Ascent of Sacajawea Peak on 2020-07-09

Climber: Chris Gilsdorf

Date:Thursday, July 9, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sacajawea Peak
    Elevation:9838 ft / 2998 m

Ascent Trip Report

Ascended from the Hurricane Creek TH on way too little sleep. Note that a Northwest Forest Service Pass is required at this busy trailhead, though fee envelopes are available. Not knowing this, my infinite thanks to the Eagle's View Inn and Suites who were able to procure me a pass late at night after a very frustrating and fruitless attempt to do so in La Grande. What a stupid, annoying, inconvenient system, especially for those coming from out of state! But I digress...

The river crossing was not as dicey as feared, and the trail on the far side of the creek was actually mostly pretty easy to follow. Once in the upper basin, I crossed to ascender's right of the creek when it felt right, and started heading uphill at the cairn a bit up the gravel slopes from the creek bed.

As of right now, the ridge to the top of Sacajawea has really just one area of unavoidable, sketchy snow, just below the false summit. It looks like several people went up and over the main ridge crest, but I found the least risky prospect a perhaps 50' traverse across moderate-angle snow with a bad runout. Seasoned PNW climbers would likely waltz across this with just trekking poles, but being a weenie on steep snow, I got out my ice axe and helmet. From here, I was able to get to the false summit and cross over to ascender's right of the ridge crest where dry ground and a climber's trail led to the top. Given the slowly building weather and some areas of snow on the ridge crest over to Matterhorn, I decided to live to die another day and did not attempt the traverse.

I descended via the red scree and talus slopes back into the basin (visible as the left slopes leading down from the Sacajawea summit while ascending the ridge), meeting some mildly outcroppy areas but nothing show-stopping. I got a bit of low-angle glissading in in the basin, got back on the path, and descended back to the car. Took roughly 5 hours up and 4 hours down.

Very pretty, unique area...I look forward to Eagle Cap and Red Mtn in the future, as well as Matterhorn...research will tell whether I must climb it, or simply might!
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