wanted to scramble up Fortune
Peak in the Teanaway. Kim wanted to do a more strenuous hike high in
the mountains. I had not done it since 2006. Fortune is a fun scramble.
I have been up it half a dozen times and never by the same route. For
this trip I planned to head to the ridge above Lake Ann and scramble up
from there. The amount of snow was a bit of a mystery. We brought ice
axes but no snowshoes. We met in Bellevue at 7:00 am and headed east.
By Cle Elum and up Highway 970 to the NF Teanaway road. The first mile
of dirt after the end of pavement is full of pot holes. It gets better
after that. We cruised into the 4300' parking lot at the end of the
road to find it only a little more than half full at 9:05 am. We were
soon on our way.
I expected the many creeks along the Esmerelda Basin Trail to be
running high. I was not disappointed. With gaiters on I stomped through
them with dry feet. We found a good assortment of wildflowers in bloom.
not the color that will be out in a few weeks but not bad. