Kuato Posted September 9, 2022 Share Posted September 9, 2022 Trip: BOWAN MOUNTAIN (7895') - South Ridge / Southwest FaceTrip Date: 09/03/2022Trip Report: BOWAN MOUNTAIN (7895') – Rainbow Ridge Traverse Approach – SEPT. 3-5, 2022 (Sat, Sun, Mon) Another perfect weather weekend for climbing and a long holiday weekend to boot. Dan O texted and wanted to know what I was doing. I said planning a climb. He said can I go, I said sure. So I had company for this trip, which was a nice change. Saturday: We started from Bridge Creek Trailhead at 6:45am. We headed down the Bridge Creek Trail to McAlester Creek Trail arriving at McAlester Pass (6000’) at 12:00 noon. There is water at McAlester Pass at a lake at the end of the meadow, not the best looking water, but water nonetheless. Distance was about 9.5 miles to the pass and the trails were in excellent shape. 5 minutes down the trail past McAlester Pass was the bootpath for Rainbow Ridge. The bootpath went along a shelf at the base of a boulder field. We walked past it the 1st time and doubled back. The bootpath was well defined with a few sections requiring some searching. The ridge was nice traveling with views of McAlester Mountain. There was some smoke coming up the valley from Lake Chelan, not bad, but enough to make the views hazy. We made it to the main lake on Rainbow Ridge (6100’) at 1:15pm. The lake was very nice and would make a great camp. We made our way up the ridge above the lake, the path was faint at times going up the slope. We made it to another set of lakes on the ridge (6750’) at 2:45pm. Along the way I jumped on top of a rock for a better view and noticed a bush shaking about 50’ away down slope. Out of the back side of the bush came a Grizzly Bear running down the slope heading toward Lake Chelan. I’ve heard of Grizzly Bear sightings in the North Cascades but I had never seen one for myself in the wild. The Grizzly was medium sized and looked pretty young, classic chocolate brown color with the blonde tipped punk rock hair hump between the shoulders. We were both a bit stunned. Holy shit, there are Grizzlies out here! There were several sets of fairly fresh bear tracks in the mud at the second set of lakes. It seems we had worked our way into a bear utopia. We headed up to the summit of Rainbow Ridge (7200’) that offered a great view of Bowan Lake and Mountain. The bootpath ended at the summit. We headed down the ridge toward Bowan Lake. The travel was a bit steep and loose in sections but doable. We arrived at Bowan Lake (6500’) at 5:15pm and decided to make this our camp for the evening. There were also a fair amount of bear tracks around Bowan Lake but they looked to be a day or two old. Sunday: We were up and moving at 6:30am. We headed up the valley toward the south col of Bowan Mountain. We arrived at the south col (7400’) at 7:45am. Our plan was to go up and over Bowan and drop over the summit and follow the ridge down to the Rainbow Lake Trail. One of the maps we had with us made this look like a good option. We started up the south ridge of Bowan, mostly Class 3 rock. We reached a deep gully on the ridge that we could not cross up high, so we headed down looking for a better crossing area for the gully. We found one probably 100 feet down from the ridge. The gully crossing was Class 3 with a little Class 4 depending on your route. We continued across the slope angling up on Class 2 rock. We crossed a couple more gullies using shelf systems along the way that were Class 3. We reached the summit of Bowan at 9:30am. I climbed over to the other side of the summit to check out the route down the ridge and it looked a lot more difficult than expected. Mostly Class 4-5 rock that would require a rope and gear. We had neither so we headed back down the way we came up. Once back at the south col we headed southwest down the slope toward a heather shelf. Once at the heather shelf we headed down and diagonal trending northwest. The hill side was steep heather and rock cliffs all the way down. When we would cliff out we would head across the slope until we found a down route. This pattern was repeated the whole way down. We finally reached the bottom of a deep gully that spit us out on the Rainbow Lake Trail. We headed down the trail to Rainbow Lake arriving at 2:45pm and setup camp for the night. The camps at Rainbow Lake are very nice with a pit toilet. I had planned on climbing McGregor Mountain on this trip along with Bowan. After figuring the amount of time it took to climb Rainbow Ridge and Bowan Mountain, I figured I’d need an extra day to complete the trip over to McGregor and back. I didn’t have an extra day to spare so we settled on summiting Bowan alone. Monday: We were up and moving at 6:45am, heading for home. It was a bit chilly in the morning, Fall was definitely in the air. We headed down Rainbow Lake Trail to Bridge Creek Trail back to the trailhead arriving at 2:15pm. The trails were in excellent condition. On the way back to the trailhead we passed a few people holding a sign about a get together at the trailhead. They said there was a bunch of food for us at the trailhead. We thought OK, we’ll check it out. Little did we know there was a church group that had setup a fantastic spread of food complete with chairs and a shelter. They had hot dogs, chili, beans, cornbread, cookies, brownies, lemonade and more. Coming off the trail dirty and tired, we felt like kings. It was the best ending to a climb I’ve ever had. The people were very friendly and we left with a bag full of food, a homemade cross and a prayer. With so much going wrong in the world today, it was uplifting to experience such great people doing good for total strangers. Some Tips and Notes: 1. There is a lot of bear activity on Rainbow Ridge right now. 2. It requires a lot of work and route finding to get up or down Bowan Mountain from the Rainbow Lake area. 3. Water access was pretty good the whole loop. Travel Time for reference: Saturday: Trailhead to Bowan Lake Camp (6500’) – 10:30 hours. Sunday: Camp to Summit to Camp 2 – 8:30 hours. Monday: Camp 2 to Parking Area – 7:30 hours. Total Mileage: around 28 miles Total Elevation Gain: around 5800’ Gear used: Trekking Poles, Helmet. Lake at McAlester Pass. Rainbow Ridge Bootpath. Dan O climbing out of the 1st Rainbow Ridge Lake area. Bear utopia party on the beach at the 2nd set of lakes along Rainbow Ridge. On the way down to Bowan Lake. On the way up to the south col of Bowan Mountain from Bowan Lake Camp. Heading up the South Ridge of Bowan Mountain. On the South Ridge of Bowan Mountain, Lake Chelan Valley in the background. 1st Gully Crossing on Bowan. Class 3-4. Final gully exit coming down from Bowan, popping out on Rainbow Lake Trail. Bowan Mountain from Rainbow Lake. View of McGregor Mountain on the way down Rainbow Lake Trail. Gear Notes: Trekking Poles, Helmet.Approach Notes: Entered via McAlester Creek Trail, did the Rainbow Ridge Traverse, Exited via Rainbow Lake Trail 2 1 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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