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[TR] Challenger, Luna, Whatcom- Northern Pickets Hannegan to Ross Lake 7/28/2005

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Climb: Challenger, Luna, Whatcom-Northern Pickets Hannegan to Ross Lake

 

Date of Climb: 7/28/2005

 

Trip Report:

Short Story:

 

Started at Hannegan Pass Sunday night and ended at Big Beaver Landing Ross Lake Thursday afternoon, basically crossing the park. We entered the Pickets via climbing Whatcom Peak. We climbed Challenger/Luna and traversed the Luna Cirque. Amazing scenery and adventure!

 

See more pictures in my gallery here

 

Long Story:

 

The partnership of last weeks Eldorado Ice Cap trip continued into the Northern Pickets. The car shuttle took awhile to set-up, but in retrospect I think it was worth it. After we finished work on Sunday, we set out finally arriving at the Hannegan trailhead at 10 pm. We made it to Hannegan Pass under a beautiful star-filled sky with headlamps at 11:30 pm.

 

Day 1: An early wake up to climb Hannegan Peak for some views. It was nice with a great display of wildflowers up there. We got back to camp and were off down to the Chilliwack River at 8 am. The trail here was great and nicely downhill so we made great time to the cable car. The cable car wasn’t really needed, but we did it anyways for fun. Brush Creek is aptly named right now as there is copious brush to deal with. A small section of washed out trail is easy to navigate through. Finally at Whatcom Pass, we continued up the steep trail to Tapto/Middle Lakes. We first surveyed Middle Lakes, but decided that Tapto fit the bill. A glorious afternoon of exploring around the lakes and alp slopes above concluded with a great sunset.

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Day 2: Sunrise provided awesome reflections in the lakes, but we knew we had a long day ahead so we packed up and left at 7:30 am. Whatcom Arm and Peak took longer than planned, but we finally made the summit and continued down the ridge to meet the snow. The snow patch from Whatcom to Perfect Pass was one spot that allowed for quick progress. From Perfect Pass down to the glacier, we had to downclimb some slabs that were manageable. Once on the Challenger Glacier, we made good progress once again traversing the Challenger Glacier with few crevasses on the route (although many gaping ones above and below) finally arriving at the eastern shoulder of the mountain. The walk from here to the summit block was straightforward with no bergshrund problem. The 40 foot rock block was a fun bit of rock climbing. From the summit, we made it to the rocks at the foot of the mountain in a half hour. It was nice to have sun here for another few hours to rest and dry things out.

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Day 3: Departing at 8:30 am. We traversed the eastern section of the Challenger Glacier and then entered Luna Cirque. At first the going was fast traversing heather and wildflower meadows with stupendous views all around. Then there were innumerable streams to cross, loose boulder fields, more loose boulder fields, mega-flies (with stinging bites) and then the mucky glacier above Lousy Lake, another aptly named feature. Refusing to descend all the way to Lousy, we found a reasonable route up a stream in the moraine which put us near Luna Lake. Luna Lake to Luna high pass was a fun route with boulder fields, granite slabs, heather, and finally snowfields, arriving at the pass just before 5 pm.

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Day 4: We knew Luna Peak was one objective we would wake up for. I got up at 4:45 and set out at 5 am. I reached the summit at 5:30 as the colors of the sky were advancing from the east. The next two hours on the summit of Luna seemed like they past in a flash - a truly amazing morning. I was happy to have cell phone reception at the summit to organize a boat pick up at Beaver Landing. Quick work back to our camp at Luna High pass, packing up, and we were off at 8:30 am. The traverse from Luna High pass to the gully heading down to Access Creek was awesome with wildflowers and the Southern Pickets always in sight. Once we descended the ridge, the grunt work began. We stopped at the head of the valley to fill up on water, but flies prevented us from resting too long. The bushwhacking thru groves of old-growth slide alder sucked, but I disliked the devils club further down even more. Big Beaver River was a pleasant sight to see and we didn’t even bother looking for a log, instead wading right thru to the other side. Laying on the trail on the other side, we were immediately covered by a swarm of flies. The hand I was using to swat the flies was covered in flies! Suffice to say, we were outta there! The walk down the Big Beaver Trail went by really fast despite the blisters on the bottom of my feet. We made it to the boat dock at 4:15 pm with plenty of time to chill for the water taxi that arrived at 6 pm.

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The Northern Pickets were a great adventure. It seems like the mountains first want to try and keep you out, and once you’re in, they make it hard to get out! It’s basically impossible to accurately describe the highs and lows of the Northern Pickets, but I think the highs definitely win out once you can start to reflect on the boat dock at Ross Lake! My partner for this trip was totally awesome. While our judgment and skills were tested in the beginning, we prevailed resulting in a stronger partnership and friendship.

 

See more picture in my gallery here

 

 

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Gear Notes:

Glaicer gear, a couple quickdraws and slings for short section of rock on Challenger. Shoulda had Jungle Juice.

 

Approach Notes:

Trail to Brush creek intersection great. Brush creek brushy (!). Big Beaver trail in good shape.

 

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Nice TR and great pics (I really like the reflection shot of Whatcom). We're heading in this week, and I appreciate the beta and hearing about conditions. Thanks for posting.

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It doesn't get any better than that!!!!

The photo at the base of Luna Lake with the flowers in the foreground and the peaks in the back is totally rad!

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Great report. You both must be incredibly strong. We just took 5 days to climb Challenger alone and felt THAT was quite an effort. Nice pictures.

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I have a couple questions, please:

1. Is Luna Lake in Luna Cirque?

2. Is Luna High Pass on the Southern Ridge of Luna? Is that where you camped night before you climbed Luna? Did you solo Luna?

3. is there anything technical on the route from Luna high pass over to the ridge above Access Lake?

 

Thanks for a great TR

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