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Ptarmigan Traverse summit choices?


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We're planning to hike the Ptarmigan Traverse over 6-7 days in August and climb to some summits along the way (N-S). We're definitely planning to climb Dome and thinking about Gunsight. What are some of the nicer summit routes along the main hiking route - 3rd to mid-5th class? Thanks for any suggestions.

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Gunsight is a bit out of the way for the typical Ptarmigan, as is Sinister. Formidable and Spider are somewhat dangerously loose but offer spectacular views. LeConte, Sentinel, Old Guard, Spire Point, and German Helmet are all pleasant and pretty easy. Dome is probably the best of the main peaks along the traverse and well worth a visit. If you can leave a whole day for Dome, it is an amazing spot to sit and soak in the views for hours.


Enjoy the trip, it is probably the best (most enjoyable) of the long Cascades traverses I've done. Of course, that was back when you could drive on the Suiattle Rd.

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In 1985, I hiked the Ptarmigan Traverse with my wife Steph and our friend Tom Wiesmann. In seven days we climbed the standard routes on Hurry-up, Spider, Formidable, Le Conte, Sentinel, Old Guard, Spire Point, Dome Pk, Gunsight, and Sinister. At that time the Bachelor-Downey Creek trails were in pretty good shape and you could drive all the way to Downey Creek.


Other climbs you might consider include Magic, Mixup and some of the smaller summits in the Dome Peak area. Of these, I would probably avoid Mixup. It has a bad history. Tom Wismann died on that peak two years after our traverse.


All these climbs are in the difficulty range that you're looking for. Our trip was done in early July, which probably made some of the peaks easier by covering some of the loose rock. It remains one of my most memorable trips, for a lot of reasons.


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You will have to move fast to bag all the peaks that Lowell listed on his 1985 traverse. That is quite the 7 day tick list! Having spent a couple weeks on two separate trips in this area, I'm very impressed- I still have a few of those peaks left!


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I can't remember any more where I found this, but I pulled this off an internet site a few years ago:


Day 1: From Seattle to a camp in Sulphur Creek valley.

Day 2: Climbed to shoulder below SW peak of Dome Pk.

Day 3: Traversed both peaks of Dome, walked to Spire Point and climbed it, returned to camp.

Day 4: Moved camp to head of South Cascade Glacier.

Day 5: Climbed Sentinel, Old Guard and Le Conte, moved camp to Yang Yang lakes.

Day 6: Rest day.

Day 7: Climbed Formidable, Spider and Magic, probably camped at Koolaid Lake.

Day 8: Traversed to Cascade Pass, climbed Johannesburg, bivied on descent.

Day 9: Returned to camp and rested.

Day 10: Climbed Sahale, Boston and north face of Buckner.

Day 11: Hiked down Stehekin River to Bridge Creek.

Day 12: Hiked up Agnes Creek toward Suiattle Pass.

Day 13: Hiked over Suiattle Pass and out Suiattle River back to Sulpur Creek.


If memory serves, six of those twelve peaks were FAs. Hard men indeed.

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The Ptarmigans and their P trips, by Harvey Manning. Their Picket/Chilliwack trip was also rather impressive.


Interesting that more than 70 years later, the Ptarmigan Traverse as per original party is very likely un-repeated.


I like to go out to the the middle from Cascade Pass, and then return the same way. Avoids the car shuttle and you get to spend the whole time up high. The Dome area is great and worth it's own trip as well.


However you do it, enjoy!

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