Not every climb is a story of great accomplishment or the excitement of a person's ability to achieve. I wish it could be that way, but alas, sometimes we must take what we are given. Black Peak has been on my list for quite some time but the only reason I chose to take it on this particular weekend was to wake the sleeping mountaineer inside me. I’m not sure if it is work stress, the changing weather or just a general disdain with life but the mountains seemed the perfect refuge to lift my spirits.
Though Black Peak is one of the peaks on the Bulger list it is on the easier side as far as technical difficulty. Starting from the lake Ann trail head near Rainy Pass the trail was quite busy at first despite the extreme cold of the day. The trail starts climbing immediately as it heads toward Heather Pass and does not let up. Most of this first section is just forested area but there are a few brief openings to enjoy spectacular views of the North Cascades. Once at Heather pass, the trail drops into a valley and you will be forced onto a boulder field. Lewis Lake lies just on the other side and you will get your first views of Black Peak itself. This section seemed slightly difficult though I would say that was largely due to the fact that the majority of it was half covered in snow. After Lewis is the 1000 ft climb up to Wing lake and the beginning of the climb.
With the mountain half covered in snow the climb up to the south ridge was fairly simple, though I did find several spots where I post holed up to knee level. The hardest part was actually attaining the ridge since the final 20 feet was icy and I nearly slid back down several times. After that the majority of the route was well cairned and lead easily to the summit. The climb is steep but doable by anyone who is fit and used to climbing above 7000 ft.
Looking Back Down Toward Wing Lake From Near The South Ridge
Waterboy With Mount Goode In The BackGround
My favorite part of the climb was the final ridge scramble. It is a small Knife’s edge that is around 100 feet long and has fair exposure on both sides. The other group that happened to be up there was using a fixed line they had rigged to get across it as some of the rock was iced over. Possibly out of stupidity, over confidence or, I hope, a full trust in my skills I scrambled around them rope-less and happy to finally reach the summit block.
Even on a cloudy day, the view was spectacular and, as I have experienced many times in the north cascades, it seemed to stun all my senses to the point where I couldn’t fully take it in. After reaching home and looking over my photos the accomplishment hit me. I would highly suggest this peak to anyone looking for what a basic Alpine climb can hold in store.
Climbing the peak definitely had the effect I was looking for. By the time I had watched the Seahawks win and gotten some good sleep I finally felt back to normal. The mountains really are a place that heals.
View From The True Summit
First View Along The Lower Trail
View Near Heather Pass
Snow At Heather Pass
Massive Icicles Along The Boulder Field Traverse
Panorama Looking East From The Climb Between Wing Lake and Lewis Lake