Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thur, Jun 13 - The Great Alpine Tunnel and Fitzpatrick Peak

Wonderful view from my tent this morning.  Followed an old train railbed up to The Great Alpine Tunnel, that once cut right through the divide.  On the way i passed sawmill curve, where many trains derailed on this dangerous route.  The tunnel entrance was caved in so it was up and over the divide.  lots of snow so i mostly left the trail and climbed up the rocks.  From the top of the divide you could look down at where the train came out on the Pacific side. 

Next i took the alternate route up Fitzpatrick Peak.  I never found a trail and ended up way to high on the divide.  Stubborn as I am I didn't want to loss any altitude so I slabbed around the edge of the divide until rock faces forced me lower.  At one point I ran into a herd of elk.  The final summit push was a mix of soft and hard snow and melting soggy meadows until the rocky final pyramid.  Fitzpatrick Peak 13,124 feet, with a pointed rocky summit and 360 view.  Signed the small register canister chained to a rock.  Watched a small plane fly by almost  at eye level.

The climb down the ridge was fantastic until i hit s scary cornice that had huge cracks and fissures.  I decided it was too scary and down-climbed a just as scary steep rock wall.  This time I think I was too low on the divide and still found no trail.  I could see down to Tincup Pass and it had a wall of snow across it so I traversed a long high angle boulder field to come out on a flatter portion of the snow field and rejoined the CDT at Tincup Pass.

Wet but easy hike to Mirror Lake then up and up to the top of the ridge above Garden Basin where I hit another snow cornice.  This time I had to crawl the last eight feet using my poles as ice axes.  On top a fantastic green open summit ridge. Another great day!

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