Distance: 12.0 mi.
Elevation Gain: 5546 ft.
Evan and Arianna had the idea to try this lesser-known peak in the Enchantments. We got started at the Eightmile Lake Trailhead at 9 AM. We reached Eightmile Lake at 10 AM and had a nice little snack rest. This is where the easy part of our hike ended. At the west end of Eightmile Lake, we headed due north up the creek drainage to the east of Eightmile Mountain. It was mostly travel through thin brush and downed burned trees on a very steep slope, with only faint hints of previous boot paths to follow. Once in the upper basin between 5500′ and 5,700′, it was mostly nice meadows, occasional marshy areas and large blocky granite.
We began travelling northwest (climbers left) through increasingly large boulder fields with a few interspersed patches of snow. We got a little confused how to proceed as we headed farther west, because there was an impassable, giant patch of thick slide alder brush in front of us. We ended up going left (south) around the brush tangle, but this forced us to stick closer to the rock gullies on the south than we would have liked. Rocks were melting out and rolling down upon us as we traversed through, plus the snow under our feet gave way at sudden moments as we crossed boulders. Not ideal. We got back on deeper, consolidated snow and continued moving west toward the summit ridge from the south. We had several gullies to choose from to reach the ridge, but decided to go with one farther climber’s left (south), which looked less steep but also had cornices at the top. We moved quickly and one-by-one up the gully and reached the ridge at 1:30 PM.
We thought it would be easy-going northwestward up the ridge to the summit, but it ended up being pretty slow-going. There were several ups and downs and brief scrambles. We reached the summit at 2:30 PM and had lunch.
We decided to go down a different (farther north) gully on the way back. This one was steeper, so Craig went down first and kicked nice steps. He waited for us about midway down the gully. Vanessa and Arianna followed his steps on a slope-facing downclimb, then plunge stepped when the slope got gentler.
Evan found it easy to plunge step down the whole way, since the snow was so soft. We glissaded down the rest of the gully and managed to stay on snow all the way back to the giant slide alder patch of doom.
We decided to try going through the patch on the north side and found a decent way through, although the ground was weird and marshy here. We reached the meadows above Eightmile Lake again at about 5:30 PM, and were back at the lake at 6:15. Our feet were pretty grumpy by the end of the hike but it was a worthwhile trip for the different perspective on the beautiful Enchantments area of Washington.
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Recommended Brew: Leavenworth Eightmile Alt
- Aluminum crampons
- Aluminum ice axe
- Glacier glasses
- Mountaineering boots
- Trekking poles
- Water drops/filter