Mount Challenger via Easy Ridge (attempted)

Ian and I parked at the Hannegan Pass trailhead, and headed up Hannegan Trail (#674) over Hannegan Pass and into the Chilliwack River valley. Between US Cabin Camps and the creek crossing with a USGS benchmark plaque (on a boulder after the first big creek crossing after Copper Creek), we found the climbers trail that crosses the Chilliwack River. It was a pretty obvious trail intersection. From the north side of the river we could see what looked like old pilings for a bridge that must have been used when the Easy Ridge lookout was in service.

I forded the Chilliwack River 40 feet upstream from the trail, Ian crossed on a log 20 feet downstream. The trail picked up next to the old pilings. Except for blowdowns and a couple brushy spots, the trail was in good condition and easily followable. It continues onto the ridge and well beyond the summit of Easy Peak.

We made our first camp where the climbers path reaches the top of the ridge. It was a good site with a tarn nearby and room for a couple tents.

The next day we followed the bootpath up Easy Ridge. There was a short scramble on steep snow and rock at 6,400' shortly before reaching the summit of Easy Peak. We found two nice tent spots and a tarn on the summit of Easy Peak. Shortly before point 6,553' on Easy Ridge we started making a descending traverse across lovely open meadows down to the base of a buttress of Whatcom Peak where we found Imperfect Impasse.

At Imperfect Impasse (a deep chasm with vertical walls) we scrambled around looking at the high route. We weren't sure if a single-rope rappel would suffice to get down the impasse, and we had heard stories of parties that got sketched out while doing the high route, so we decided to play it safe and descend to a lower crossing.

We found our low crossing around 4,450'. After crossing the impasse we pushed through some dense brush (the only bushwacking on the whole trip) until we came to a steep meadow. We followed the meadow to an exposed ramp, we scrambled up the ramp, at the top of the ramp we found a rappel station. From the rappel station it was a straight-forward scramble, sometimes on steep meadows of heather and granite, to Perfect Pass.

We camped in a little-used tent site on the south side of Perfect Pass. Ian scrambled around and found a couple more tent sites a couple hundred feet higher up on the south side of the pass.

The next morning we woke to white-out conditions. We roped up and headed for a rock outcropping a few hundred feet out on the glacier, it was eerie to have the other person on the rope dissappear in the swirling fog. For hours we waited for the fog to lift. When it finally permanently lifted it was noon and we decided we had missed our window and were out of time, so we broke camp and headed home.

On the descent to the bottom of Imperfect Impasse, we did one single-rope rappel down the ramp. On the second day, we belayed each other down the exposed, frozen snow slope at 6,400' on the north side of Easy Peak.

Copyright © 2004 Gabriel Deal.