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[TR] Mount Chaval - Standard Western Ramp 09/28/2018


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Trip: Mount Chaval - Standard Western Ramp

Trip Date: 09/28/2018

Trip Report:


Ahhhhhhhhhhh.....fall in the high country.  Perhaps my favorite time of year.  Crisp air, vibrant colors, no bugs, and long enough nights to actually get some sleep.  Sure the glaciers are wrecked and the rock often damp, but it give you an excuse to head off the beaten path and do a bit of chossing!  And chossing Kit and I did this past weekend on Chaval.  We had the pleasure of zero trail between the car on the Illabot road and the peak, flavored by terrain that was always just a bit more rugged than the map would suggest.  Given the modest altitude and barriers to admission, I was a little surprised that 2-3 parties a year climb Chaval.  I guess its prominence from Darrington draws many potential suitors. 


At least one likely got more than they bargained for.  We found a pair of Merrell boots neatly tied to each other and hung over a tree branch on the ridge leading to camp.  Huh?  We couldn't come up with a good reason to leave a pair of boots like that in the middle of such rugged terrain, or at least one that didn't involve a rescue.  Just another Cascadian mystery that I probably will never find the answer to.

And isn't mystery a big part of what draws us back to the hills time and time again?





Mount Chaval, "It's like rehab for fat people" .  Kit pauses at infinity fat camp.


It doesn't get much better for fall colors on the west side:


There she be, from camp.


Kit had steel, I had aluminum.  One was better than the other.




This wasn't mandatory, but it sort of was, just because it was there.


Kit just below the summit:


The view east from the top of Chaval:








Trying to beat the sunset:


Time to get out the headlamps:




The gloaming has begun:


Yes, it looked like we attacked North Korea:


My favorite:







Sloan, Monte Cristo Peaks, and Pugh from camp:



As we hiked out, the rain began to fall:


Gear Notes:
Helmet, ice axe, crampons

Approach Notes:
Park on Illabot road, on the western end of the old clear cut near the bridge over Illabot creek. Diagonal across lower part of unit, cross small stream to gain rib which is followed steeply upward to the top of the old unit. Angle up and left to ridge, topping out near small tarn on USGS quad. Follow ridge, generally, to 6100' col where good camps lie with year round water. You'll need to deviate here and there from ridge as it is craggy in sections. Past 6100' col you'll drop off north side to glacier via crappy gully (late season) or steep snow. Follow glacier up to ridge again and the prominent ramp which splits west face of Chaval. Take that ramp all the way to summit ridge and summit via some exposed class 3.

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I know of a rescue on Chaval where someone slipped in a steep forest and tumbled ~80ft into what was described to me as a "small gorge." They had an open skull fracture among other injuries - got shorthauled the next morning to Harborview and survived, they live a normal life now. I've never been near Chaval but it was my understanding that they were doing a "common" route. The boots very well might have been tied up with the intention to get them later. The accident was between 2000-2010.

Edited by Marcus Russi
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Excellent TR as usual Jason. We went in there a few years ago when we got shut out on a Granite Lakes trip (hint, hint...). Our approach was via Grade Creek road, and there is a surprisingly good way trail in as far a Bluff Lake. We must have removed five pounds of completely unnecessary flagging tape.

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16 minutes ago, Phil K said:

Our approach was via Grade Creek road

This road is no longer accessible, I think as of this year.  15+ years ago I came out this way from Chaval and I agree that it was a decent trail.  Given that you can't drive the Grade Creek Road any longer, probably the Jug Lakes fisherman path will be the only trailish option going forward.  It looked ugly getting from the upper Jug Lake to the 6100' col though, at least without snow.

And yes, Granite Lakes!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice report and photos as always. I found a pair of boots on my descent from Stuart last summer. We took the far couloir instead of the standard and found the boots in a pastiche bag amidst house sized boulders. Weird! 

Maybe there is someone stashing boots on obscure approaches all over the cascades. Anyone else find boots in the wilderness?

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15 hours ago, mountainsloth said:

Nice report and photos as always. I found a pair of boots on my descent from Stuart last summer. We took the far couloir instead of the standard and found the boots in a pastiche bag amidst house sized boulders. Weird! 

Maybe there is someone stashing boots on obscure approaches all over the cascades. Anyone else find boots in the wilderness?

Yes!  I found boots on the ground on the schwack from the lower basin camp (5400') to the upper one (5800') en route to climbing Tupshin.  Two old, but usuable sturdy backpacking boots.  


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hey, nice trip (from the occasional cc lurker who lurks enough to know any JasonG TR will be a feast for the chair bound eyes...

I almost hate to pop "another Cascadian mystery" because they are probably way more fun to contemplate than know about, but what the heck, I'm claiming those shoes. I was kind of wondering if anyone would ever come across them...

Just to be clear it was very much an anomaly, I do not make a habit of leaving things in the mountains... in fact if it had been up to me I would still have them but my partner insisted on leaving our approach shoes (we had skis and boots) so I followed suit. This is early June 2014.
As it turns out and as you know that approach is rather long, especially for a day trip. So on the return I talked my partner into skiing down an Illabot-creek-wards couloir that we knew would end but was still way better than traversing all the way back across that ridge with all it's ups and downs and mixed terrain, snow/no snow.  Yeah, way better...
Turns out Illabot Creek is no bushwhacking picnic...took us 4 hrs. for a mile and a half I think... yeah, holy crap. Still rates at the top of the schwack list, at least with pretty much full foliage as it was early June that year. Whenever we saw a log in that morass we would scramble up it, would move forward 50 feet and consider ourselves really lucky for having gone so far so fast...heh...back at the car past midnight...

But you know I love that shit--no, wait...more likely that confounding selective memory--so I went back for more the following year, half-assedly considering the Jug Lake approach but also having spyed a potentially more direct route on the map which I ended up going with...  the unknown turned out fantastically well - 


I guess the only thing missing now is some boot pics??


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  • 5 years later...
On 10/31/2018 at 6:03 PM, kukuzka1 said:

Oh and if anyone finds a walkman with an ac/dc tape in it, on the west side of Kalenteen  peaks north ridge(narrow section) please let me know

Hahaha, I just have to revive this. I can't believe no one asked... @kukuzka1, when did you lose the walkman? Too bad about the ACDC.

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