Thirtythree Peak


A more than challenging climb, Thirtythree Peak made for a great Father's Day.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

I have been slowly working on my list of peaks in the area. Today, I woke up to a perfect bluebird day, so it was time to go after another one. It took about 45 minutes to get to the trailhead for Lake Thirtythree, and in the 31° temps, the occasional snow was firm. Like, rock hard.


The sun was doing its thing where it could reach the ground. I was already down to a single layer, but with gloves.


The gloves were nice because much of the valley was still in shade. And the bushes and branches were covered in frost.

There are flagging and cairns, but the trail is still not obvious.


Near the head of the valley, the trail goes through a saddle before dropping into Lake Thirtythree. Today, the last bit of trail before the saddle was buried in snow. Without crampons and axe (you might ask why?), this was going to be tricky.


It took a lot of extra work, but I made it to the saddle for a view of Lake Thirtythree. This is about 90 minutes in, if you were able to move fast and stay on the trail.


And over there, across and up some rock-hard snowfields, it's Thirtythree Peak.

Zoom in and you can just barely see the actual summit sticking up.


After some traversing, I was looking up the most promising gully. I figured that I could use the scattered rocks and boulders to make this endeavor a little safer.

A little. Although the sun had been on the snow for a while now, the snow was still petty darn hard. I could jut barely make a nick in it.


I finally gave up on the snow and did some easy rock climbing to gain the ridge.


But the view of the ridge was not encouraging.

I checked the GPS, and it was indeed a long way to the summit from here. Dang.


OMG- is that the summit? Looks horrifying.

No, that's not the summit. But when I got around this one, the gendarme behind it didn't look much better. But it wasn't the summit, either.

Okay, THAT might be the summit. But still not promising. Trailhead

I did a long circle around the blocks and eventually found a route that seemed to have an acceptable amount of risk.

Up, around, up some more, easier terrain, and then finally there it was.



You can see the saddle to Lake Thirtythree to the left and the same level as my lower lip.

I hung out, had some lunch, worked on my tan, and finally decided that maybe I should head down. But all that scrambling was going to be even slower going down.... So after some examination of the map, I decided that the south ridge might be promising. Only one way to find out....


On easy terrain, I dropped a few hundred feet off the south ridge. This is working.

I was working my way down the shoulder and decided it was time to do a terrain check. So I climbed back to the ridge crest. When I first saw the dark wall on the right, I thought I was screwed.

But when I crept out onto the cornice, I could see the gully below. Yay!



I plunge stepped some steep (but now soft) snow, then got onto some steep ramps. Eventually I got off the wall onto the lower-angle snow slopes and started a long traverse back to my uptrack.

By now, the snow had softened. I found that last week's fresh was doing a great job of disguising the sun cups of the week prior. Each step was different, with some on a thin coat over a hard, icy base. And some were a 6" blob of slush over an old sun cup. This made for a trying traverse, with totally inconsistent snow, occasional slippery steps, and constant torque on my ankles. And then, between boulders, plunging down into the occasional hole up to your crotch.

At last, the saddle is getting closer. Trailhead

When I got to the saddle, the softer snow made life relatively easy and I was soon back trying to find the vague trail(s) out of the lake. If you zoom in, you can see Lick Creek road and the approximate location of my truck.

Unfortunately, the trail(s) was a lot harder to follow on the way down. But I had GPS'd my uptrack, so I didn't lose too much time wandering on the braids.




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