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[TR] Dome Peak - Dome Glacier - Main Summit 05/23/2019

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Trip: Dome Peak - Dome Glacier - Main Summit

Trip Date: 05/23/2019

Trip Report:

Dome Peak, May 22-24 2019

A mid-week hint of a break in the weather tempted us to Dome Peak.  We chose Dome from several alternatives since the UW’s GFS model consistently showed it staying dry, in what was otherwise forecast by NOAA as three rainy days in the Cascades.  The gamble worked!

The Downey Creek trail is just glorious to “6-mile” (seems closer to 7 mi) camp - easy-going, soft trail bed, old growth forest.  From there, travel and route-finding up the Bachelor Creek trail was easy enough until the notorious slide alder section.

There, Beckey vol. 2 describes crossing to the south side of Bachelor Creek at ~4000 ft (as do a report or two on this site) and Nelson / Potterfield vol 1 describes the crossing at ~3,750 ft.  But some Mountaineers' trip reports describe an alternate approach that worked well for us.

In short, still following the trail on the north side of Bachelor Creek at about 4,100’, cut uphill (north) into the slide alder.  A straight-forward, low-grade bushwack takes you up to the timber.  We did our part to improve it by sawing out a couple dozen 1- to 2-inch branches that made the trail difficult to spot or pass.

Currently a pink ribbon marks where the slide alder bushwack gives way to timber, and from there the trail is but a whisper, but it doesn’t really matter because the way is easy going on an uphill traverse until about 4,500 where there is a log to cross to the south side of the creek.

4,500’ also marked the start of continuous snow. In the open valley bottom, the snow was soft, which  made for very slow going (post-holing) and covered any signs of the trail.  In the timber, the snow was firmer and easier going, so we headed uphill, gaining the ridge between Bachelor Creek and Itswoot Creek at a col at 5540’ that is just above the word “Skagit” on the USGS Dome Peak quad.  

Once on the ridge, we traversed to the col above Cub lake, with nearly continuous views of Dome Peak (see photo), and large bear tracks.  The way was mostly snow on the ridge, interspersed with patches of steep heather and a third class move or two to round the high point on the ridge (on the south side).   


The descent to Cub lake was about half snow, half heather and rock.  We camped in snow on a knob just beyond the lake (see photo).   There were wolverine tracks nearby.


The climbing route up Itswoot Ridge and over to Dome glacier was almost entirely snow, and straight-forward, but for bad post-holing at the lower elevations where the snow hadn't frozen overnight.  Higher up, the crampon conditions were perfect. 

The summit ridge was mostly snow, and though we continued out on it with a couple pickets, a delicate cornice blocked the way at the true summit block (see photo, looking SW).  With huge exposure on the right, 45-degree softening, wet snow on the left, building clouds and a thunderstorm in the forecast, we called the exposed snowy ridge 'good enough' and began descending.


By now the snow had softened considerably, and postholing made the way fairly slow-going.  But the clouds retreated (temporarily), and we were still all smiles.


We returned to camp just before the rain started, and the lightning plus thunder.  The next morning the rain eased at about 7 am, and we began our drizzly hike out.   We liked the ridge traverse so much we repeated it on the way out, and the rest of the way as well.

Gear Notes:
Took two pickets (used both on summit ridge) and one purple link cam (didn't use, couldn't access rock)

Approach Notes:
Downey Creek trail glorious, Bachelor Creek route getting clearer with greater use
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