July 3-4, 2011: Black Peak

Tim and I started this a little later in the day. Tim and I also have an unwritten understanding that it is my job to provide the motivation. Usually this involves lying. First day was just for approach and it didn’t look too difficult from the maps and TR I had read. The several extra feet of snow on the ground, however, decided to teach us some humility and we dragged ourselves with what little life we had left in us to camp a half hour after sunset. Or rather, about one mile from camp, Tim decided we should turn back and it was on to the first lie. “Hey Tim, why don’t I take some weight out of your pack, we can go a little farther, and then if you still want to turn back we can do so.” I lied.


So I took the tent from his bag and strapped it onto mine. Now that I had both the car keys and tent, I left him behind and headed for high camp leaving him no choice. Tim rolled in about an hour after me to a pitched camp and tuna raman. We both went to bed far more sore and tired than we had expected.

On the way up we ran into some snow boarders on their way out and could see the marks from some nice looking runs they got to enjoy in the bowl above camp. The bowl is steep but short-lived and we were soon on the ridge heading skyward to our not-quite-9000’ summit. When we attempted it, the ridge was a mix of class 2 rock and class 2/3 snow. Nothing terribly scary, but we were happy to have ice-axes in hand.

The top of the ridge hits a cliff-face and this is where the fun begins. After looking for a decent route, I decided to go up a class-4 face on the left over several thousand feet of exposure. Knowing Tim wasn’t as comfortable on rock as I am, I started promoting the route to encourage his presence with me on the summit: “It’s not as bad as it looks.”, “The first move looks scary but once you’re on it, it won’t seem so hard.”, “The rock is really solid.” Upon reaching the top of the cliff, I noticed a cairn 10 meters away marking the entrance to an easy class-3 gully. I immediately call out, “Tim, I lied. That way was a nightmare. There’s an easy gully over here.”

A few minutes later we stood under a small class 3/4 scramble to a sub-summit and a fun exposed walk across a narrow ledge to the summit. Peak #20 on the 400p list, check.

Tim was still gassed from the approach and I was back down to the top of the bowl much quicker and had time for a nice afternoon nap. Funny how those with the energy get to nap, and those who need it get to play catch-up. The bowl was perfect for an out-of-control glissade being both steep and with a large run-out. On our way back to the pass above Ann Lake we were trailed for a mile or so by a quite smelly mountain goat. This being just a few weeks after a hiker was killed by a goat in the Olympics, I kept my distance.


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