Eaton Peak 12/09/09

Peter A. on Eaton Peak:
“Bahman, Michael, Eric, Thomas, Ben, Irina, Evgeny, and I tackled the tough hike and scramble up Eaton Peak’s west summit. The first 4 km of the trail is a 915 metre climb up to Eaton Lake. The trail was well-marked and generally quite wide. The 3 log “bridges” across Eaton Creek were in good shape, and because it was hot and dry, no problems with the logs being slippery. We reached the beautiful lake in approx 2 hours. From the lake, the route is a bushwhack through forest in a south-east direction to arrive at alpine just below a prominent cliff which can be seen from the lake. To start our bushwhack, we found an obvious trail behind the campsites that led uphill to a small boulder field. Across the boulder field there was a piece of flagging tape. Beyond that point, no tape was visible, and so I led our team to the east on a gradual ascent through very dense trees and bush, not wanting to cut too steeply uphill. The correct direction was to head more directly uphill (south). We eventually found Eaton Creek above the lake, and because the water flow was manageable and the rocks and moss not too slippery, we climbed up the creek to a plateau. We then followed a dry creek bed up a steep gradient and arrived at the prominent cliff face. We traversed below the face, and then climbed a steep boulder field to attain the north edge of the basin in front of Eaton Peak. Access to the west ridge was an obvious notch along the ridge. After crossing the boulder-filled basin, we scrambled up a steep ramp leading to the notch in the ridge. The start of the ridge scramble was very difficult as we crawled and climbed our way through krummholz-overgrown boulders. However, as a result, we avoided the first crux referred to in other trail reports. The second crux (the chimney) was challenging, but fun as the rock is very stable (our experienced alpinist, Bahman, assisted those who needed some suggestions for foot and hand holds. We also fixed a rope for support). Throughout the ridge ascent there were mild to moderately exposed ledges and slabs, and straddling the boulder in the “au cheval” move provided lots of laughs. The summit was beautiful, and our visibility exceptional. Baker and many other notable mountains were clear. Our time from trailhead to summit was approx. 5 hours. On our descent, after carefully down-climbing the chimney crux, we dropped down the steep gully that lies immediately to the west of the ridge and followed this almost to the notch where we had first gained the ridge. Then, during our descent of the boulder fields to the creek, we spotted a black bear feasting on berries. Thankfully, it was on the other side of the fields. We also feasted on huge blueberries and huckleberries. Since the water in the creek was relatively low, we avoided a lot of bushwhacking by descending the creek as far as we could, then bushwhacking west to the campground on Eaton Lake. We left the lake at 7:20pm, and ended up using our headlamps to arrive back at the parking lot. Total time was 11 hours. An outstanding hike with technically challenging scrambles, and a great group!”

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