Logan-Goode-Buckner Traverse - Date:
In early August, Keith Daellenbach and I completed a four day traverse of Logan-Goode-Buckner (almost kinda completely) beginning on Hwy 20 near Easy Pass and ending at Cascade Pass. Although a traverse of these three peaks have been done before (I think), our specific route may be unique and since I have gotten a surprising number of email inquiries about details of the route, I’ll post some route beta here with emphasis on the less-traveled sections between the peaks. This specific route was Keith’s brainchild and he pre-plotted the route perfectly. If any of the mileage or elevations listed in this TR are inaccurate, blame him!
This is a cool, one-way North Cascades traverse that summits three 9,000 ft peaks in the heart of the range. There is relatively minimal bushwacking even though only a few sections on are on actual trails. It is an enduro trip that requires good route finding skills with not much technical climbing. After the first day, each day will be well over 12 hours of constant movement. Very classic - a must do for adventure alpinists (for real adventure, do not read this write up – written during a three hour layover which meant I had lots of time to pile on details). I vote this traverse be included in Select Volume III or maybe IV…
Leave a car at the Cascade Pass TH and drive a second car to Easy Pass trailhead at 3,716 ft on Hwy 20 (about 7 miles west of Rainy Pass).
Day 1: Hike uphill on the Easy Pass Creek trail 3.2 miles to Easy Pass at 6,524 ft (gain: 2,808 ft). From Easy Pass, continue hiking on trail, down, down, down the Fisher Creek valley to 3,871 ft, at ~7.3 miles from start (loss: 2,653 ft from Easy Pass). Leave hiking trail and cross Fisher Creek on one of several large logs. Keith crossing Fisher Creek:
Bushwack ~1.9miles/1,130 ft up south/left side of “Douglas Creek” valley (not actual name, unnamed) leading to the Douglas Glacier cirque. Start in an old growth valley that is mostly flat with little underbrush, as the valley narrows and steepens (~25 mins from creek crossing), the valley pinches down with Douglas creek on the right and a steep hillside on the left. Still in the forest, ascend away from the creek up left to avoid some devil’s club-style shwacking. After breaking out of the forest into the alder/boulder open basin (with the Douglas Glacier and Mt. Logan seemingly so close and straight ahead), move left heading to the lowest timber on the hillside above the alder/boulders in the bottom of the basin (it is possible to proceed directly straight up the basin but it is harder shwacking with lots of water crossings). Move through the timber on the left hillside for easier travel and leave the timber on the upper end and bushwack right across the basin to a mostly bare patch/slabby strip descending the wooded knob in the center left of the basin (see pic). Ascend the strip to its top and traverse right to reach snowfields in the upper basin right where the creek exits the snow and below the cliffs beneath the Douglas glacier. That concludes the majority of the trip’s bushwacking.
Looking up Douglas Glacier cirque/basin:
There are two options to gain the Douglas Glacier: ascend out of cirque via the far left side (approx. 9 o’clock) to avoid the cliff band (orange line); or head around 1 o’clock up a snow fan and climb some dirty slabs for about 100M (dirty, up to 5.7, no protection to gain the glacier terminus – very approximately shown with blue line). The latter approach is faster but sketchier. For climbers comfortable with runout/dirty climbing, the direct way saves at least an hour, probably two (that was the way we went on a prior trip). The easier way heads far left up a watercourse and then contours back right across snow fingers and slabs.
Either way, the glacier terminus is gained at ~6,000 ft. Note – you can/should get water near glacier terminus about 1,000 feet below the bivy col, before getting onto continuous snow; or melt at col (on our first trip we found some melt runoff on the south side of the col but on the second there was none). Ascend Douglas Glacier and camp at 6,928 ft at the Douglas Glacier col above the North Fork Bridge Creek divide on slabs/gravel. We got here in about 11 hrs from Hwy 20 going the longer/easier way. There is enough time to summit Logan on Day 1, but the heat of the afternoon made summiting on Day 2 seem like a better plan on our trip. This is a scenic bivy with the NE Buttress of Goode looking all proud and defiant to the southeast.
