Inspired to Climb Spire Point

Trip Stats:
Location
North Cascades, Washington
Elevation Gain
10,285 feet
Distance
41 miles
Days Out
3
Rating
Must Go!
Who Came
Eric Darsow and I
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Last year when heading down Eldorado Peak I saw Spire Point’s North Face blazing with sunset colors. It looked impossibly difficult, but perhaps that’s what caught my attention about this mountain. I studied maps and looked at photographs which all made it seem like a far off fantasy. Interest for this peak arised when Matt Lemke and I wanted to do the Ptarmigan Traverse during the month of August. Matt talked with Gerry Roach about potential routes and did all the research for this peak. Just before heading out to do the Torment Forbidden Traverse, I received a last second invite from Gimpilator to climb Dome Peak. After a few conversations our trip was reworked and set for a 4 day trip.

Alpenglow on Spire Point
Alpenglow on Spire Point from Eldorado


Spire Point itself proved to be an exciting fun climb with low 5th class. This peak is in one of the most remote places in Washington giving the sensation of being a long ways from home. Along the way I saw many amazing things and had a great overall experience. This was perhaps the most experienced team I’ve ever climbed with which included Jacob Smith and Ryan Hoover. By the end of the trip I was certainly inspired.

Spire Point from Dome Peak
Spire Point from Dome Peak : Photo Taken by Matt Lemke


Spire Point 2nd rappel
Rappel on Spire Point

Glacier Peak with Cub Lake
Glacier Peak with Lake

On the Upper Dome Glacier
Upper Dome Glacier

Arch Spire with Sloan Peak
Arch Spire with Sloan

Jacob Smith with Glacier Peak
Hiking on Dome Peak

Day 1: Biking the Valley

We met up at the Suiattle River Road trailhead. From here we pulled out our bikes and made some last second gear arrangements. Before long we hopped on our bikes and started the 10 mile bike ride up to Downey Creek.

Suiattle River Sunset
Sunset from the Valley



Biking the Suiattle Road
Biking the Suiattle Road


Near Downey creek we stopped to rest for the night. Jacob and I built a camp fire which we all had some fun conversations and joked a bit. But after a while we had to get rest for the big day ahead.

Day 2: Approach Day

We woke up, made some breakfast, and were pretty soon on the move up the Downey creek trail. The path was mostly flat and was in great condition with a few minor creek crossings. After 6 miles of hiking we took a rest and filled up water near the bottom of Bachelor creek. The trail did not have as much brush as it’s reputation made it out to be, I suppose it’s gotten better in recent times. On our way up the valley there were tasty blue berry bushes as well as a few salmon berries. Almost all of us were going to town on them until most of them were gone.

Creek Crossing on the Downey Creek Trail
Creek Crossing on the Trail

Side Creeks along Downey Creek
Creek View on the Way

Green Scenery Above
Green Scenery Above

Purple Flowers
Purple Flowers

Misch Peak to the West
Misch Peak to the West



Orange Mushrooms
Orange Mushrooms


We took a short cut variation that cut left instead of right which by passed the slide alder section. This variation followed the edge of the woods until we arrived at the avalanche debris section. The route got a little steep here, but was still hikeable. Before long we arrived at the saddle above Cub Lake which was a great picnic spot.

Creek Crossing on the way up Bachelor Creek
Creek Crossing on the way up Bachelor Creek



Heading up the Avalanche Debris
Heading up the Avalanche Debris



The Edge of the Spire Point Group
The Edge of the Spire Point Group


As we hiked down toward Cub Lake we could very clearly see Glacier Peak to the South. Around the corner we could see the saddle that we later would camp at. Unfortunately my feet got soaking wet due to the mud sections. I guess that’s what happens when you wear approach shoes with huge holes on both of them. Everyone who see’s them tells me I ought to throw them out. But they work well most of the time. After a little while longer we arrive at the saddle where we placed our camp.

Looking South toward Cub Lake
Looking South toward Cub Lake



Hiking up the Basin
Hiking up the Basin



Spire Point s South Face
Spire Point’s South Face



Looking towards our Camp area
Looking towards our Camp area


This was certainly one of the better camping places I’ve been to. The sunset was a great treat.

Dome Peak during Evening
Dome Peak during Evening

An Awesome Place to Camp
An Awesome Place to Camp

Looking Down the Valley
Looking Down the Valley

Bannock Mountain late in the Day
Late Day Lighting

Yours Truly with Dome Peak
Excited for Dome Peak and Spire Point



View from our Camp
View from our Camp



Alpenglow on Dome Peak
Alpenglow on Dome Peak



East and West Spire Point
East and West Spire Point



Sunset to the West
Sunset to the West



Sunset on the Dome Glacier
Sunset on the Dome Glacier



Alpenglow on Bannock Mountain
Alpenglow on Bannock Mountain



Sunset from our Camp
Sunset from our Camp

Day 3: Summit Bid on Dome Peak

When we woke up we were welcomed with a beautiful sunrise. The following pictures portray many of the fun moments during our “short” climb up Dome Peak.

