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[TR] Mt. Cruiser - South Corner 6/14/2013


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Trip: Mt. Cruiser - South Corner


Date: 6/14/2013




Trip Report:


Talk about a fun and rewarding trip! The approach and summit of Mt. Cruiser (highest peak on the Sawtooth ridge, Skokomish-Duckabush group) was enjoyable and adventure filled, with entertaining scrambling on snow and rock, easy but exposed class 5.0 climbing, topped off with a swim in Flapjack Lakes.


Useful Information


  • The trail to Flapjack Lakes is roughly 8 miles with about a 3800 ft gain.
  • The trail from Flapjack Lakes to Gladys Divide is a little over a mile with about a 1100 ft gain.
  • The snow level is above the lakes at about 4400 ft.
  • Needle pass is easy to identify and is filled with snow.
  • The moat is large enough to traverse along the rock.
  • Don't bother bringing two ropes. A 60m rope was sufficient for the climb and rappel of the South Corner.
  • First Pitch: From the starting ledge up, there are a few jugs that you can sling a 30cm runner around for some scant protection. There is a shady bolt near the arete you could use. There is also pair of rock solid bolts at the top of the first pitch next to a ledge with room for two people to stand comfortably. This is about 60-70 ft (~20m) up from the starting ledge.
  • Second "Pitch:" From the belay ledge, it's an exposed scramble along the ridge to the summit. We used opposing slings held taught with biners as back up pro for a couple of well spaced but mediocre 1/4" bolts found along the summit ridge. We gathered at the second and last ridge bolt and took turns walking the last 20 feet to the top, belayed.
  • Bring your rock shoes.
  • There was no need for pickets
  • Here is a simple but useful route description with additional route photosSummit Post


The Story


After a busy Friday morning at work, Doc and I finally reached the Staircase trailhead around 5 pm. The trail to Flapjacks begins at around 800 ft elevation and runs parallel to the North Fork of the Skokomish River...starting off as a sunny, pleasant and gorgeous riverside walk on an old road and then narrowing amongst large diameter cedars, firs, maples, pines, trilliums, huckleberry, and an assortment of other Olympic trees, shrubs, and herbs. About 4 miles into the backcountry, the trail turns east up the hill for a stint, then traverses the mountainside until it reaches Madeline Creek at about 2100 ft. From here, it contours slightly uphill around a finger ridge until it meets Donahue creek near the Flapjack Lakes-Black and White Lakes junction at 3400 ft. Both are picturesque creeks loaded with large woody debris and cascading falls. I was glad to have my camera. A final short push up to 3880 ft put us at the foot of the lakes, just in time to catch a clear golden sunset against the Sawtooth Ridge above us and in the still reflection below. We were pretty happy campers sitting between the two Flapjacks looking at the pillow basalt above the tree line, but the sight of Mt. Lincoln and other Sawtooth spires in that warm evening glow truly lifted our sprits. We selected a flat waterfront camp bed against some lichen encrusted boulders, where we sat and ate a well earned meal accompanied by a lake chilled IPA. The night was clear and bright, illuminated by a waxing crescent moon. I, at least, was well asleep before the moon consented to the emergence of what I imagine was a blanket of stars.


Saturday morning surprisingly warm. We set off early for Gladys Divide, well caffeinated and eager to see some rock. It was steady going up from the lakes to the divide. Upon arrival, we decided to have a look around before heading up Needle Pass and were rewarded with amazing views of Mt. Henderson and Skokomish to the northeast amongst other little lakes, minor peaks, and valleys. I decided then that this area is a new favorite and promised myself to return soon.


Needle pass was easily identifiable and we made our way up to the ridge crest between the Castle Spires and Beta. On the summit of Beta we basked in views all around: Olympus, Anderson, the Flapjacks, Sawtooth, Mt. Gladys, etc. This was an excellent scramble, with lots of interesting rock features and easy route finding. We reached the col between Beta and Cruiser and descended into the moat for an interesting mixed snow/rock traverse to the short scramble up to the base of the chockstone.


We opted for the fun crawl through cannon hole to reach the top of the chockstone then walked right to the ledge where the climb starts. The climb itself is easy 5.0 but locations for protection were sparse (and weak at best) and a fall would have been disastrous (also at best!). We were glad to reach the solid pair of bolts at the belay ledge. From here it was a simple scramble to the summit. We used opposing slings held taught with biners as back up pro for a couple of well spaced but mediocre 1/4" bolts found along the summit ridge. We gathered at the second and last ridge bolt and took turns walking the last 20 feet to the top, belayed. We returned to the belay ledge and rappelled back down the way we came.




Flapjack Lakes



Sawtooth Ridge. Probably looking at the Cleaver, Slab Tower and Rectagon



Sawtooth Ridge, including the Fin, the Horn, etc.



Up at Gladys Divide and view of Needle Pass (the snowy gully in the top right of the frame)



View NE of Mount Henderson from Gladys Divide



Surly Olympic pillow basalt





Headed up Needle Pass (shot of the Needle)



Castle Spires and Flapjack Lakes



Mount Olympus



Some moat action (this one was taken on the return trip)



Scramble from the moat up to the chockstone (we scrambled up rope free and then set a fixed line for the descent)



Looking up at the chockstone. The scramble through the cannon hole is to the left of it and an easy climb to the right.



Gleaming the cannon hole



Mt. Cruiser. The photo shows our route (in blue) from the moat, up the left side of the chockstone, a walk to the right to a ledge where the climb starts (pink rectangle). The red dots indicate where where are some sketchy bolts and the green dot is the location of the solid pair of bolts and belay ledge. From the belay ledge to the start of the climb is about 70ft).



Summit ridge scramble, photo shows the opposing slings backing up the bolt.



View of Mildred Lakes, Jefferson Peak, Mt. Pershing, Mt. Washington, Mt. Ellinor



Mildred Lakes "snow flakes"



Rapelling down the south east face of Cruiser back to the ledge we started on. Copper Mountain in the background.



Gear Notes:

[*]Ice axe

[*]One 60m rope

[*]Four 30cm runners

[*]Four 60cm runners

[*]Set of nuts

[*]Rappel rings (a fat Omega Pacific) and webbing (I left the only red piece on the double bolts and on another piece on a tree for a rappel down to the Beta-Castle Spires col; both are labeled DP. They are essentially brand new, should be good for a while)

Edited by dpforestry
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