FKT: Alex Borsuk, Kaytlyn Gerbin - Ptarmigan Traverse (WA) - 2020-08-12

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
14h 2m 20s

Great day on possibly one of the best mountaineering traverses in the lower 48! We left Cascade Pass TH at 6:01am and made it to the top of the pass at a casual pace in 51:52. We encountered some sections of icy snow and scree (and a family of goats!) on the way to Cache Col that made traversing a bit tedious. Visibility here was also quite low, and we debated bailing on the traverse due to weather/conditions. We made it to Cache Col in 1:42.31. Red Ledge was simple to navigate and ascend as we took the scree to the right of the snow. The traverse to Middle Cascade Glacier was a mix of heather slops, scree, and snow, which again made traveling feel a bit inefficient. We still encountered low-vis/white out conditions as we ascended the glacier, and made it to the Spider-Formidable Col in 3:27:30. We threw on crampons for the descent down the col to Yang Yang lakes. From Yang Yang lakes, we had some issues with navigation, and started up the wrong gully. We descended a few hundred feet back down and ascended another gully of scree and heather, which worked well for us. We traversed towards the LeConte glacier, which was a bit icy. Glad we had crampons here. The glacier was straightforward to navigate. We made it to the pass above White Rock Lakes at 7:01:30. The scree here was awful to descend, and took us some time to navigate. Would be much easier to descend with snow. From White Rock Lakes, we traversed around the cirque and ascended to the top of the crest. We had some navigational errors here too which took a bit of time. We made it to the crest in 8:58:10, and navigated our way down some terrible scree down to Cub Lake area. The scree was tedious and time-consuming, and again, would be much better with snow coverage. From Cub Lake, we ascended to Cub Pass and made our way down the infamous bushwhack to Downey Creek Trail. The bushwhack was time consuming and we got lost a few times in the dense blackberry bushes and devil's club. We jogged from Downey Creek Trail to the parking lot, in 14:02:20. Personally, we feel this route could be done much faster and more efficiently with more snow coverage. We had an amazing day in a beautiful zone, moving fast enough to be mostly efficient, but casually enough to take in the magical views and respect the technical terrain.