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[TR] Dakobed Traverse - Clark Mtn to W Tenpeak 8/6/2011

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Birddog and I linked up for a great traverse of the Dakobed Range this past weekend. The original plan was to climb Tenpeak and W Tenpeak from White River via Thunder Basin, but a sudden change of heart (mid-approach) led to us embarking on a rugged, scenic, and unique traverse.


Day 1


From White River TH, it is ~7 miles to the turn off to Thunder Basin, the now standard approach to the Tenpeak massif. As we ascended the trail, the insects soon became oppressive. Just after Boulder Pass Trail, the White River Trail got very brushy. From that point on, we couldn’t see our feet, and could only barely make out the faint outline of a trail. After about 10 minutes of this, as I looked at the relatively brush-free cliffs just adjacent to us, I remembered a trip Paul Klenke and I shared where we climbed Clark and Luahna in a day via a watercourse draining Clark’s SE slopes - it was a very direct and trouble-free route, a from-scratch route that Paul Klenke is quite good at coming up with. I asked Geoff if he was interested in this route, and he said, “sure”. So it was settled, we were now doing a traverse.


Since we didn’t leave the trailhead until about 4:30PM, we decided to camp on flat slabs just adjacent to the watercourse. We had a great sleep among clear skies.



Day 2


The next morning we awoke and began climbing up the watercourse, crossing three times to avoid brush and cliffs. After about 1000’, the slabs and brush turn into very pleasant heather and abundant wildflowers. The wildflowers are in full bloom right now, and in combination with all the snow up high and the greenery and the cascading waterfalls, it was a sight!


After about 4000’ of climbing, we finally topped out on a ridge overlooking Boulder Pass. We followed the ridge about 1 mile on or near its crest until we got to the slopes below Clark Mtn. The scramble of Clark on its S side is class 3. The summit register is a big white Mountaineers PVC tube placed by Art Freeman.


As it was getting later in the day, we descended Clark in search of a campsite. We found a dry one with running water at 7700’ in the basin between Clark and Pt 7970. That evening, we headed up to the summit of Pt 7970 to get a view of the sunset. I’m glad we did, because we were treated to one of the neatest sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. Glacier Peak, Kololo, and the entire Tenpeak Massif were the dominant features. Splendid.




Geoff ascending steep slopes below Clark Mtn.




Looking down to White River.




Tiger Lily.




Lupine and Indian Paintbrush.




The view towards Saul and Indian Head.




Typical terrain on the approach to Clark Mtn.








Kololo, Tenpeak, and Glacier Peak.




Geoff descending steep snow below Clark Mtn.




The slopes we traverse.




Mt. Saul and Indian Head.




Geoff traversing. The antenna strapped to his backpack is actually connected to a tiny personal locator beacon implanted in his lower back..




Views to Glacier Peak.




The Tenpeak massif and Glacier Peak.




Louis Creek. That's a lot of water!




Buck Mountain and Louis Creek Basin. Entiat Range beyond.




A pinnacle above Boulder Pass.




Geoff on the summit of Clark Mountain.




Looking towards High and Buck Creek Passes.




Clark Mountain. The gully we used to descend can be seen at upper right.




Looking N to Fortress and Bonanza.




Fortress and Bonanza.




Sunset on Glacier Peak.




Beautiful colors over Sloan Peak.




Glacier Peak at Sunset.




Sunset over the Monte Cristo Range.




Sloan Peak peeking above the lucid cloud deck, bathed in reds and ambers.




The last rays of light.




Day 3


We were up and about at 7AM, but didn’t get moving until 8:30. Our goal this day was to traverse between 7400’-7800&.jpg’ over to Thunder Basin, then climb Tenpeak and W Tenpeak before setting up camp just below W Tenpeak. The traverse from Clark involves crossing some minor ribs, traversing some class 3 ledges and snowfields, then dropping down onto snow in Thunder Basin. Meanwhile, the views to Glacier Peak and Kololo were jaw-dropping. The amount of snow still present up there is almost unbelievable.. it looks like June!


In one tricky spot descending into Thunder Basin, we made a 30m rappel onto snow. From here, it was just a matter of linking up snowfields for a traverse over to Tenpeak.


We arrived at Tenpeak rather late, so we decided to just climb Tenpeak today and then find a camp site just below the summit block. The climb of Tenpeak was delightful, with some 5th class climbing up a leftward-trending crack about 50’ below the notch in the E Ridge. We found two rusty pitons on route, and two belay stations.


Tenpeak doesn’t get climbed much.. in fact, we were the 7th party to sign the register since 2000, and only the 2nd party since 2005 (the other being Fay Pullen, Matt, and Mtn Mike)! With the Suiattle access taken away, this remote massif is now even more remote.


After enjoying the sunshine and magnificent views to Glacier Peak and the Suiattle River headwaters, we rappelled back down to our gear, and proceeded down to ~7500’ where we found a suitable camp site on a rock and heather island.




A thin layer of fog (or mosquitoes?) in the valley.




The Tenpeak massif.








Geoff traversing ledges and wet heather.




Rappelling into Upper Thunder Basin.




Looking down into Thunder Basin.




Geoff climbing up Tenpeak. Suiattle River headwaters below.




Upper Suiattle River.




Part of the Tenpeak massif with Buck Mountain beyond.




Luahna and Clark.




W Tenpeak and Kololo from the summit of Tenpeak.




