From Iceburg Lake to Gold Creek Valley
We started early in the day, not knowing how long the final leg of the journey would be. With the snow still firm we replaced our skiis with crampons and pushed forward, traversing under Lemah mountain. Suddenly the last mountain on our trip came into view, Chikamin Peak.
We skinned up the slopes as the afternoon sun drained our energy, later to find it was the hottest day of the season. Occasionally looking back at Jason and all the terrain we had covered in the past day.
Our final objective was to ride off the summit pyramid of Chikamin. Jason led the way up the steep eastern face while I transitioned to crampons and put my board on my pack.
It was much steeper then anticipated as I clenched onto two ice axes, meticulously kick stepping on the frozen surface. After a hasty lunge over the shrund we were standing merely feet below the true summit.
Standing near the summit we could see that our line had melted out. We pondered what to do next, looking to where are car was parked 4000 feet and 10 miles below.
We descended down the couloir we had just climbed and looked once again over the topo. It seemed that everything on the west face was melted, this was the direction we needed to go. A decision had to be made quickly so we decided to attempt riding a NW facing chute in hopes it would connect us to the Pacific Crest trail.
Once arriving at the top of the chute we prepared for a epic bushwack before dropping in. Its was unnerving but at that time we had no other choice. Jason led the way finding a route that melted out only feet from the trail. We had made it out and from then on everything would be easy, or so we thought.
We kept a great pace following the summer trail but because of where the car was parked we had to drop down into the valley. According to one of Jasons maps there was a trail that led directly to our car so we downclimbed in order to find it.
We quickly found the overgrown trail and forged through dense vegetation going less then a mile a hour. The sun was blazing and our bodies exhausted from the past 6 days as we pushed forward.
Not realizing our mistake we pushed past a creek without refilling our water bottles. By the time we had realized there was no water available and we had worked ourselves to the ground. A rest was in order and I was seriously considering camping right where we were.
We rested for about a hour before pushing on, only to find a stream a rock throw from where we were.
The trail slowly improved and before long we were back on a maintained path. By now all we could think of was making it back to the car before sunset. I didn’t care about wet gear anymore, passing stream after stream of knee deep water without taking my gear off. The creeks were deeper then normal but totally manageable.
When we reached the Gold Creek we saw that the bridge was out. It was the hottest day of the season and in front of us was waist to chest deep water. Thinking nothing of it I started crossing but the current almost ripped me off my feet, I grabbed onto a tree and pulled myself back to shore.
If I wanted to get out of there I would have to cross the river but falling could easily be fatal, it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. Jason had experience crossing rivers so he slowly made his way across first. I didn’t want to attempt it again until morning but Jason went to the edge of the current and extended his pole for me to grab.
One foot at a time I stepped into the current and grabbed onto his ski pole, finally we were on the final stretch to the car.
All of my gear was soaked but I didn’t care. It was a race against sunlight and I was determined to win. My boots squished with every step for the final 9 miles. The nonstop hiking had taken its toll on my feet with not a inch of skin spared (later on my feet would be compared to a 3rd degree burn victim). We made it to the car just as darkness arrived, completely exhausted we dropped to the ground and celebrated.
We had completed our goal in traversing the regions most rugged mountains and pulled the route off perfectly.
No more 60 pound bags, no more freeze dried meals, no more living out of a tent. Or so we thought.
I highly recommend this tour if you have the opportunity to do so. Out of all the traverses I have done I easily found this to be the most enjoyable.
For a more detailed version check my website
Here is Jasons account of the trip
PLEASE PURCHASE PHOTOS FROM JASON. I OWN A FEW AND THEY ARE AMAZING. YOU WOULD ALSO HELP US PRODUCE STOKE!!!!!!