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Cascade Pass, Cache Col, Magic Mountain.

Jun 25, 2006

by Don Geyer last modified Sep 24, 2008 03:49 PM
Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Cascade Pass
Region: North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway
Agency: North Cascades National Park Visitors Center (Newhalem)
Avg Rating: 3.65
Be Aware Of
Water on trail
Snow on trail
Sahale-Buckner Panorama

With mountain bikes in haul, we drove up to the Cascade River Road in quest of a peak always previously passed on during the Ptarmigan traverse – Magic Mountain. The plan was to camp above Cache Col at a bivy site previously scouted.

To our delightful surprise, we arrived at milepost 21 to find an open gate, and continued on to the Cascade Pass TH parking lot where only a handful of cars resided.

The trek up to Cascade Pass was mostly snow free until near the final traverse. Moats are beginning to be a problem at several of the creek crossings.

After a short break at Cascade Pass, we ventured up the climbers trail toward Cache Col. The traverse was almost entirely on snow and steep in sections. We reached the Cache Glacier in about an hour and the col in another hour. The col was corniced, but easily circumvented to the left or climbed near the center.

Upon gaining the col, I immediately noticed fresh bear tracks on the cornice. I scurried up the climber’s path to the west and immediately saw the resident bear down slope. It was a cinnamon-blonde bear, and quite large. When it became aware of our presence, it began running uphill toward us! It maintained a rising traverse until disappearing into some thickets immediately below us. After a 3-4 hour nap, it retreated down into the wild valley.

We found an excellent bivy site on the ridge above the col and set camp. The night was warm, though slightly breezy, and afforded excellent stargazing.

An hour before sunrise we were visited by several mountain goats. Though skittish at first, they warmed up to us pretty fast and spent the remainder of the morning in the area, even after our departure.

The traverse from the col to the Hurry Up-Magic saddle was almost entirely on snow. Kool Aid Lake is just beginning to melt out near its outlet. Campsites to the north of the lake are still under snow, but several on the knoll to the west are melted out.

The south ridge of Magic is melted free and the climber’s route easy to follow. The snowfield on the east side has challenging moats to contend with - probably the crux of the climb. The rock sections proved pretty straightforward.

Climber in North Cascades
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