Saturday, July 28, 2012

Eagles Beak, Frigid Lake, and Moomaw Glacier via Thunder Lake.

I must admit that after my last exceptionally long and difficult hike, it has taken me some time to motivate to spend a whole day back out there.  It took me some time to physically, and more importantly, mentally recover.  But this week I felt the inexorable pull of the mountains.  I knew I had to get back.
Still on my list were the three destinations listed above, all very close to each other, and all very far from the trailhead.  I had passed by them last year when I did Tanima Peak and the Cleaver.  So close, yet so far away. 
Mt. Alice as seen from Thunder Lake.
I started out shortly after six am on Thursday, July 26 from the Wild Basin trailhead.  With my goal being near Thunder Lake, I took the campsite trail shortcut, meeting back up with the Thunder Lake trail at the sign post pictured at the top. 
Tanima Peak from Thunder Lake. 
Mt. Alice and Pilot Mountain seen from Thunder Lake.
Click on this photo and look for the small splotch of white in the middle.  This is the waterfall exit from Falcon Lake seen here.
After getting to Thunder Lake, I crossed the outlet and headed back east to swing around Tanima, eastern face seen here.  On my way out, I stumbled across the trail that leads around it.  On my way back I stayed on it for as long as possible to try to tell you where you could find it.  I don't have an answer unfortunately, as it seemed to peter out.  My advice would be to follow the curve of Tanima without getting up too high on it.  If you are and face cliffs or something else you can't pass, head downhill and hopefully you will run into the trail.
Made it to Box Lake.  A very pretty and secluded destination in its own right.
Moving above Box Lake.
The first sight of my highest goal for the day- Eagles Beak.
Eagles Beak as seen from Eagle Lake.
Looking down at Box Lake and Mount Meeker in the background.
I think this might be my favorite landscape photograph I have ever taken.
The written directions in the book from Eagle Lake up seemed to be in conflict with the directions outlined on the map.  The directions say to skirt the south side of the lake before heading up the cliff over boulders.  The trail on the map seemed to follow the drainage from Frigid Lake uphill from the west side of Eagle Lake.  In the name of research, I took one way up and one way down.  I saw these interestingly shaped krumholtz as I made my way east to the south side of Eagle Lake.
I followed the grass and rock ramp up below the obvious cliff face on the south side of the lake.  Not a bad hike.

Moving above Eagle Lake, Box Lake visible as well.
Eagle Lake from above.  Beautiful color, crystal clear water.
Once I got up to elevation, the going was pretty easy.  Some brush to contend with, but nothing major.  It was easy to avoid for the most part.
A second picture of the week?  Eagles Beak seen from the two unnamed ponds to the south of it.
The waterfall exits from Frigid Lake.
Frigid Lake and Moomaw Glacier, named for former Park Ranger Jack Moomaw.
According to the map and description, this is not actually Moomaw Glacier.  But there was very little snow where it sounded like it should be.  But it looks like this whole snowfield is connected, so maybe it is?  A good view anyway.  And yes, Frigid Lake did live up to its name. 
As you approach Eagles Beak, you will come to this gully first.  Continue on.
The spine of rock in the middle separates the gully you want to take (left) from the one you don't (right).
The ascent is steep and there is a little bit of loose stuff, but you are solidly in third class territory, with good holds for hands and feet the whole way up. 
Top out and head east over some second class rock to gain the true summit.
Frigid Lake seen from Eagles Beak.
Looking south to Mahana Peak with Copeland just poking its head out.
Looking east to Eagle Lake, summit of Eagles Beak in foreground.
Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker seen from Eagles Beak.
Yours truly at 12200 feet.
I was looking around up here and marveling at how much of the surrounding area I have hiked.  I can now look around and say, "been there, been there, been there."  I found it remarkable that I descended this scree slope last year.  Looks worse than it is I guess.
The Cleaver seen from Eagles Beak.
After taking a few minutes to look around, I started back down.  It was a bit easier at times to descend belly into the cliff as I went up.
Frigid Lake, Mahana Peak, Moomaw Glacier.
Eagles Beak seen from heading down.  To get back I essentially followed the 'drainage' of Frigid Lake down the steep scree slope.
I eventually found myself in a gully above this snowfield.  I descended and tried to find a way around, but couldn't.  I decided that even though I didn't bring my ice axe or really have any other way to slow myself, I should just go ahead and glissade down.  Maybe a mistake, as I got going pretty quick and am sore from hitting the rocks at the bottom.  I am glad I was not seriously injured.
The final little waterfall from Frigid Lake into Eagle Lake.
Back up with Eagles Beak prominent. 
It was pretty warm, and I decided maybe I would try a dip in the lake.  I got in to knees and could feel my feet quickly numbing, so I thought actually swimming was out.  But the cold water did feel good.
You pass under this boulder on the way up and back.  I guess most barely look at it, but it holds a very hard boulder problem established by Tommy Caldwell called Spread Eagle v11.  The sit start all the way to the left in the seam is a as of yet unclimbed v14ish.
I heard this waterfall on my way up and decided to head over to it on my way back.  It is the exit from Eagle Lake before it meets up with Box Lakes runoff to make Mertensia Falls.
Pretty neat, and if you are in the area, only a short off trail hike to get to.

There!  It took me three tries to get myself not blocking the falls.
You can climb right up next to it.  Looking down.
And closer.
To get to it, simply look for this area before you hit the Spread Eagle boulder...
Look left or south, and...
Skirt along this cliff face until you run into the falls!
This is the view you'll have to the west before you turn south to get to the falls.
Looking back...
Some Porcini mushrooms growing wild near Box Lake.  Looks like the local critters like them also.

Taken from the trail back to Thunder Lake.  The drop off here is steep.
I saw this little nonfunny bunny or unsilly rabbit on my way back down the campsite trail.
This was a really awesome hike and I felt pretty good the whole day.  If you are like me and like spending a day in a place where you will likely see no one else and get some great, great views, then this is a hike you should add to your list.  The peace, quiet, and solitude make this one that I will not forget anytime soon, and hopefully return to in the near future.
Eagles Beak, Frigid Lake, Moomaw Glacier:
Frigid Lake: 8 miles one way, 3320 foot gain.  Strenuous.
Moomaw Glacier: 8.2 miles one way, 3820 foot gain(depending on where you define it being, these numbers will be less).  Strenuous.
Eagles Beak: 8.3 miles one way, 3700 foot gain.  Second and third class to the top.  Strenuous+.