Eric and I woke up early the morning after climbing the North Face of Vesper Peak. We had a little excitement during breakfast when a mouse managed to crawl onto Eric’s leg in hopes of getting a handout… and then a few minutes later in scurried onto his lap! It was still dark when we left our camp on the glassy bench along the scramble trail to Vesper Peak just above the basin drainage. Our plan was to traverse from the Vesper Scramble to the saddle of Sperry Peak to access the scramble route up Sperry. One can also access the route by going up the basin headwall on the far side of Vesper Lake directly to the saddle. However, that way was full of blocky talus and slabs and it was still dark. We toom the route we were more familiar with.

We cut off the Vesper Scramble route in the same place we had the previous day near a large carin about 1/3 o the way up. See photo of distinct rock. From here we traversed across the mountain two a hump on the ridge (we did have to cross a few snow field where an ice ax was needed). There are various trails here (game or human). Take one of these tracks and head up the hump until you are above the cliffs and can traverse across. From here descend on a faint trail to a more obvious trail on the saddle. There are great views of the basin and mostly frozen Vesper Lake below.

A clear trail leads up the steep slope to the upper bench of Sperry Peak. Eric and I used a fair amount fo foliage belays to haul ourselves up. The trail flattens as it crossly the grassy bench to a snowfield and the final push of steep climbing to the summit. A mountain goat greeted us here, but, unlike so many goats that beg for food, this on headed away.

We crossed the snowfield easily and followed the path of least resistant to the left of a big slabby block. Here we found a carin. There is a faint trail marked by carin, but it is easy too loose and it seems several trail intertwine and there is a fair amount of bushwhacking through dense pine trees. The is loose dirt in places and the use of tree belays become required.

We broke through the trees to a jumble of boulders. We scrambled from here (class 2-3) to the flat summit with several small trees. We had a wonderful view of the North Face of Vesper here as well as Glacier Peak, Morning Star and Big Four. Two men joined up at the top and we talked abut other mountains we had climbed before descending back to the saddle.

From the saddle there is a trail that goes off to the left side leading down to Vesper Lake. This more direct route was not as difficult to follow as expected. At the bottom we crossed a large snow field before the lake where to drains into the creek. Eric and I decided to partake in an Ice Lake Challenge (a variation of the currently famous Ice Bucket Challenge). We stripped down to our underwear and leaping into the partially frozen lake… and suddenly we both felt very very awake! Eric also invented a new form of trail running… it involves running across the snow barefoot in nothing but your underpants!

We returned to camp and prepared to head out. The descent down Headlee Pass made my toes hurt extravagantly. A random dark cloud spit of few intermietnet rain drops on us. In the heat they felt wonderful. With about 1.5 miles to go we paused to remove my shoes and take a break by a blueberry patch. Things were going well at first…

“Did you hear that?” Eric suddenly asked.

I listened hard. “No”

“I thought i heard thunder, but very far away. maybe it was just an airplane”.

We listened hard for the next three minutes… than I heard it too. A distant rumble. The the random grey cloud made sense. “Let’s get going.” I said.

As we put on our shoes a more distinct clap of thunder echoed over the basin… the very open basin. I would also like to point out that metal ice axes were attached to our packs. We scrambled  to our feet and booked to down the slope of the basin. Suddenly my throbbing toes felt fantastic! I don’t think I’ve very covered rocky, root laden trail so quickly. As I leaped over the stones and root having a personal dialogue with myself out load the humidity suddenly spiked. The thunder grew louder. I tried to figure out how far the storm was. I plunges into the forest after the creek crossing at the bottom. Eric was sweating bullets and getting a bit of heat exhaustion he told me later. I kept my pace for the final half mile and thrust my metal bearing pack into my car immediately upon reaching the trailhead. Eric followed in bad condition from the humidly ten minutes later. Not long afterwards the rain spilled from the sky and lightning flashed. I was glad to  not be on a summit.

 

 

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