Pickets Day 2: over Whatcom Peak, through Perfect Pass, across the Challenger Glacier to the Challenger Arm - Ian Dryg

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Day 2 Summary: 

Left Whatcom Pass to summit Whatcom Peak, drop down to Perfect Pass, then cross the Challenger Glacier and camp on the Challenger Arm. Unfortunately I lost my phone and Kindle to my bag rolling into the nice pond at Perfect Pass!

Full report from my trip log below the photos. 

Day 2 - Whatcom Peak, Perfect Pass, & the Challenger Glacier

  • Looking back at the Little Beaver Trail from Whatcom Pass as we head towards Whatcom Peak.

  • Looking across to Mount Challenger and the Challenger Glacier as we approach Whatcom Peak.

  • Whatcom Peak! We traversed along the ridge on the right, climbed up those snowfields and rock, all the way to the summit.

  • Heading up Whatcom Peak! It got pretty steep and scrambley!

  • Last resting spot before roping up for the final snowfield and 4th class climbing. Challenger Arm and Luna Peak in the background.

  • How we felt about the upcoming climb! Whatcom Peak!

  • Heading up and getting steeper.

  • Made it to the top of Whatcom Peak! Shuksan and Baker in the background.

  • Looking down on the Challenger Glacier from Whatcom Peak.

  • Traversing the knife edge from the top of Whatcom Peak. We glissaded down that snowfield towards Perfect Pass - The top of that snowfield is where we spotted bear tracks and droppings! (photo taken by Kristian Eschenberg)

  • Looking back at Whatcom Peak (the right-most peak) from Perfect Pass. That snowfield is the one we glissaded down.

  • Perfect Pass living up to its name. Shuksan and Glacier in the background.

  • Huge crevasses on the Challenger Glacier. (Photo taken by Kristian Eschenberg)

  • Mount Challenger and the Challenger Glacier. A massive moat near the summit would make it hard to reach. When we were at the ranger's station before our trip, one ranger said that moat shut them down - we were somewhat late in arriving here, so we didn't go for a summit attempt.

  • Awesome sunset on the Challenger Glacier!

  • The last light.

  • Reaching the Challenger Arm at sunset where we'd set up camp, looking out at Luna Peak and what we'd have in store for tomorrow - the Luna Cirque.

  • Camping under the Milky Way on the Challenger Arm - this is what we live for!

Ian's Trip Log - Sunday, August 27 – “Day 2”

Today was an ass kicker, but we made it! We’ve crossed some serious terrain today. Woke up early – 5AM to get out of camp before anyone came by (we didn’t camp at the designated Whatcom Pass camp… oops). Headed up towards Whatcom Peak, but had to give Kristian a lesson on belaying, anchors, how to rope up, etc. Today was filled with things like this that each slowed us down a bit. Going up Whatcom Peak, we crossed a few snowfields and my crampons weren’t staying on very well on my hiking boots (should have brought my mountaineering boots!) – making me very worried for the Challenger Glacier. We did a lot of class 3-4 scrambling up to the top of Whatcom Peak – pretty epic!

To head towards Perfect Pass, we walked the knife edge ridgeline and dropped down to a high snowfield. We actually found massive bear footprints in the snow at the top of that snowfield! And a pile of bear shit! What was it doing all the way up there?! We glissaded down and I cut my hand open on my ice axe – not too bad. Made it to perfect pass and it surely lived up to its name… it felt like the most peaceful place on earth. Nice breeze, birds chirping, waterfalls, calm pools of water, sunshine, blue sky, beautiful mountains in every direction… We took our shoes off and relaxed in the sun for awhile. Right as we were packing up, my entire bag fell into the pond! So we laid everything out for a half hour more to dry. Then we finally headed out for the glacier.

Instead of dropping down from Perfect Pass to the lower glacier, we ascended up the ride, which turned out to be lots of ups and downs that we couldn’t see earlier! It was frustrating, we were tiring, our spirits were somewhat low, since it was already 4pm, and we had a whole glacier to cross before camp! (actually started the glacier around 6:15pm). We started on the glacier after strapping my crampons on SUPER tight, and everything felt solid. Things went smoothly (turned out that traveling across snow was WAY faster than walking on little rocks that move around half the time!) and the sunset light became amazing – we were in awe at the scenery around us. Finally made it down to camp, boiled snow, made dinner, took some night photos, and passed out. I woke up at 2am realizing I hadn’t written this! Tomorrow, heading to Luna!

Camp to camp: 6:45am – 8:11pm.

Food: 6/9 Mountain House meals, 3/5 granola bars, 3.25/5 trail mix bags, 5/7 oatmeals, 1/2 banana chips, most: apricots, choco espresso beans, cranberries. All of jerky left.

Topo: Whatcom Peak & Mt Challenger