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soloing the Picket Range - help!


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Full resolution quads:

Concrete area

Rest of the state


I crop & splice these together, and print them out at work, but buying the pre-printed quads is a good idea too.


If you plan on using GPS coordinates, don't forget to draw the grid lines on the map. They are marked on the border but not always drawn across.


Lower resolution, but maybe useful:

Acme Mapper


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MAR - Just a friendly thought: I solo moderate routes all over the Cascades, summer and winter, but I've been very glad to have a quality partner on both of my forays into the Pickets.


Not saying you shouldn't do it, just that you ought to be sure what you're getting into. From what you've said about your experience/technical knowledge, the traverse may be a big step up for you. Making little careful steps, failing gracefully, and trusting my gut have all been important to making soloing reasonably safe for me. It can be a hard place to back out of if things go badly.


Coming from the East Coast, I found essentially everywhere in the Cascades to be stunning; you don't necessarily need to hit the Pickets in order to have a phenomenal trip. Just step out of your car at Cascade Pass while Johannesburg drops car-sized iceblocks a half a vertical mile and you'll know you're not in Manhattan anymore.

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I hereby declare, publicly, the title, "Into The Pickets" be my own original work, and henceforth shall not be considered in the public domain.


© 2011 cynicalwoodsman



wear sunscreen, stay dry, warm, fed, and rested.

Make out a last will and testament.

Tell your friends you love them.

But TRUST ME on the vidcam tracking device!

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Yup, for climbing perspective looking at the pickets from Luna and the ridge to Fury is purely amazing.


Next Best would have to be Sahale arm for perspective anyways and then white rock lakes followed by high pass off of Buck Creek Pass. For different region perspective anyways. Otherwise top of Mt. Triumph is pretty darned good as well. High Lakes route in Alpine Lakes Wilderness is top notch as well.

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Its on the west side of the crest in the ALpine Lakes Wilderness. You are looking at Summit Chief, Chimney, Bears Breast, Lemah etc. Its easy rambling with a huge number of lakes to choose to go to. When my bro and I did it I think we went past about 20 lakes. It is also shown in the Becky Bible. We exited out over Big Snow mountain. Started at the Middle fork went up valley to chain lakes. From there go wherever you wish.


Enjoy. Bring a fishing pole. Mosquitoes at Gold Lake were the worst I have ever beheld. Swatting 3 at a time was not exactly an olympic feat. Going for 5 was a bit more problematic... Was peak mosquito season when we went so we generally slept on the ridge tops. Fall would be an AWESOME time for this ramble as well.


We didn't actually follow the low route as shown on Becky's map we wandered all over the place. One can ridge run between Iron cap and Old Goat mountain as well.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My brother and I tried heading in from Hannegan Pass last september of 2010. We were planning on heading up easy peak over to perfect pass, climb Challenger, head over to Luna, climb Luna, then climb Fury and head back out the way we came in....Weather doesn't always work out the way you want in the PNW. We got rained on, hailed on, and snowed on. We made it just below perfect pass before getting totally white-out with rain/clouds & fog. Couldn't see shit for two days, as we sat in the tent waiting for the weather to clear. Didn't clear and we had to just head back out the way we came.

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I forgot to mention that we were there for 6 days and we didn't make it even a fraction of the way thru the entire Picket Range. Granted we were stuck in our tent due to some intense rain/hail for 2 of these days. But even still, with all the weight from your food/gear/climbing gear it's going to take you a while. 8 days for the whole traverse may be cutting yourself short. Also if you do go in the way I went from Hannegan Pass and up to Perfect Pass to reach the Challenger Glacier, be ready for a lot of elevation gain and loss. Getting to perfect pass is a bitch. The gully that separates Easy peak area from the side with perfect pass is intense. You will die if you fall down there. There is apparently a ledge that you can cross the gully on up high so that you don't have to lose a shitload of elevation in order to reach the bottom of the gully and work your way back up the other side. However, with the shitty rainy weather we had our whole trip it was impossible to locate this ledge and likely would have been very slick and dangerous to cross. Also, just to inform you a lot of the approach to these peaks is off-trail through thick vegetation, and we spotted A LOT of bear shit everywhere. Kinda surprised we didn't walk straight into a bear while we bushwacked through chest high brush. You better be pretty comfortable with routefinding, have a good map and compass. We didn't ahve GPS or any of that shit, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt. And as you mentioned, if you break your leg, your acronym STOP or whatever it was won't do you shit. You will die, unless you have a satellite phone or somehing to call for a rescue, which may not even get a signal due to the rugged terrain. There is a backpacking trail that goes kinda around the entire Pickets that might be more suitable, or just do something a little less intense/committing if you are going by yourself. The North Cascades are beautiful. I have called them home my entire life and believe me you won't be disappointed climbing some other peaks in the area, it's all gorgeous.

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SWS20, the SPOT works fine even in the rugged cascades. I used it on a 5 day northern Picket traverse (little beaver-whatcom-challenger-fury-luna-access creek-big beaver) last summer and I was able to check in with my wife and kids at all locations, whether on the trails, while bushwacking or in the alpine. It would work equally well in 911 mode as well.


If going solo, one could get away with a pretty light pack as well. what does a soloist need beside a little clothing, stove, food, bag, foam, and siltarp? a 35-40L pack would be plenty.



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  • 7 months later...

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