Way behind on my trip reports so they are probably going to be even shorter and more crappy than usual as I try to catch up on them. I hit up Duffy who I know doesn't mind thrashing around off trail for this little adventure up in Sunshine Valley to help me get 2 peaks closer to closing off all 21. Basically From Skagit River (Hope Mountain ) to Skagit river (Marmot Mountain)
We drove his SUV to the gate and parking area to protect the cabins in the area, and followed the road up to the old ski lift. Katie and Jess and I were up this way in the dead of winter for Goldtip and Tearse. Alot easier without snow. From here we followed an atv track all the way up into the head of the valley.
With cliffs and waterfalls blocking most of the way, the obvious route is on the right, SimonC had descended this route so we knew it would go. He did it without snow and reported it being pretty bushy, with our late season of snow melt, we lucked out with hard packed snow up the creek.
We put on the crampons and walked up the steep sections with ease. Eventually the grade mellowed out as we reached the ridge between Goldtip and Merge. From here we turned right and started up Merge's ridge.
The ridge up Merge was abit more involved that I thought it would be, sections of it was pretty steep snow with long bad runouts. The snow wasn't as hard as in the creek lower down so care was taken at times.
It wasn't always steep and as we reached a plateau where the summit comes into view, we ditched our snowshoes which we weren't sure if we would need. Now we just cramponed up to the summit of Merge and found another Neil Grainger cross. 3rd one of the year for me.
I pointed over to Rocktip which was looking impresive and asked Duffy if he wanted to go for it, he was game so off we went. The ridge that connects it was mellow and less than 200m elevation loss we got to the base of Rocktip. The ridge was a rock route, or there was a steep snow slope out to the right. We went up the rock for abit but it started to look shitty so I made the call to traverse over to the snow slope.
The traverse was fun and steep, the snow was still good and once on the slope Duffy got to experience steep snow for the first time. His crampon popped off at the worst time, I had to downclimb and chop out a ledge with my adze for him to put it back on safely.
All systems a go, we carried onto the summit of Rocktip where it started to snow on us in June. LAME!
The trip back went fine, and fast, except now the snow coming down off of Merge was kinda mushy. It took us abit of time to downclimb Merge as the clouds started to lift.
It was smooth sailing back to the valley bottom and to the car for some beers. Then to the farm fields to check on my crop and more beers.