June 6-8, 2014

Colonial Peak (7771’)
Paul Bunyan’s Stump (7480’+)

——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–

Region: Northwestern Cascades

Starting & Ending Point: Pyramid Lake Trailhead (Highway 20)

Way Points: Pyramid Creek & Pyramid Lake & Lower Pyramid Ridge & Knoll 4555 (hike & snow climb)

Campsite: Knoll 4555

Sidetrip: Upper Pyramid Ridge & Colonial Creek Cirque & Colonial Glacier  (climb)

Summit: Colonial Peak (climb via Northwest Slope—West Ridge)

Sidetrip: Upper Colonial Glacier & West Colonial Saddle  (climb)

Summit: Paul Bunyan’s Stump (climb via South Slope—West Face)

Approximate Total Stats: 12miles traveled; 9100 feet gained and lost.

——————– Full Trip Report ——————–

Day 1 – Trailhead to Knoll 4555 Camp:

After working Friday morning, Eileen and I left town at noon and headed for the Pyramid Lake Trailhead on Hwy 20. We hiked past the lake and continued up Pyramid Ridge on a well-trodden climber’s path.  Knoll 4555 provided us with a fine campsite (4.6 hours from TH) for the next two nights.

This was the quasi-annual outing for my venerable 1978 Omnipotent. I pitched the tent with her front doorway squared up to Colonial Peak’s amazing north face. Now in her golden years, she has gotten mighty particular about her campsites, but I think we did her proud here.

Evening View From Knoll 4555 Camp

Day 2 – Summit Climbs:

Morning sun brought a soft glow to Davis Peak, Colonial Peak, and other nearby mountains. We were expecting a long, warm, sunny day for climbing, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Davis Peak From Knoll 4555 Camp
Morning View From Knoll 4555 Camp

We headed up Pyramid Ridge, generally following the crestline over a series of cliff bands and snowy benches. Our route-finding was a bit off in places, so this part of the trip took longer than it should have to reach the ridge’s terminus below Pyramid Peak. Somewhere around mid-morning, we left the ridge and traversed steep snow over to the Colonial Glacier.

Traversing From Pyramid Ridge To Colonial Glacier

From the glacier gap, we booted up pleasantly firm snowslopes toward Colonial Peak. A strong, frigid, northerly wind accompanied us all the way up the mountain—and stayed with us the entire rest of the day.

Heading Toward Colonial Peak
Climbing Above Colonial Glacier

Paul Bunyan’s Stump, Pinnacle Peak, and Pyramid Peak enticed us from across the glacial cirque. We hoped to climb at least one of these alpine crags today.

Paul Bunyan’s Stump, Pinnacle Peak, and Pyramid Peak

Somewhat inadvertently, we first topped out on Colonial Peak’s slightly lower southwest summit before traversing over to the northeast (true) summit. All of our little route-finding errors throughout the day had added up to a much longer ascent than expected (7.7 hours from camp). However, this didn’t prevent us from enjoying the incredible summit views.

Eileen On Colonial Peak Summit
Snowfield Peak and Neve Glacier From Colonial Peak
Northern View From Colonial Peak

We left Colonial Peak at 3:00pm and descended to the glacial cirque, then headed up to the snow saddle at the southern base of Paul Bunyan’s Stump. Easy heather, talus, and scree led us up toward the towering summit rocks. We hoped that there was a reasonably simple route through the steepness ahead. Did I mention that I’d lost my maps and route beta on the Colonial Glacier?

Scrambling Toward Paul Bunyans Stump

Naturally, a dense fog closed in on us just as we reached the start of the steep and serious scrambling. I had doubts about navigating in this fog, but Eileen switched over to I.F.R. mode and managed to find a way to the narrow summit ridge. We roped up for one short but severely exposed Class 3 rock pitch to the summit.

Eileen Belaying On Summit Ridge Of Paul Bunyan’s Stump

It was 6:25pm when we topped out. This was distressingly late, even by our time-distorted standards! Clearly, we had a headlamp descent in our immediate future. On a positive note, the fog started to thin as we descended, creating some remarkable visual effects.

Foggy View From Paul Bunyan’s Stump Summit

We dropped to the glacier and retraced our traverse route over to Pyramid Ridge, then headed down. A four-tent camp had been cut into the lee of the ridge, but there was no sign of activity as we passed by. Their early bedtime and well-coiled ropes hanging on well-positioned ice axes indicated a regimented climbing group.

Our remaining descent was dark but mostly uneventful, except for one rappel over a rock face and deep moat that swallowed one of my trekking poles. We stumbled into camp at 11:40pm to round out a memorable 15.6-hour day.

Day 3 – Knoll 4555 Camp to Trailhead:

We broke camp and hiked out, reaching the car shortly before noon (3.8 hours from camp).


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