This scramble was done Day 7 as part of PCT Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass backpacking trip.

We attempted Chikamin Peak in less than optimal weather. When we left Park Lakes Base Camp it was cold and drizzling. The ground was wet from the steady rain the previous night as well, but it didn’t matter to us. We ere going on an adventure! There are several variations of routes up Chikamin. We followed the PCT from Park Lakes to a obvious but unsigned trail on the right about .75 miles from the Mineral Creek Junction. From there we followed the path first up over a small hill and then very steeply 600ft down into a deep basin where Glacier Lake is tucked. A trail goes around the right side of the lake to a boulder slope. It is easy to reconize since thee is one massive slab boulder sticking out of it (it looks about ready to topple over). We found our way through the maze of giant, but very solid boulders (there is now a trail of carins created by Damien) to the top where it levels out in 200ft. There is a small pool there and a faint trail that follows the stream. If you don’t find the trail (we didn’t on the way in) simply follow the stream up to a small unnamed upper lake. There is a carin here on the slabs.

The rain was falling harder now and we sat on the slabs looking at what laud ahead. It looked up we might have to cross some slabby faces which would be fine in dry weather, but plain dangerous in the rain. I noticed that it appeared if one walked right along the slabs a small heather gully could be reached which would lead up the the upper talus gully we were aiming for. We decided to take a closer look at the situation to make sure.

We turned left at the small lake and walked up a broad heather slope to the base of the slabs on the left. We then turned right and followed the lower heather beside the slabs above a cliff. Then another left turn brought us into the mostly heather with some talus gully. As predicted this led us to the upper gulley. The slabs would have been much to dangerous. The upper gulley was easy to scramble through and the purple rock and gold conglomerate boulders awed us. We’d never seen anything like it before! We reached the end of the gully on top of a sub-ridge. The next higher ridge was what we were aiming for. We picked our way through steep dirt and rocks to the top of that ridge which was marked with carins and turned right to the base of the Chikamin Summit block.

This is what the definition of the word exposure is. The small gully to the higher rock of Chikamin has a run out of air. During the whole climb it seemed as though we should just go a little further even though things seemed to be getting progressively worse because they might get better. We decided that we were nearing our comfort level boundary and took caution as we stepped up the rock and dir steps of the gully to the solid rock above. We hoped the rock would be better…. but it wasn’t. To sum it up as Damien put it”The rock was wet, mossy, slippery and exposed”. We went up a few feet. Tried several ways of continuing before admitting defeat 50 ft from the summit. The conditions were bad, Damien and I did not have mountaineering boots and we had no helmets. We had no business going further on that mountain or probably as far as we’d already gone. We turned back.

The way down was much faster since we knew the way and we made it back to camp by 4:15pm. We did not feel at all disappointed. The slopes of Chikamin were so beautiful and different from anything we’d encountered. An the route finding was not straightforward or well marked. It had been a true alpine adventure.

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