikkila Offline
stranger

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 24
TRs: 2 Photos: 9
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Sweet!

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#1079075 - 08/17/12 07:05 AM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Steph_Abegg]
curtveld Offline
old hand

Registered: 09/01/03
Posts: 992
TRs: 18 Photos: 181
Loc: Bellingham
Man, you two have crazy appetites for adventure! After after all that tough travel to reach Easy Ridge, must have been tempting to catch the trail down to the Chilliwack valley and out. But no, had to keep going up and over Mineral Mtn. Wow!

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#1079117 - 08/17/12 12:00 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
Schaef Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/01/02
Posts: 19
TRs: 5 Photos: 29
Loc: Seattle
What a phenomenally awesome adventure and trip report! Thanks for sharing. Its so hard to get any work done in the summer when you know that is out there...
_________________________
http://www.bryanschaeffer.com

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#1079128 - 08/17/12 02:24 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
dougd Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/03/07
Posts: 710
TRs: 4 Photos: 99
Loc: Spokane
Originally Posted By: Tom_Sjolseth
I have no words to describe this once-in-a-lifetime journey into some of the most rugged, scenic, and remote territory in the lower 48 states, so I'm going to leave that to Steph Abegg.


I am left "mostly" speechless after reviewing this TR and subsequent pics added by Steph, except to say:

Thanks for sharing this story. The experience/knowledge it takes to accomplish this is truly inspirational to those of us taking our first steps to really enjoy the North Cascades area.

d

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#1079155 - 08/17/12 05:23 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Schaef]
JasonG Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 1849
TRs: 77 Photos: 1139
Loc: Mount Vernon
I'd often wondered about the traverse of Mystery and Pioneer ridges, now I don't have any excuse! Thanks for all the detailed beta, I have put it on the list. Sounds like the crux (as expected) is the descent off Crowder....and that you pretty much went the only feasible way down (NE ridge)?

I have to say that those images/vantage points are some of the most jaw dropping I have seen in the Cascades, and I feel like I have seen most corners. That alone is reason to visit sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing your experience!
_________________________
<><

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#1079157 - 08/17/12 05:29 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: JasonG]
Tom_Sjolseth Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 502
TRs: 45 Photos: 1948
Loc: Wenatchee (The Kent of the Eas...
Jason.. actually, I've descended Crowder before a different way on this 10 day traverse of the Pickets from Thornton Creek to Big Beaver in 2008. I consider the gully Sean and I descended that time to be the best way down to Pickell Pass. The NE Ridge descent is dangerous in my opinion and difficult to find good anchors. Either way, expect a giant pain in the ass to get from the summit of Crowder to the N Pickets.
_________________________
Heavy and slow.

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#1079161 - 08/17/12 06:11 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
JasonG Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 1849
TRs: 77 Photos: 1139
Loc: Mount Vernon
Wow, I'd forgotten about that trip. Crowder twice! OK, great info, thanks!
_________________________
<><

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#1079162 - 08/17/12 06:18 PM Re: [TR] Mystery Ridge to Northern Pickets - Enchainment 8/15/2012 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
wayne Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 05/14/01
Posts: 3437
TRs: 61 Photos: 607
Loc: Seattle!
Sik shot Tom!!!
I can hardly believe it myself, these days. Thanks.
Originally Posted By: Tom_Sjolseth
I'm sure Steph got some of Mongo.. this is the only one I got.


Grade VI!

Amazing that you soloed that thing, Wayne.
_________________________
http://waynewallace.wordpress.com/

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