Day 2: From the bivy col, climb to the Douglas Glacier/Banded Glacier col (easy snow) and then up the final west ridge to the summit pinnacle of Mt. Logan (9,087 ft) which is steep snow followed by several hundred feet of 3rd/4th class. (2,159 ft gain from bivy col). Pic of Keith ascending Douglas Glacier:
Descend back to col, pick up bivy gear and drop over into North Fork Bridge Creek drainage. Looking from col down into Bridge Creek drainage, Goode in distance:
Drop southward into the North Fork Bridge Creek drainage to ~4,116 ft on south side of headwaters of North Fork Bridge Creek (down 4,971 ft from Mt. Logan summit). The way is snow at first to a glorious alpine meadow (pure Sound of Music stuff). As the slope steepens traverse left to reach a “golden staircase” to avoid brush and cliffs that the fall line route would encounter. This staircase is mostly 3rd with a little 4th on nice yellow/red rock and deposits you onto snow in the lower valley. Looking back up valley towards Logan and the bivy col:
Cruise down valley on snow which bridges over Bridge Creek most of the way until close to where you pick up the North Fork Bridge Creek trail on the left (south) side of the creek. Easy snow travel over Bridge Creek:
When the snow ran out and the creek downcut into some steep banks, we climbed out of the creek valley up and left and then a quick, steep shwack back down to the creek. Pick up the trail (faint at first) on the left side of the creek around 3,800 ft. Note – do NOT cross the creek around 3,800 ft to access the Goode glacier (per Beckey and Nelson) since this is way too high but the basin looks like it would lead to the NE Buttress. The correct basin is about a mile further down the valley. Continue down the valley on the trail and ford the creek (up to thigh deep wading) around 3,400 ft with the NE buttress directly above.
Keith fording Bridge Creek:
Aim for a talus strip that extends down to the creek bank. This strip leads to the “watercourse” you will climb up (on right side), which is the first real drainage with running water looking left to right at the basin. There is one dry drainage on the left of the basin which is not the one you want.
I took the pic below from the creek bank with Keith just starting up talus strip and the watercourse to aim for directly above his head:
Ascend up the northeast basin of Goode through a lower cliff band (short 4th class to maybe low 5th), continue up through brush and scree/snowfields and bivy at around 5,400 ft below the glacier terminus. There will be almost no shwacking up to the bivy except for some short sections about half way up. Easy travel just below the Goode bivy:
This is an awesome bivy site! Flat sites for about three people and running water about 100 yards west.
Day 3: From the bivy, head straight up slabs to gain the Goode Glacier. First head east (left) towards a nunatak to avoid ice cliffs and crevasses near the glacier terminus and then cut right to the lower, east side of the toe of NE Buttress. Note – some may want a screw or two to protect some crevasse crossings later in the season since we did encounter some water ice in early August. Moving through crevasses on Goode glacier:
Gain the toe of the buttress from the lower east side. For us, the first pitch was about 25M of dirty (untraveled?) 5.6ish and felt like the only real “mid-fifth” we found on the route. Earlier in the season, I assume you access the buttress higher and avoid our first pitch and access the 4th class part directly. Getting off the glacier and onto the buttress was more difficult than any of the rock climbing since the glacier was overhanging and detached from the buttress (in early August).
Ascend the NE Buttress to the summit of Goode at 9,200 ft (up 3,400 ft from bivy and ~2,500 on the buttress). Endless 3rd and 4th (loose) to about 8,100 feet. At 8,100 on the ridge crest, we belayed one pitch (5.4?) then simuled several hundred feet of lower 5th. There will probably be a snow patch (with bivy sites) for water near the Black Tooth Notch a few hundred feet below the summit. The summit is several hundred more feet up and diagonally right of the snow patch area. The position of the route and the summit views are spectacular but there is no really memorable climbing. A bivy on this summit would be unbeatable.
