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mhmeyers

[TR] Mount Cruiser - South Corner 5/23/2015

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Trip: Mount Cruiser - South Corner

 

Date: 5/23/2015

 

Trip Report:

This was my first climb in the Olympics. This is also my first trip report so feedback and suggestions are greatly welcomed! We did this route on Memorial Weekend. We ran into a lot of people at first, but the further we hiked, the less people we saw.

 

Car to car, it is almost 20 miles with a total of 5,400 feet of gain (including Needle Pass and the climbing). We hiked 7.5 miles and gained roughly 2,500 feet to where we stayed and camped at Donahue Creek since Flapjack Lakes (8.0 miles, 3,000 feet) was full and we didn't have reservations. The first four miles in essentially flat, so the next four miles is where you get most of the gain but is still a pleasant hike.

 

Flapjack Lakes

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The next morning we hiked towards Glady's Divide and it was really cloudy and foggy. About 1.5 miles later (1,000 ft gain), we looked around a bit more and the clouds cleared enough for us to spot Needle Pass (otherwise it would be very easy to miss). There is a large boulder on the right side of the trail that is at the bottom of Needle Pass. We made our way across the talus and scree and worked our way up to the snow field which was very small. We tossed on our crampons and grabbed our ice axes and went up Needle Pass (pretty steep and slightly icy).

 

Needle Pass as seen from the trail.

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Upper portion of Needle Pass where crampons and an ice axe is helpful.

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After ditching the crampons, we scrambled up some third/fourth class to the top of the ridge, followed the ridge towards Mount Cruiser, squeezed through some rocks, a small catwalk, and then down a big gully to get to the base of the climb.

 

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Mount Cruiser in the clouds.

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The climbing was super easy but very exposed towards the top. Very little gear placements. Three rappels with a 60m rope brought us back down the chimney/gulley where we left our packs. The descent was just as easy as coming in but there is an optional rappel close to Needle Pass (I recommend doing it because it's a little steeper in that section). **I had a little trouble getting down the snow field since it was only my second time encountering snow on an alpine route - I'm learning!** Make it back down the talus carefully towards the big boulder and you're back on the trail.

 

View from the summit.

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Sawtooth Ridge from the trail.

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Overall a great trip and would highly recommend. Good place to learn a little about snow travel as well if you're training for other peaks :) Thanks for reading!

 

Gear Notes:

#3 BD cam (anchor on summit)

*few small cams (yellow and red alien)

*slings (4x2"4 and 2x48" worked great)

*small nuts (we found a few placements)

*ice axe and crampons

*60m rope (or 70m)

 

Approach Notes:

Very easy hiking the first 4 miles. Next four miles is a decent amount of gain. After Flapjack Lakes it is a steady incline towards Glady's Divide. There are a few streams that you could refill your water at if you wanted to go light. Make sure to keep an eye out for big boulders and a talus field to your right which will signify Needle Pass.

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Went up this yesterday, it was actually very fun. Didn't need crampons and you won't need an axe in another week or two as the snow is melting fast. There was only 100' of mandatory snow and it was nice and soft when I got there around noon.

 

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