June 28, 2016
Temperatures began to rise and the remaining alpine snow was quickly disappearing before our eyes. Summer was finally beginning to dominate the high country. Pat “Perry” Johnson and I were eager to transition into approaches involving lighter packs and routes with more rock than snow. We planned for a full day in the alpine knowing that the weather would be bluebird and warm.
At around 4:45 AM we set out on the route to the summit of Mt. Helen from Crystal Gulch, a rather uninteresting slog with a scarce trail. At the top we prepared for the ridge traverse between Mt. Helen and Father Dyer Peak, the highlight of the Mohawk Lakes cirque. This traverse goes class 3/4 but our goal was to keep it as ridge proper as possible, so we brought a 30 meter rope and some rap tat in case we ran into a spot that could not be down climbed. The ridge starts out pretty mellow but increases in difficulty as it reaches Father Dyer Peak. We were able to keep the traverse proper and only had to break out the rope for one short rappel when we found ourselves cliffed out where the ridge begins to join Father Dyer Peak.
With the difficulties of the day behind us we finished the ridge to Father Dyer Peak and then the short walk to Crystal Peak. Perry and I have stood on these peaks more than a few times so we continued on quickly towards Pacific Peak. The real highlight for us on this part of the traverse was to put eyes on the infamous north couloir running from the summit of Pacific Peak. I had been wanting to climb this in late spring conditions, although once we were able scrutinize the route it was evident that there wasn’t much snow left to climb in it.
We finished the class 3 scramble to Pacific Peak’s summit, had a quick snack, and then descended via it’s east ridge. Once we were above the upper Mohawk Lakes we entered one of the Hawaii couloirs and were able to glissade the whole way back into the basin with ice axe in hand. After a short hike down Mohawk Lakes trail another awesome day in the alpine was in the books.