Black Peak- NE Ridge

July 27th, 2003

Emily and I left the Rainy Pass picnic area at 7am and began our approach on the already muggy Sunday morning. We reached Heather Pass quickly and soon dropped into the talus cirque that would lead us to Lewis Lake. In an attempt to traverse to the lake rather than loose elevation we hopped right onto the boulder field. We later learned that by continuing down along the trail, there is a path through the talus that makes the traverse quite a bit easier.

Emily at Heather Pass.

The NE Ridge is the right hand skyline.

Looking down at a partially frozen Wing Lake.

We hiked up the snow from Wing Lake to where it steepens and ends into rubbely 3rd and 4th class rock. A bit of scrambling with a fair amount of loose rock lead to the ridge crest at the base of the ridge. There was some light wind at the pass so we were able to take our first real break of the day. The breeze discouraged the mosquitos, but the more robust horseflies were still buzzing all over us.

After the scramble we met up with another team who was just starting off on the ridge. We ate lunch and waiting for them to get a bit ahead. We began with a climb of a short step then coiled the rope for a walk around the first tower, which lead to a rubbly gully off to the right. At this point, we met the other team again as they were backtracking down the gully saying that it was too loose and licheny and not correct. To our left were a couple of benches that lead over to a steep gully formation, so Em and I went ahead and traversed the bench into the steep draw. Blocky low 5th lead up and right to under the middle of a wide tower that starts the ridge. From here we skirted left on moderate ground to a notch just past the tower... and the crest was ours! Gaining the crest soon was key, as most of the major looseness is left behind once on the actual ridge.

Emily on the ridge.

Emily higher up on the ridge.

The climbing along the ridge was superb. Like an airy catwalk, we running belayed through the entire solid and blocky climb. There was some looseness here and there, but it was all generally pretty solid rock with good pro. The difficulty never exceeded 5.4 or so, and was usually only that difficult for a move or two. Up high on the ridge there is a steeper tower that looks like it can be easily bypassed on the left or right, but we chose to climb strait up the middle for a nice short 5.5-6 pitch. Above this the angle of the ridge eases off, and its a short scramble up to the summit.

On the summit with Mt. Goode in the background.

Just minutes after we arrived the team behind us, two Biologists from Mt. Vernon, reached the top as well. We ate lunch and took in the spectacular vantage that the summit of Black gives. Everything from the Pickets to the Forbidden group to Glacier Peak and Sloan were visible.

The descent was a typical Cascades grovel. After a little more ridge line down from the summit, we followed foot paths down through the rubbely gullies. It reminded me of Fisher Peak's descent gullies, but luckily these were low angled enough to arrest falling rocks quickly. Soon we were at the col above the East slope, and we foot glissaded on down to the lake.

Our friends "the swarm of mosquitos" met us at the edge of the snow, and accompanied us all the way back to the car.. a long, hot, and painful journey. Thanks goes to those bugs for keeping us on track and break free all the way back! (Though Emily counted 34 bites on one elbow alone). We arrived back at the car 13 hours after we'd left it. Craving a real dinner, we raced the clock back to Marblemount, arriving just after 9pm. A quick survey of open restaurants surprised us: Good Food and The Buffalo Run were open, while my favorite, The Eatery, was closed. In fact, Buffalo Run is open everyday until 10pm! Unfortunately, I've never had a fine dining experience there, and this night would be no exception. All the food is grossly overpriced, and I wasn't feeling like a signature Buffalo Burger, so I ordered the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich ($9) and Emily got the Pasta Primavera ($15!). She was incredibly excited to receive her "freshly cut vegetables tossed in a rich alfredo sauce over linguini", but it's arrival brought disappointment: An assortment of crinkle cut carrots (ever seen a crinkle knife in a kitchen?), those slimy brown mushrooms that seem to appear in everything, and 2 slices of bitter zucchini. Her dismay was inturupted when she hear me laugh at the sight of my "dinner". On my plate was the smallest little Pilly Steak sandwich I'd ever seen. In fact it was served on a toasted hot dog bun that was cut in half and pinned with toothpicks.. perhaps to give it a big sandwich feel? Who knows. At least the fries were good. The nachos look like a good deal though, a huge pile of 'em for only $7.

[Return to Home Page]