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Ascent of Chokwich Peak on 2015-07-04

Climber: Fred Beavon

Date:Saturday, July 4, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Chokwich Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:5662 ft / 1725 m

Ascent Trip Report

Dave Fish, author of Rambling and Scrambling Around the Mountain Loop Highway says, "The 1977 book, Monte Cristo Area: A Complete Outdoor Guide, by Majors and McCollum, calls this summit, Flat-top. Chocwich Creek is totally across the valley from this peak. Why name a peak for a creek that isn't even on it's slopes? So I have always referred to Peak 5662 as Flat-top and that leaves the name Chocwich open for Peak 5740 at the headwaters of Chocwich Creek." From http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=815942, scrolled way down.

"The first ascent party of Ted Carpenter and company, within 1965-68, called the peak Flat-top", according to the Monte Cristo Area book. It's my preferred name, too.

Irregardless of the above, it was a grand adventure. Nine hours of extreme exercise with just a half hour break on the summit. It reached 92 degrees in Seattle this day and it was warm and sunny here, as well, but it didn't seem to affect me as much as I thought it might. On the way up, I had many doubts of making a successful ascent. The first was when leaving the Perry Creek Trail, where the trail crosses the creek. There was "impenetrable" brush here, but I found a good route through it, continuing on up on the dry creek bed.

When in the wide open basin area, surrounded by steep head-walls, a most scenic spot, I had more doubts. Which way up? Every way looked possibly ugly, so I went straight ahead, without the benefit of a GPS, in the direction I thought would be quickest. I ended up in a most hazardous, cliffy, exposed gully, but it saved a lot of time and I had zero brush. No way could I down climb it though, without great risk.

Upon reaching a small notch in the ridge, I had more doubts. Cliffs were everywhere, and I wasn't sure where the summit was located. Where I was, was a dead end, though, so I descended and rounded a peak to its south side, but there were more cliffs everywhere. I did know some ridge led over to the peak. Then I had my aha moment. The exposed ridge way down below was the route to Chokwich Peak. But I saw no immediate way to get to it. Starting up the peak I had rounded led to a sketchy route to the "ridge". It certainly wasn't level. It was most down-sloping. With drop offs on either side, it was important to be most careful crossing it and on either side of it, but it was the highlight of the trip. A steep ascent on the other side led to the top, a cairn and a register to this seldom done summit.

On the return, I went up the peak I had rounded, Point 5480'+. Perhaps in the future, some parties might ascend it and give up when seeing the continuing route to Flat-top's summit.

Avoiding the cliffy gully used on the ascent, I trended downhill to the northwest to what appeared to be easier terrain, but still got cliffed out multiple times in heavy brush and had to backtrack. A cliffy gully I did use was done with vegetation belays. Then, when I thought I was free and clear, more cliffy gullies appeared. So, using more belays with bushes, making sure none of them would break off in my hands, I slowly lowered myself once again. Still, it was mucho fun, but surely there is a better route down than the one I ended up on. It's the luck of the draw whether one finds it or not, though. And I would say the odds are highly likely cliffs will be encountered on any choice.

Some yummy berries are encountered on the trail. It'd been over 37 years since I'd been on the Perry Creek Trail and it felt good to be back.
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