Keith on Goode summit:
Three 30M raps descend from the summit to the ledge system leading to the actual Black Tooth notch (the ascent route does not cross the actual notch). Down climb about 100 feet toward the west and make two single rope raps (slings) down to the very loose SW Couloir (5.0). Continue southwest down into Park Creek drainage and look for climber’s trail (faint at first, we failed to stay on it) until hitting the Park Creek trail at 3,968 ft (5,232 feet down from summit). Hike northwest up the valley on the trail up towards Park Creek Pass. When the trail leaves the creek and begins climbing up towards the pass, leave the hiking trail at ~4,086 ft and cross the creek (log) to the left side and continue up Park Creek cirque on mostly talus and snow (easy cross country) - eventually gaining Buckner Glacier. It would be best to camp near the toe of the Buckner Glacier and even better to bivy at the Booker-Buckner col. We underestimated the time Goode would take and climbed too casually and lost the descent trail, and ended up camping at 5 Mile Camp about one mile up from where the Goode climber’s trail hits the Park Creek Trail.
Day 4: Head up the Buckner Glacier until two couloirs are visible. Climb the left of two couloirs that access the Booker-Buckner col at 7,365 ft. Pic looking up the left couloir:
Watch out for the snow bridges across the crevasse that cuts across the upper couloir since in August 2012 the one I used completely collapsed within minutes after I crossed and seconds before Keith was about to cross, leaving us on opposite sides of the crevasse and forcing Keith to cross the remaining, much thinner bridge on the right side:
From the Booker-Buckner col, traverse at generally the same elevation westward across numerous ridges. When you get an overview of Horseshoe Basin, down climb the west side of a steep ridge several hundred feet (looks harder than it is but tricky route finding, a few low 5th class moves) to about 6,700 ft and head towards the middle of the basin to gain the Southwest Route of Buckner. Disclaimer – it started to pour on us at this point with some lightning thrown in so we kept traversing and skipped the summit (lame, put an asterisk next to this TR). The Southwest Route ascends about 2,300 ft of snow and 3rd class to the summit of Buckner (9,080 ft). Traversing Horseshoe Basin in the rain:
Descend Mt. Buckner via the ascent route (probably can traverse skiers right on the way down and shortcut out a little so maybe do not drop your pack until halfway to summit?) back down into Horseshoe Basin, skirt below Davenport Glacier to 6,369 ft to cut below the toe of Sahale Mountain’s Southeast Ridge. Ascend out of Horseshoe Basin on a snow couloir, then a 4th class ridge, then a little more steep snow to cross over to Sahale Arm above Doubtful Lake at ~7,516 ft (1,147 up from Horseshoe Basin, last climbing of the trip). Depending on how you are feeling, a bivy here may be desirable (do not bivy here without a permit, backcountry rangers are always present on Sahale Arm). Since we skipped the Buckner summit we had plenty of time and energy to get to the car but there is a lot of trail, switch backs and elevation left to lose to the car.
Descend Sahale Arm on the incredibly scenic trail to Cascade Pass (5,395 ft). From Cascade Pass, hike several miles and 1,904 ft down, encountering countless switch backs, on a hiking trail to Cascade Pass TH at 3,491 ft. Drive car A back to car B trailhead while contemplating which sport crags have the shortest approaches for next weekend…Gear Notes:
Light 60M rope (we used an 8.1mm, doubled for climbing)
12 middle-sized nuts (for Goode)
2 pickets (2 screws would probably be good)
Super light crampons and ice ax
Additional gear notes:
Since I love, love, love when climbers include their special gear secrets in their TRs, my gear MVPs from this trip were:
1) Cytomax. Gatorade is good but Cytomax is much better because of the carbs it includes. I have gone for hours and hours on Cytomax only without bonking.
2) FiveTen Insight hightop approach shoes. I love FiveTen approach shoes (especially the rubber) and really like high tops (either the Exum Ridge or Insight) for North Cascades adventures. The high tops keep out scree and snow and provide comfy ankle protection. I can climb steep snow and rock up to 5.8 in them. I would recommend against carrying rock shoes for Goode since the climbing is easy and the hand/foot holds are abundant. For climbs of this grade, I would suggest that sticky rubber approach shoes or the same as, or better, than “real” rock shoes.
With Adidas’ recent purchase of FiveTen, I would assume a GTX high top with Stealth rubber is soon-to-be realized.
3) One trekking pole. Over the past decade, I went full cycle from using trekking poles to approach the liquor store to never bringing them at all anymore. Luckily, Keith brought poles two and I “borrowed” one for the entire traverse. This trip would have sucked with only my ‘lil Fischer Price ax for support. Approach Notes: