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klenke

[TR] Elija Ridge- From the East over Pk 7160+ 8/6/2005

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Climb: Elija Ridge-From the east over Pk 7160+

 

Date of Climb: 8/6/2005

 

Trip Report:

Mike Collins and I both would like to gain access to Heaven without having to die first. So we visited Elija to consult with him...

 

After a peaceful car-camp at the East Creek Trailhead other than Mike waking me up at 5 minutes to 5 O'clock just as I was throwing something into a trash can in my dream (dammit, I might have littered in my dream world!), we rolled up the highway a few hundred yards to a pull-out at County Line Creek. The boundary between Whatcom & Skagit counties is here.

 

We started hiking up the hillside at 5:40. Soon we were on the long NE ridge of Pk 7160+ ("Tarheel" or "County Corner Peak") and treated to a view of Beebe Mountain to the WNW. We noticed the many large avalanche swathes cutting through the lower forests and realized how fortunate we were to have cloudy weather when we climbed it in late March.

Beebe Mountain from the ESE:

945Beebe_from_ESE-med.jpg

 

We continued up to our first objective for the day: Pk 7160+ (600P). It's an attractive looking peak from most angles and deserves an official name. I propose "County Corner Peak" because of its location at an inside corner of the border of Whatcom County. But Dan Sjolseth had previously called it "Tarheel".

Pk 7160+ from the NE

945Pk_7160_from_NE-med.jpg

Somewhat tenuous Class 3+ scrambling on friable downsloping ledges go us high onto the south shoulder and a final scramble on an exposed fin. 3 hours to here (4,400 ft of gain). Views from there were outstanding.

Views from Pk 7160+:

Snowfield Peak, Gabriel Peak, and Beebe Mountain

173494.thumb.jpg 945Gabriel_from_Pk_7160_-thumb.jpg 945Beebe_from_Pk_7160_-thumb.jpg

Also to the west was our primary objective Elija Ridge:

945Elija_Ridge_fr_Pk_7160_-med.jpg

A quick descent to the 6,300-ft pass got us onto Elija Ridge proper. It was getting hotter as the morning wore on. We knew there wouldn't be any water en route so purposely toted more than usual. Our second objective was the East Peak of Elija Ridge, named "Joseph Peak" by Stefan Feller and Tad Summerset after they climbed it in May 2002 but called "Ezekiel" by John Roper when he climbed it long ago. Ezekiel seems a better fit than Joseph.

Here is the approach to the East Peak:

945Elija_E_Peak_approach-med.jpg

We angled up steep sometimes grassy sometimes rocky slopes to the ridge immediately east of the East Peak. The East Peak (Pk 7521, 401P) was only a short distance away. A tiny snowpatch provided a frozen refill to my Nalgene.

The East and Main peaks of Elija Ridge

945Elija_E_and_Main_Pks-med.jpg

We signed the wet register on the East Peak. Stefan's paper was soaked so we transferred his entries to another piece of paper in there, one left by Don and Natala Goodman last year.

A short scrambling descent got us down to the notch between the summits. From there a direct finish along the ridge looked to involve some exposure so we crossed a slope leftward to an access cleft onto a rib. We then ascended this rib to a false summit where some Class 4 crest scrambling was necessary to gain the final summit of Elija Ridge (7739F, 2019P). Fun yet nervous stuff. Later on the descent: "Did we climb up this arête?" "Yes we did." "Scary going down." "Yes it is." Roughly 5.5 hours from car-to-summit. Fortunately, a cool breeze freshened us high on the ridge. This breeze would be leaving us soon. There was a nice bivy area at the summit. The Goodmans spent the night there on their traverse {Panther Creek to Cabinet Creek}.

Views from the summit:

Gabriel Peak, "Ezekiel Peak", and Cosho Peak

945Gabriel_fr_Elija_Ridge-thumb.jpg 945Elija_East_fr_Main-thumb.jpg 173492.thumb.jpg

We pretty much went back the way we came. Mike had run out of water and I was on my last drops. Instead of going back over Pk 7160+ we chose to angle across the southwest slope to gain the saddle on the peak's Southeast Ridge near Pt. 6740.

Pk 7160+ from the southeast:

945Pk_7160_from_SE-med.jpg

We then descended to the lake below the peak. After a short delay for me to soak my feet in the water and for Mike to soak his brain in nap land, we proceeded down the drainage to approximately 4,200 feet whereupon we began a hard contouring descent leftward to avoid the canyon of County Line Creek farther down. Car-to-car time was 11 hours.

 

This was not a technical but a leisurely no stress outing. The lake at the head of County Line Creek is simply wonderful and the larches above it would be beautiful come fall. A great place to take a date for some solitude for a weekend.

 

 

Gear Notes:

Extra water

Bugs are not too bad except for little mosquitos at the lake

No need for ice axe.

 

Approach Notes:

Park at the point where the highway crosses the Whatcom-Skagit county line. This is a short distance up the hill from the East Creek Trailhead. Walk back down the road 100 yards and take to the slope on the other side of the creek. It's mostly open travel. No problems.

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<Mike Collins and I both would like to gain access to Heaven without having to die first. So we visited Elija to consult with him...> LOL. How creative. Another great report, among many.

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