Kololo and the Honeycomb Glacier.




Kololo, Honeycomb, and Glacier Peak.




Can't get enough of the Suiattle River. What a unique view!




Geoff on the summit of Tenpeak.




Geoff enjoying a little sleepy time on the summit of Tenpeak.




Swirling mist dances around one of the Tenpeaks.




Looking back at our traverse.




Day 4


The plan for this day was to climb W Tenpeak then descend and hike back to the TH. When we awoke, however, Geoff wasn’t feeling well, and graciously agreed to descend to the Upper Basin and wait for me while I climbed W Tenpeak - thanks, Geoff. :up:


It took about an hour to gain the col just S of W Tenpeak, where I chased a family of goats up and out of sight. I stashed my overnight gear, and headed up with a rope, some slings, and some cams (just in case). The scrambling on lower W Tenpeak was very enjoyable, high alpine ridge climbing, with great views on both sides. Just as I got to where the ridge flattens out, the family of goats that I chased down low were now scurrying across seemingly impossible cliff bands to get away from me. They were pulling moves that rock jocks would envy!


Near the summit, the climbing gets wildly exposed, but the climbing is fairly easy (low fifth). The rock was coated with flaky lichen, so I was very careful to concentrate 100% on every move, and not worry about the exposure (which, admittedly, was getting to me a little bit being unroped and with so much lichen to make things feel insecure). Just below the summit, I placed a cam in a crack and clipped my personal to it and made the move above the cam with security and confidence.


The summit is a tiny perch with a stack of rocks for a summit cairn. There was a Fay Pullen register up there that was placed a few weeks ago when she, Matt, and Mtn Mike climbed it, and an old, rusty, empty tube. I added my name to the register and made my way back down, rappelling twice on the N Face.


The trip back down Thunder Basin was entertaining, and much trail-finding shenanigans ensued. The climber’s paths into these basins are works of art, but take much concentration to keep on them. If these trails weren’t here, getting into the basin would be an epic bushwhack. Despite there being a "trail" here, don't expect brush-free travel.


The mosquitoes on the way back to the TH were the absolute WORST I’VE EVER SEEN!! 100s of mosquitoes orbited and dive bombed me all the way back to the car. I wound up hiking in a head net and schoeller jacket (hot!!) just to avoid the little buggers. Bring Deet.


One of the finest areas in the range.



Trip Stats:


-14,000' gain

-25 miles




Morning views from camp below Tenpeak.




The White River Valley begins to heat up.




Daniel and Hinman rise above the cloud deck.




Looking back towards camp from my traverse to W Tenpeak.




W Tenpeak.




Glacier Peak as seen from the col between W Tenpeak and Tenpeak. This is one of the most amazing spots I've ever been to.




W Tenpeak threatens.




A little tarn on the way up to W Tenpeak.




Looking SW from the notch in W Tenpeak's S Ridge.




Enjoyable high ridge scrambling.




"Yes" Peak.




Looking up to the summit of W Tenpeak from the S Ridge.




Glacier Peak sits watch above the clouds.




Stunning views just below the summit of W Tenpeak.




The climbing route above me.




Lots of exposure here.




Peering through the cloud deck at a lake-tarn at the toe of the Honeycomb Glacier.




"" "".




I've seen a few of these around.




Tenpeak from the summit of W Tenpeak.




Looking down from the summit of W Tenpeak.




Upper Thunder Basin.




Geoff enjoying some high alpine roaming on the descent into Lower Thunder Basin.




The views on the descent.




Thunder Creek.




Brushy. The trail certainly helps.. if you can find it!




Meadows in Lower Thunder Basin.




Geoff headed for home.

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Tom your TR's are a blast to read and this one was no different.

I can't wait to get on a computer where I can see the pics!

I have always been fascinated by the Dakobed range and have spent much time daydreaming of going in there.

Now you have inspired me to make it happen. Thanks!


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Well...not much I could add to Tom's excellent narrative here. This trip had it all; voratious bugs, awesome bivys, killer sunsets, a rather long brush fest, an alpine rock finish, and stunning views in a absolutely gorgeous area. Great write up Tom; you did a fantastic job of capturing the trip. Thanks. I'll add a few photos.




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I cannot believe how much snow is around still!!! Thanks for the report Tom.

It going to be a rough year for the TB's. I think I should wax my snowboard back up!


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Great report! I've long wondered about this area. Does it seem feasible to continue the traverse westward, say all the way to White pass and then out the white river trail? Also, is it any easier travel to head along the north side from Clark -- connecting the Clark to Butterfly glaciers?

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Mad props for Dakobed Range! Thanks for the TR and photos, Tom! I have always wondered how heinous Thunder Creek would be. Sounds like a blast!


I must have been scrolling through the photos too fast, though, cuz I didn't see your middle finger in any of them!?

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Thanks, everyone.


@Ben.. I think for our purposes, the S side traverse was faster. The N side glaciers would definitely go, but there is more elevation loss and gain, and it is further that way. If you had skis, the glacier link-up would be a neat way to do it. I'm sure the Skoogs have done it.


Heading out via the N Fork of the Sauk would be a neat way to finish off the trip.

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Ever since I climbed Glacier years ago I have had a silent fascination with Tenpeak.

Thanks for giving a glimpse into that range.

Sounds like a dream of a trip.

Nice work gentlemen and stunning photos!

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