Morning View from our Camp
Morning View from our Camp



Morning Sunrise on Dome Peak
Morning Sunrise on Dome Peak



Sunrise on Glacier Peak
Sunrise on Glacier Peak



Heading out to Dome Peak
Heading out to Dome Peak


Clouds in the Valley
Clouds in the Valley

Hiking near the Boulder Field
Hiking up the Rock

Matt Lemke with neat Clouds Above
Matt Lemke with neat Clouds

Downey Mountain to the West
Downey Mountain

Looking South West
Looking South West

Steep Snow Section Ahead
Steep Snow Section Ahead

Matt leading the Way
Matt leading the Way

Neat Atmosphere over Dome Peak
Neat Atmosphere over Dome

Eldorado Peak in the Distance
Eldorado Peak in the Distance

Buckner, Logan, and Goode in the Distance
Buckner, Logan, and Goode

Ptarmigan Traverse to the North
Ptarmigan Traverse

Spire Point s South East Face
Spire Point

Arch Spire with Sloan Peak
Arch Spire with Sloan Peak

Jacob Smith with Glacier Peak
Jacob Smith with Glacier Peak

Lenticular Cloud forming over Glacier Peak
Lenticular Cloud forming over Glacier Peak



Hiking up the Dome Glacier
Hiking up the Dome Glacier



Nearing the End of the Glacier
Nearing the End of the Glacier



Steep Snow near the Summit
Steep Snow near the Summit



The Summit Ridge of Dome Peak
The Summit Ridge of Dome Peak



The Crux Move
The Crux Move



Crossing the knife edge
Crossing the Knife Edge: Photo by Matt Lemke



No Easy Ways Around
No Easy Ways Around



Heading down to Camp
Heading down to Camp


Looking towards Spire Point
Looking towards Spire Point

Arch Spire with Clouds
Arch Spire with Clouds

Taking a Rest on the Glacier
Taking a Rest on the Glacier

Unroping on the Dome Glacier
Unroping on the Dome Glacier

After a successful day climbing Dome Peak we took it easy for the rest of the day and once again enjoyed a nice sunset.

Bannock Mountain Clouding Over
Bannock Mountain Clouding Over



Sunset on the Clouds
Sunset on the Clouds



Alpenglow on Dome Peak
Alpenglow on Dome Peak

Day 4: Spire Point and Out

We agreed at this point to split up, Matt and I were going to climb Spire Point and head out in the same day. We left camp around 8:00 a.m. and made great time most of the way up Spire Point’s south side. Near the top we traversed the edge of the glacier and onto the bottom of the climb. Heading to the right it started out as class 2 but as we went right we got to a class 4 chimney which was fun. I wanted to take some pictures of this part but my camera had ran out of power. Matt fortunately backed me up.

The Ridge near our Camp
The Ridge near our Camp



Approaching Spire Point
Approaching Spire Point



Spire Point
Spire Point’s East Face



Spire Point
Myself wondering what to Do Here


I was on the sharp end exploring around the corner which did not look friendly. Sure it looked possible, but without rock climbing shoes, without a belay, and with a pack on I did not feel comfortable with the idea. If I couldn’t see what was beyond it and I knew that I could not safely down climb this spot. Looking around I found a rock that would work for belaying. Matt brought two nut cams and decided he would lead this section. Both Matt and I agree that it was low 5th class. Matt safely made it up top and belayed me up very close to the summit. The last section was kinda slab like. I belayed Matt on a horn, only one of us could summit at a time. I lowered him down which it was my turn. The summit ending was very exposed but was exciting and safe enough roped. There was a nice anchor on the summit to get down on. Using the horn we belayed on we used it for the rappel.

The first rappel
The First Rappel

Spire Point
Views to the South

Spire Point scramble
Scramble Section

Spire Point North Towers
Spire Point North Towers

Spire Point 2nd rappel
Rappelling down the Class 4 Section

Spire Point summit area
Spire Point’s Summit Block

Josh Rappelling Spire Point
Rappelling down the Class 5 Section


The rest of the way down had a little scrambling but was mostly a walk down. Back at camp I saw Gimpilator enjoying the scenery which normally he would rather climb peaks. But I don’t blame him one bit. Matt and I packed up our gear and had to make good time to get down all the way to car before dark. We managed to find a trail on the way down though the avalanche debris but it had a lot of fallen trees in it. Once at Downey creek the trail kept going on and on which every corner I thought for sure it would be close to the road. It was almost dark by the time we arrived at the bikes. We biked fast to escape the night. We almost made it, but was forced to put head lamps on. At about 8:55 p.m. we arrive at the car which I was very pleased. We had finished two amazing peaks and enjoyed 4 great days in the mountains.