Snowfield Peak - Neve Glacier Route

I knew since visiting this area in August of 2001 that I would be back. On my previous trip to this area the objective was Snowfield Peak but I settled for Pyramid Peak which is far more impressive when viewed from Highway 20. I was not here only because I have some unfinished business here but also because of the remote alpine nature of the area. Perhaps remote isn�t the right word since you are really only a couple of miles from a major Highway� let�s just say that getting there is the hard part.

The approach starts at the Pyramid Lake Trailhead where the well travelled 2.1 mile trail to the toilet bowl shaped and sized Pyramid Lake (ca.2600�) begins. Once at the lake a far less traveled path on the south side of the lake continues. Once on the east side of the lake the path quickly becomes steeper as it climbs to gain the East Ridge of Pyramid Peak at ca.4000'. Once on the ridge the path follows near the crest passing a few small ponds then arrives at a small talus field and a steep rock (class 2-3) and dirt slopewith slide alder. Once over this obstacle the path passes point 4555' then reaches another rocky area where the trail becomes difficult to follow. Traversing around the rocky area on the right side seems to be the best way to handle this section. Once relocating the path on the other side we continued along near the crest then on the right side. Eventually we lost the path altogether in deep snow and followed a gully back to the ridge crest then traversed to the base of the steep cliffs of Pyramid Peak (ca.5700'). From the base of the peak we had to make a short descent and then traverse, mostly on snow at this time of year, to the terminal moraine and lake of the Colonial Glacier where we set up camp.

The NW view from the East Ridge of Pyramid Peak

The following morning we roped up and departed camp around 7:00. The first objective is to gain the obvious Colonial-Neve Glacier saddle (ca.6840').Getting there involved circling around the moraine lake and some 30 degree snow.

Ascending the Colonial Glacier with Paul Bunyans Stump, Pinnacle Peak and Pyramid Peak behind

From the saddle a 250' descent was necessary to reach the Neve Glacier. Travel on the Neve Glacier was straight forward. There were a lot of crevasses but none of them were big or difficult to negotiate. The goal was to reach the ridge between Snowfield and The Horseman (ca.7700').

Snowfield Peak from the Colonial-Neve Glacier Saddle

Once on the ridge we dumped the rope and began hiking up the ridge toward Snowfield. After about 300-400 vertical feet progress up the ridge was blocked so we traversed left into a gully. We ascended this gully to the top and discovered that we needed to go down a few feet and cross over the rib on the left side of the gully (climbers left). Once over the rib (class 3), ledges continued toward the summit with some final steeper scrambling to the summit (class 3/4).

Ty scrambling near the summit


Backbone Ridge from the summit of Snowfield Peak


The Klawatti group from the summit of Snowfield Peak

We downclimbed from the summit back to the rope and tied in before retracing our steps back across the Neve and up to the saddle where we decided the rope served no purpose other than to interfere with the glissade down the Colonial Glacier. Once back at camp we packed up and began the descent. We were back at the car by 4:00PM and at Good Food by 5:00PM.

Ascending back to the Colonial-Neve Glacier saddle with The Horseman and The Needle in the background


Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 2, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Page275, 277-279
Selected Climbes In the Cascades, Volume II, Second Edition; Jim Nelson and Peter Potterfield; Pages 157-160