Trip: Bonanza - Mary Green Glacier
Summary: Dylan and I climbed the Mary Green Glacier route on Bonanza over a three day weekend (July 3-5) by way of Lucerne-Holden. The route is in; the final rock scramble is easily accessed from the upper glacier. Crevasses are easy to navigate. The real crux of the trip was just getting to Holden in the first place!
Details: Our adventure started off with a 430 AM departure from Seattle so that we would make it to Fields Point in time for the ferry. After a long drive (4 hours) we arrived at Fields Point, but we found out that the bus to Holden only runs Sat-Sun on account of the mine remediation project going on there. Also, the road to Holden is closed to hikers and so are many of the trails near Holden. Guess we should have done more research! After scratching our heads for a bit, we decided to just go anyway and see if we could beg a ride up on one of the supply busses that goes to Holden. Crossing our fingers, we paid out the dough for the ferry and enjoyed the several-hour-long ride up Lake Chelan.
And boy was this trip to be expensive!
- $60 ea for the ferry tickets
- $10 ea for the bus to Holden
- $14 for parking
...or maybe we are just cheap.
At the Port of Lucerne we saw a supply bus and tried to beg our way to a ride, but to no avail. The lady mentioned something about "liability reasons" (huh?), claiming that she knew it really sucked, but we could not hitch a ride. I bet she had no idea just how much it would suck. After scratching our heads for a bit (and heaping curses on the people of Holden), we found a cunning path along abandoned trails and via bushwhacking that would get us to Holden without entering into the verboten area, just 12 miles to go! So, we bushwhacked 5 miles up the severely overgrown Railroad Creek trail, then 5 or so miles of easier wooded trail, then bushwhacked to the valley bottom, waded across the waist-deep river, then through heinous alder to another trail on the other side, and finally to Holden. Yeah, it sucked. And it was hot. By the time we got to Holden, it was getting dark, so we set up camp at the forest service campground just outside of town.
The next morning we hiked 5 miles up trail to Holden Lake, then a few more miles along worse trail to Holden Pass. From Holden Pass, we traversed rocky ledges with numerous waterfalls until we could move up to the base of the glacier. Nothing above class 3. I'd recommend staying as far right as possible on the waterfall ledges because ice blocks threaten the ledges on the left. We saw ice falls come down the ledges several times during the day.
Once on the glacier, we stayed far right until just below the final summit pyramid, which avoids the crevassed central portion of the glacier. At the plateau below the pyramid, we traversed climbers left to access the glacial ramp leading to the rock portion of Bonanza. The glacial ramp is in great shape and it is easy to step onto the rock.
The final rock section is about 500' (or more) of 3rd/4th class scrambling. I found that you could always find a 3rd class option by looking to the right or left of the central gully. I also thought that the rock was pretty good by North Cascades standards. A final exciting traverse on a ridge crest brings you to the spectacular summit. What a view!
After soaking in the views, we descended all the way back down to Holden, reaching camp at dusk. The next day, we got up leisurely and ambled into town around 10 AM. Much to our delight, we caught a bus going down to Lucerne. We then upgraded our tickets to get on the Lady Express so that we could get home a reasonable time.
Fording the river on our hike to Holden
Holden Lake and Bonanza
Heading up to Holden Pass
The grassy ledges that we traversed
A crevassed glacier
Heading up to the summit pyramid
The condition of the glacial ramp