It is time to get back to summer mountain scrambling. I got the short summer season rolling by checking off the last portion of the high Swan crest that I had not yet seen. It was a great day, and it was good to finally summit the beautiful Union peak, which is the last of the major peaks on the Swan crest that I had not previously climbed.
I started the day by biking the easy 6-mile shuttle and following the good climber's trail to Pony lake. I jumped up onto the ridge at the lake, although in retrospect it might have been quicker to bushwack a little farther up the drainage. The climb of Union peak was straightforward and fun. There were a lot of slow sections between Union and the crest, and it took about an hour more than expected to reach the Swan crest. In retrospect, I should have hopped down on snow and passed the slow sections on the North.
|Nearing the final ridge to Union peak. Pony lake in the background.|
The first few peaks of the crest were fast, clean, and fun. The South ridge of the highest peak is steep and cliffy, and it took quite a bit of route sleuthing, some very solid 4th class downclimbing, and lots of scree and choss management to make it down. To my surprise, the next section of ridge was steep and scary, so I bypassed it on the East. In retrospect, I think it might be better to take the easiest Southeast gully off the high peak, bypass the technical ridge section, then climb back to the crest for the last two peaks.
|Looking out along the best part of the ridge from the crest.|
|Looking back at the first half of the ridge.|
|Steep snow, with the tricky Southwest face of the high peak behind.|
The remaining traverse to Smith creek pass was fast and enjoyable. I had an extra few minutes, and used all of them summiting Cooney peak, which adds about half an hour over just heading down the trail from the pass. The 5 mile trail run out was downfall free and a blast. I did take one tumble, shattering the screen on my cheap camera. This is why I have always just used cheap digital cameras.
|Fun, fast travel near the pass.|
|On Cooney, ready to head home.|