June 21-23, 2013

Clark Mountain (8602′)

——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–

Region: North-Central Cascades

Starting & Ending Point: White River Trailhead (White River Road)

Way Points: White River & Boulder Creek & Boulder Basin (hike)

Campsite: Boulder Basin 

Sidetrip: Boulder Pass & East Ridge Bench (hike & climb)

Summit: Clark Mountain (climb via Walrus Glacier—South Face) 

——————– Full Trip Report ——————–

Last weekend, I teamed up with Steve, Deb, Lisa, and Eileen for a climb of Clark Mountain in the DaKobed Range.  Fay joined us for the hike up to base camp, which served as her jumpoff point for climbing two peaks in the nearby White Mountains.

Day 1 – Trailhead to Boulder Basin:

We hiked 4 miles up the White River Trail and then turned right onto the Boulder Pass Trail.  Several miles up the latter trail, we had to wade across Boulder Creek (no bridge) just below the point where it splits into three shallow but frigid streams.  Along the way, we saw THREE porcupines over a stretch of 3 or 4 miles.  This was quite remarkable, since none of us could remember seeing a porcupine in the Cascades before.  One of the little critters was strolling up the trail in front of us and then scampered up a tree when we came within a few yards of his spikey rump.

Trailside Porcupine

Upon reaching snow-filled Boulder Basin (5.6 hours from trailhead), we made camp on a forested rib and enjoyed views of Clark Mountain’s craggy Southeast Peak and curving rampart.

Clark Mountain From Boulder Basin Camp

Day 2 – Summit Climb:

Leaving Fay in camp to entertain herself on uncharted summits to the southeast, the rest of us headed northeasterly to 6300-foot Boulder Pass.  We dropped down steep snow on the other side of the pass, then ascended to a 6700-foot bench on Clark’s eastern arm.  This bench provided a good place to rope up for the next leg of our trek.  We wrapped around the eastern arm and got our first view of the Walrus Glacier.

Descending From Boulder Pass

Although the Walrus Glacier is not the most common route on Clark Mountain, it is without a doubt the most scenic.  If fact, it may well be the most esthetic non-technical glacier climb in the eastern Cascades.  Interestingly, Beckey calls out the Walrus Glacier as being  We skirted the upper south face of the summit wedge on a steep snowfield and finished with a short scramble to the summit rocks (5.9 hours from camp).a relatively healthy specimen, having exhibited an advance of more than 1000 feet in the mid-20th Century—during a time when most glaciers receded noticeably.  This factoid prompted me to later dig out my old photos from a Walrus Glacier climb in June 1979.  A visual comparison of new and old photos (see below) reveals only a minor amount of recession over the past 34 years, which is good news for future generations of climbers.

Walrus Glacier In June 2013

Walrus Glacier In June 1979

We zigzagged our way up a moderately steep chute on the left (southern) margin of the glacier, stepping over several narrow crevasses and tiptoeing across a snowbridge over one large crevasse.  Once on the gentle upper part of the glacier, we wound our way toward the distant summit wedge.  Low clouds created annoyingly flat lighting conditions through here, but visibility was never too bad.  Our progress was slowed by 6 to 12 inches of soft, fresh snow.

Ascending Lower Walrus Glacier

Southeast Peak and Craggy Ridge

We skirted the upper south face of the summit wedge on a steep snowfield and finished with a short scramble to the summit rocks (5.9 hours from camp).

Clark Mountain Summit Rocks

Steve, Deb, and Lisa On Summit

The summit register contained numerous entries over a span of only 3 years—a testimony to the magnetic appeal of this grand landmark mountain.  We stayed for 45 minutes, watching the cloud ceiling repeatedly rise and fall.  Naturally, the weather didn’t completely clear until we had left the summit.

We slowly made our way back down the glacier, marveling at the interplay of clouds and sunlight on the soaring Southeast Peak and jagged ridge horns.  In such a spectacular setting, we savored our descent and didn’t reach Boulder Basin until nearly 8:00pm (5.6 hours from summit).  Fay was waiting for us in camp, happy to have tucked in her two objective peaks.

Descending Upper Snowfield

Souteast Peak and Upper Walrus Glacier

Mt David and Eileen

Up and Down Tracks On Summit Snowfield

Day 3 – Boulder Basin to Trailhead:

The forecast called for afternoon showers and possible thunderstorms, but we managed to get all the way to the trailhead before any drops fell.  However, the muggy weather was just right to hatch the first round of mosquitoes for this summer. Better pack insect repellent from now on.

Approximate Total Stats:  26 miles traveled;  7300 feet gained and lost.


——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–