20 years ago I got into hiking. My brother and I did some good trips together but he's got a family now and he's more into rowing and cycling. He did kindle a deep desire in myself though to spend a lot of my time in the mountains. The past 6 years I've concentrated on new peaks with 300 or so accomplished and this trip to Damfino along with a side trip to Highmark Hill has realized this years goal of reaching the 600 mark.
Damfino is a tower/spire located in the high country between Yellow Aster Butte and the Church/Bearpaw Mountains area (or east of Damfino Lakes). No actual trail leads to it from the High Divide above Mount Baker Highway so it doesn't get a lot of visits.
From Glacier I drive 20km east and turn up the unmarked Forest Road 3060 (just before the Twin Lakes turnoff) and go a mile up that to the parking area. The Welcome Pass Trail follows the old logging road for a while then becomes a steep switchback trail up to the Pass where I get my first view of Damfino.
Welcome Butte then Damfino with McGuire in the far distance.
On a easy grade the High Divide Trail goes west towards Excelsior Pass but I decided to leave it early and head over towards Welcome Butte. Near the base of that I change my mind as I now had better sight lines and wander back towards the trail, picking it up for a brief moment before leaving it again and ascending up to Highmark Hill.
Yellow Aster Butte from near the base of Welcome Butte. The Pleiades at left with Pocket and Lindeman distant right.
Looking westward from Highmark Hill (1780m approx.) Church/Bearpaw area in the distance.
The view towards Damfino and the ridge route to get there. Tomyhoi Peak on the right.
From Highmark I drop down a little then turn northwards dropping some more before going up/down over a few bumps (some minor bushwacking) to approach a cliffy section. Going left (west) I drop down into a bowl with marmots whistling their warnings then up/down into another bowl before a steepish grassy climb back up to the ridge.
From here I could drop a little then gain the final ridgeline before turning right (east) but I chose to drop down and sidehill over to the base of the peak and bypass the knoll in front of it.
Damfino approach. Traverse under the knoll then up to the base. On the way back I went over the knoll then up to the north/south ridge to make it a mini loop.
The sidehill went okay and I reach the base of the peak. EAK has been here and he rated the climb as stiff class 3. Knowing that class 3 to him is sometimes class 4 to people like me I was a little apprehensive on the approach and it still looked a little foreboding directly below it too.
Damfino Peak west face.
In the end though it was a great little scramble with just one section I'd rate as stiff class 3 and the upper section has a minor gully to follow. Some rock is loose so I was checking my holds and I placed small cairns to help with the descent. Small flying ants were crowding out the summit so I touched it, found the summit log and retreated a little where I could sit down with some butterflies and ladybugs whilst mentally patting myself on the back for reaching peak 600.
Chilliwack and McGuire with JH rear left.
WNW view with Church/Bearpaw area at left. Bald and Black centre rear along with Cowap and Liumchen on the right.
1875m summit shot. Goat(s) and Sefrit framing me. Challenger area behind me I think.
Butterfly resting on my pack.
The summit log was saturated with water so I left it in the sun to dry out. Ed's name was in there and the last entry was from 3 years ago. After an hour or so on the summit I packed up and descended with no issues then headed up to the knoll.
The route basically goes up the middle with a few doglegs. Larrabee rear left, Goat and Sefrit rear right with YAB in front of them.
Descending off the knoll I then hiked up the grassy slopes to the main ridge for a few more shots before turning southward and closing the mini loop.
Tomyhoi and Damfino with Larrabee poking up between them.
Retracing my steps along the ridge I paused a couple of times for huckleberries. The only flowers left up here are fireweed.
Southeastern view - Goat, Sefrit, Icy, Shuksan (with Welcome Butte in front of it) and Herman.
Back to the High Divide area I take another break and drink most of my remaining fluids before picking up the trail and following out.
Damfino, Tomyhoi, American Border Peak and Larrabee.
Shuksan from the trail.
My right knee was starting to ache a lot and I wasn't looking forward to the steep downhill trail. I swallow 3 pain pills with my remaining water then head down. 4km later I'm back at my vehicle where I dump my pack then wander over to the creek nearby that features a concrete weir. Deep enough to jump in and even swim a few strokes. It cools me down fast and I wash off pine needles and trail grime before returning to my vehicle where the post hike beer goes down well.
Creek and weir/dam.
After changing clothes I drive out and back to the border where I drove right up to the crossing with no wait. From there it's a visit to my parents and once again my timing is good as they just had pizza delivered.
Map of area and route.