Apex, Wolframite, Cathedral (Unsuccessful), Amphitheater & Mount Remmel
We decided to venture into one of the corners of the Pasayten Wilderness last week. We figured there wouldn’t be too many folks out there as Washington Pass wasn’t open yet, it was earlier in the season and the weather forecast was terrible. We were excited to explore this little area of the Pasayten that was just down the road from where we are living in Winthrop, WA.
Day 1 - 5.11.20 - Entered the Wilderness on Thirtymile Trailhead
We entered at the Thirtymile Trailhead (no other cars at the TH) and spent the day walking along the Chewuch River, turning right at the Tungsten Creek Trail and spending the night at the Tungsten Mine on snow. We could see the weather coming in, but that day the weather was fairly stable. We hit snow on the trail at about 5,500 feet up and were walking in our snowshoes from then on. The trail on the way had a fair amount of fallen trees on it and it was obvious that folks haven’t made it out to maintain the trail...because of all the stuff going on.
Day 2 - 5.12.20 - Hike Along the Boundary Trail - Summit Apex and Wolframite Mountain
We hiked along the fairly easy to follow boundary trail in the morning. We stepped off the trail and climbed up Wolframite and Apex peaks along the way. Then, we began the long sidehill on the hard to follow boundary trail. We were unable to find where the trail would be, so we got caught kind of high on the steep slope that the trail is cut into. At some point we decided to take off our snowshoes, as sidehilling in snowshoes is very difficult, and we postholed on the “trail” for a few hours. We eventually made our way around and went up and over Cathedral Pass. We were basically walking in a storm most of the day. The last hour we were walking below Cathedral Peak in whiteout conditions.
Day 3 - 5.13.20 - Cathedral Peak Attempt & Summit of Amphitheater Mountain
We decided we would wake up this morning and see what the weather was doing. We woke and there was a short break in the weather, so we decided we would go for Cathedral Peak. We made the journey up the peak. Towards the top, the rock became very icy and,at some points, dangerous to be on. We made it to the infamous “airy step” that is about 30 feet from the summit. With cold hands and toes, ice covering all of the rock, and intermittent snow showers happening we woefully decided that making this big “airy step” in these conditions was actually very unsafe. We give ourselves a “Best Effort” on this peak and will make the journey back here later in the summer for sure. We headed back to camp, ate some lunch and decided to go for Amphitheater Mountain. This peak was a mellow walk up around on the Southwest slope. We were glad to make it to the top of one peak for the day.
Day 4 - 5.14.20 - Hike to Four Point Lake
We knew that the weather had been very uncooperative so far on this trip and were amazed that we made it up the peaks that we did, but we wanted to give Mount Remmel a go. Our weather forecast from earlier in that week said that it was supposed to clear up on Friday. So, we walked down past Remmel Lake, taking in beautiful views of Mount Remmel along the way, eventually gaining the trail along the Chewuch River. We walked in a downpour for most of the day. When we turned at the junction to head towards Four Point Lake, we were faced with a raging river to cross. Initially, we had hoped that there would be a bridge across the river, but there was not one. Due to the rainfall - there was no way that we were going to be able to ford this river safely. We scouted down the river and were lucky enough to find a jumble of trees across the river that made for a fairly simple crossing. We walked up the trail to a nice camp at Four Point Lake…...except that it was dumping snow for most of the evening while we were there. We went to sleep with the hope of waking up to good weather. We told ourselves that we would give it until 10am the next morning to decide if we were going to attempt to climb Mount Remmel.
Day 5 - 5.15.20 - Mount Remmel Summit & Begin Our Hike Out
We woke up and it was still dumping snow. Bummer. It was about 7:30am and we decided to have a slow breakfast and some coffee and wait it out until 10am. At around 9am the weather slowed. We got out of the shelter to see what was happening. At around 9:30am we could actually see the summit from Four Point Lake and there was blue sky above us -- but still clouds swirling all around us. We decided that it was worth starting the journey towards the summit! We followed the trail as best as we could and then found ourselves up in the basin below the summit looking directly at the southern slope. We dropped our snowshoes below and began kicking steps until we gained the south ridge and then scrambled on boulders and snow to the summit. We made it -- we didn’t think we would!! Great view from the top of this standout mountain in this area of the Pasayten. We hung out for a while at the top and enjoyed the view while a small pocket of blue sky swirled around us. Eventually, we glissaded down to our snowshoes and walked in good moods back to camp.
We wanted to sleep on dry ground for the night, as we had not done that the whole trip, so we packed up camp and walked 7 miles back to a nice camp at the junction of Tungsten Creek and the Chewuch River. We enjoyed a nice evening where we did not have to huddle in our shelter to avoid the weather and for warmth.
Day 6 - 5.16.20 - Hike Out
We had a leisurely morning and packed up and left camp around 8am. I guess we were excited about the food and news that awaited us. We enjoyed our walk out and made it out to the trailhead at about 11:30am. Some people had come in and cut some of the fallen trees down, so we were thankful for the sections of easy walking along the way. We ran into a small group of other hikers on their way in while we were on our way out. We made it back to the car, changed our shoes, drank a sparkling water and headed back towards Winthrop.
What a great trip full of weather, challenge, getting lost a bit, snowshoeing, and cold toes and hands.