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2014 Backcountry Trip Reports => May 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: TonyM on 05/09/14, 01:30 PM

Title: May 2, 2014, Dark Peak, First Ski Descent
Post by: TonyM on 05/09/14, 01:30 PM
Scott Kindred and I skied Dark Peak from the Holden Village approach.  This was my third attempt at climbing Dark Peak (first attempt was a non-ski trip from the Swamp Creek approach), and Scott’s second ski attempt.  We came close 2 years ago but weather stopped us approximately 800 vertical feet from the top.  I swore then that I’d never come back, but time heals all wounds.  This trip was particularly committing as I live in Colorado and we had to grab the opportunity when clear weather presented itself.

There are a lot of ups and downs on this route.  First up from Holden Village to Holden Pass (camped here).  Then down the north col separating Bonanza and Martin Peaks to the upper reaches of the Sable Creek drainage.  Then up a steep hill to gain the ridge that separates the Sable and Company Creek drainages.  Steep and varied skiing down appx. 2300 feet down the base of the Company Glacier.  This is a wild place that likely sees very little human activity (no hiking trails lead to the drainage). 

Then appx 2200 or so VF up to the ridge that separates Dark Peak and Mount Lyall.  The skin up was varied and in places, steep.  Veering left at near the top of the drainage, we gained the drop in point on to Dark Glacier.  Last time we needed to rappel off the ridge, but this time, we side stepped down a few feet and then skied onto the glacier.   More wildness!

Once on Dark Glacier, the route is fairly straightforward but still tricky in terms of winding thru to the path of least resistance.  There was plenty of snow coverage, so we didn’t rope up here. 

Once off the glacier, we gained the final gentle slopes to the summit…  the summit ridge narrows with a very steep drop to the Company Glacier on the right / south, and a gentle snowfield leading to a 300 foot dead vertical rock face on the left / north.  So we stayed on the ridge and played it safe to the summit.   

We skied down in mostly mush that only got worse as we lost elevation.  Being up there on skis seemed more important than the actual quality of skiing, and we skied down with a sense of accomplishment, and for me, a sense of awe. 

Information on Dark Peak was limited to one TR on Summit Post, and that climb originated out of Stehekin up the Swamp Creek Drainage.  And while I can’t be 100% sure, it appears Dark had not been skied before.  If it had been skied, hats off to the team(s) that made the grueling round trip.  It was a long day filled with easy navigation, but in a wild, remote, and beautiful setting.

Scott-  thank you again for going, and congratulations on number 66!  This trip wouldn’t have happened without you.

Title: Re: May 2, 2014, Dark Peak
Post by: TonyM on 05/09/14, 01:56 PM
Map of route...  Dark Peak is located behind Bonanza Peak and guarded by long approaches from any side with no real trail system to the base of the peak.  There is a trace trail up the Swamp Creek drainage, kind of, but it ends in a maze of slide alder / vine maple.  Then there's a 4th class tree climb to gain the glacier. 

So we concocted this other route after reading Jason and Forest's Bonanza Peak TR (actually, saw the Company creek photo's).

It's not exactly guarded like Nanda Devi, but it sure felt like it was difficult to get to!

Title: Re: May 2, 2014, Dark Peak
Post by: Zap on 05/09/14, 02:33 PM
Great TR and photos plus the Map Route.  ;)

Title: Re: May 2, 2014, Dark Peak
Post by: ND on 05/09/14, 02:59 PM
Crazy Bulgers!  Skiing seems like a great idea to nab the less traveled.

Title: Re: May 2, 2014, Dark Peak
Post by: Charlie Hagedorn on 05/09/14, 05:37 PM
Congratulations! One fewer first remains. :).

Title: Re: May 2, 2014, Dark Peak
Post by: TonyM on 04/16/15, 10:03 PM
Looking back, I'm guessing it'll be a while before this one is repeated.  Unless sking some of the other nearby un-skied peaks. 

It takes about 3 hours driving from Seattle to get to the launch point of the Lady of the Lakes boat/ferry ... then about 2 hours worth of a nice boat trip... followed by appx 1 hour (transfers, loading, etc.) bus trip up dirt / forest service roads to Holden (nice nostalgic type drive...). 

Then about 3-5 hours skinning/booting (going off memory here...  but it's a ways up) to Holden Lake to camp with all your stuff (winter tent camping).  This is a big trip up to this point... then the fun begins.  There are several un-skied peaks in the area! 

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