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Mr H goes larch hunting…”

Corteo Peak –the East Ridge/Face (8080+’, p600)

Oct 20, 2013




The crew: Julian Simon and Franklin Bradshaw

Weather: Cold morning, inversion, sunny warm (for fall) and light wind

Map: USGS 7.5 Quad, Mount Arriva.  WA Rank #188 per lists of John.com

slideshow (all the pics)



Another great trip with Julian Sunday.

The weekend started off with a nice jaunt up Lucky Jim Bluff with a great group to celebrate Grant's #2000 peak.  I'll have to get to those pictures...


Then off to wish Roy a happy 85th.  A quick re-pack and met Julian for a trip Up Corteo.  I knew of the popular Mounties route and others had said just go from Maple Pass.  So, with just that as beta we did just that.  


Black Peak and the morning moon


From Pass to Pass

The hike past Heather Pass and to Maple Pass was worth the early wake up.  Brilliant sun, snow and golden larch in their full splendor. 



Frisco reflected in Lake Ann


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Between Heather and Maple Passes the snow cover started and the golden larch too


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Contrasts of trees the trail lead to Maple Pass with plenty of opportunities for shutter delay


 The three mile walk to Maple Pass went fast.  Then a lump in the throat looking at the east face of Corteo.  What the heck had we gotten into (again...)? 


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At Maple Pass a new sign.  Our target was behind it.                                                    Our route


A layer of snow made for an interesting crossing west past Horsefly Pass and under the east face.  Looking up a gulley we nixed that option.  Good kicking up, then bad getting out and a not so appealing traverse to the unknown summit finish.



Now to get to this east ridge


We traversed to gain the east ridge at 6900' then headed up.  Some spots easy cl2-3 punctuated with dicey sections of what the Cascades is best known for -loose, downsloping, black lichen a thin layer of snow and or wet.  That with sunshine and the most stunning views I can remember made a great ascent.  So good, we took time to just sit and take it in (between cruxes).


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The SE gulley had promise, but too many chockstones and cruxes                              The views got better and better as we rose.  Here far left Ballard, Azurite, Harding and Goldenhorn


We tried venturing south to a gulley and north out onto the east face.  We even split ways to see who could find the best (or was that nastiest?).  At times we both agreed that neither option was viable for descent.


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Julian scrambling up the East Ridge


A comment of it must be okay since no rap slings, then a few minutes later we happened upon a grey tattered rap anchor. 



Enough a pitch (or 2, or 3 for someone to rap


A venture onto the east face, then just under the summit stymied by a bad covering on downsloping and degrading ledge (overhanging rock on mud), solid rock with no holds and the best option a very steep snow section that took more nerves, some excavation and strong tactics to surmount.  Luckily, we found a way to make it go.  Little did we know we were 20' below the summit at that point.  Some scratching and crawling and our view (and smiles) broadened as we saw the summit cairn.  Mr H made his appearance to tag the summit.  We stood taking in the views.


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Poking our heads up, this was a great sight.  –Summit monkey…


A nice broad summit to take a break and succumb to severe shutter delay (+3500', 4h50m).  Corteo is a great view point, so many close, tall and familiar summit surrounding.  A good hour spent for lunch, "name the summits" and looking for the register. The cairn was exposed, but no register could be found.  Emptying my pack, I realized I left my new registers in the car... Maybe another can take care of placing a new register.


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Mr H signing us in and checking that it is tucked in the summit cairn




Corteo summit pano



360 degree interactive Corteo summit pano. click and drag in viewer -also zoom in (shift/scroll) and out (ctrl/scroll)


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Black Peak                                                                                                                             Julian checking the vertical west face



Looking way down the west side, more larch



Now to get down

We wandered the summit looking at ways down and our way up.


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Our route up looking from the summit   and what it looked like from below


We had cell reception and the thought of a “long line” ride fleeted.  We had no arguments that we were heading down the SW Ridge. All other options were vertical or already experienced on our way up.  Maybe different in other conditions.  We had to take what we had.


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The SW Ridge –nice and easy way up and down (looking down)                               and looking up 100’ from summit


200'down the ridge we veered left to drop a steep gulley south.


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Now down the South Gulley


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Julian showing some climbing action…


About 7400' we started traversing CCW east then north.



Lower down the angles lessened and made for easy walking (short lived)


Crossing the gulley of Maple Creek (on map) at c7100 and gaining the north side of the east ridge to follow our soft boot prints out.  Were we didn't post-hole on the way in, we did now.  Gees, Maple Pass looked a long ways away.



From the East Ridge looking back to Horsefly and Maple Pass.  Frisco far right.


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The final up to Maple Pass from Horsefly Pass



Topping Maple Pass we took a last pause to admire Corteo.  Another reminder to never under estimate a mountain or its challenges. 


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Time for one more image of the mountain and a look at our route…


Home run

Being 4:30pm, we figured the throngs of tourist would be long gone.  We passed three groups heading in with day packs.  I hope they had headlamps.  The trail was mostly snow free below Heather Pass and with good conversation went by quick enough.  3h30m from the summit we were back at the car.  Good memories of the trip and surprised such a warm calm day after all the storms of late.



Last sunlight on a brilliant golden larch as we dropped down the trail on the east side



It was interesting on trips like this how different each ascent can be –different weather, conditions, routes and group atmosphere…


Have you been counting? This is peak 498…


Thanks for reading, and peakbagging!




Up: 4.5m, 4h52m, vert +3504 -220

Down: 4.5m, 3h30

total: 9h18m (car to car), 9.0m, +/-3724


Gear:    Sunscreen, ice ax, took crampons –not used.  A rope would have been a fine enhancement





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