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[TR] Dark Peak - Dark Meat with Veggie Floss 5/31/2016

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Trip: Dark Peak - Dark Meat with Veggie Floss


Date: 5/31/2016


Trip Report:


Oh, the places you'll go... when you are ticking Bulgers. Ted Geisel himself could not have invented such a strange and fabulous landschaft replete with alien fauna and flora, including the dread prickly vines of doom in a green hell maelstrom. Ok, it was not actually bad. It was enjoyable, classic, type 2 Cascade fun. And the views... mountain p0rn worthy of hand lotion and a few kleenex. But, I digress...


The plan was to tag Dark Peak over Memorial Day Weekend proper. However, suboptimal weekend forecasts followed by a perfect high-pressure system soon thereafter prompted a change in plans, warranting vacation days from work, sick time, or whatever it took to GIFD. And it was worth it.


Somehow I convinced four friends to join me. Some have climbed with me before, and should know better. None admit to seeking the full century of summits, but I am dubious as to their claims. De Nile is more than a river in Aegypt, so they say.


I've never been to Holden, Lucerne or Stehekin. Never ridden either "lady" of the lake. So, this trip was novel and a bit of an adventure.


Enough of the ramblings and banterings. Here's the trip in captioned pictures, which are worth a thousand words apiece, if not more. Need a route description - it's on Summit Post.


Ride the lady. Enjoy her frothy wake:



Take a bus to High Bridge, then walk the PCT ~9 miles to Swamp Creek Camp: P1010688.JPG


Start on the PCT. Gawd, it's gorgeous!



The abandoned Swamp Creek Trail is hard to follow in places (especially upon descent in the dark). Here's a bit of it close to camp just after dawn:



It was easy to find a log across Swamp Creek. We found this one at the base of a boulder field at 3600' with a beautifully engineered cairn in a talus field to demarcate the spot:



Our perambulations took us through much of this open forest terrain:



The lower basin of Dark could be construed as a stairway to heaven, and the slide alder as either purgatory or hell. YMMV:



Typical section of slide alder hell with an interleaving, gurgling rivulet. It's all fun and games till you lose an eye, or get an uninvited testicular scrape or probing anal intruder:



We hit a lot of snow patches. They helped a lot, and saved us time:



Shangri La. Yes, really. When I'm on my death bed, I'd love to be transported to this spot to expire with this view. Then a cougar could eat me and crap me out, and my digested remains could fertilize some slide alder - circle of life and all that:



View of the snow and glacier route from the upper basin (5000'):



We roped up for shits and giggles around 5500'. Well, it was either drag the ropes, continue to haul them, or dump them. The glacier was pretty damn mellow in late spring conditions, truth be told:





Approaching the col at 8200'. We hit two slopes with semi-sketchy snow conditions and modified our route accordingly. We considered bailing, but pushed on:



At the col. Be here or at work? Easy choice:



View along summit ridge:



Mountain p0rn pano: Bonanza and more:





Gear Notes:

Ice axe, crampons (see below), helmet, rope if you want


Approach Notes:

PCT: needs some TLC.

Swamp Creek Trail: needs a machete and Roundup.

Lower Basin to Upper: don't fall

Upper Basin to Summit: evaluate snow conditions. 'Pons useful, but may not be required - YMMV

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