Friday, August 11, 2017

Gothic Peak (7/29/17)

Brad's been trying for years to get me to backpack and climb at Foggy Lake, east of Everett, Wash. Plans finally came together this summer for a long weekend trip.

We left Tigard Friday morning and drove north to Everett on I-5 and then turned right through Lake Stevens, Granite Falls, Verlot and Silverton. We parked at the Barlow Pass trailhead at 2,361 feet in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  
After tanking up on Subway, we donned our packs and started up the Weeden Creek Trail to Gothic Basin.
The trail was very steep in places, gaining about 3,000 feet in about 5 miles. The first mile is actually downhill on an old road before the above split ^^^. Add in an overnight pack and the heat of a summer afternoon and it was a tough approach.

Shade and amazing views helped keep us going:

The trail was not just steep but also rugged, making for a slow trip. Still, biting flies motivated us to keep moving!

We finally reached Gothic Basin and then scrambled up and to the right to reach Foggy Lake.

We chose a beautiful "campsite" on the rocky edge of the lake.
A great reward for a long day:
We packed for a four-day trip, planning to climb Gothic Peak Saturday, Del Campo Peak Sunday and then hike out Monday.

We woke Saturday morning to this view of Gothic Peak (the highest hump on the ridge) over the still-frozen Foggy Lake:
Del Campo was just to the right of the saddle:
Our tent among the rocks:
The trip reports guiding our climbing were from early season when the slopes were still snow-covered. When there's snow, you just pick a line and head straight up. It's not so easy after it melts out. We decided to head up the snow patch on the left (pictured, below) and then make our way up the ridge to the right. (Gothic is just to the right of this picture)

But before we climb: breakfast! We brought a bunch of homemade food and ate really well!
With the sun finally hitting our camp, it was time to climb.
On the ascent, we decided to pass a snowfield by walking in the large moat (the void where the snow melts away from the warm rocks). It was sketchier than it looked from above, and we decided to descend on the above rock slab instead. Good decision - it was very solid rock.

Inside the moat:
We'd been climbing with a couple guys from Seattle until the snowfields. They decided to head back, and we were alone for the of the ascent.

Soon, we were at the bottom of the summit block. It looked intimidating, but we spotted a couple kairns (rocks stacked to mark the trail) and knew we were on route. We scrambled the near-vertical section and were quickly on top.

Rainier to the south:
Foggy Lake 1,000 feet below at 5,223':
Gothic Peak summit: 6,213'

Del Campo across the lake:
We also weren't certain of the Del Campo route, but we were able to see from this angle the hidden gully to the right of the summit.

Playing with my new camera: (click to see it bigger!)

Vertical panoramic:
We were alone on the summit, and the weather was so mild that we hung out for a while soaking in the view.
This is the third-class summit block from the bottom. The American Safe Climbing Association defines third-class rock as: "steep scrambling with exposure, ropes are needed for inexperienced people. An unroped fall on 3rd-class terrain would likely be fatal."

It was not as bad as it looked, but there was definitely a lot of exposure, and I was happy to have some rock-climbing skills and confidence in my tool belt. We decided it was not a route for beginners.

After descending the summit block and skirting the snowfields, the rest of the trip to the lake was straightforward and relatively easy.

Gear: We both used trekking poles, ice axes and climbing helmets. We carried crampons but did not need them in the soft snow.

Up next: Del Campo :)

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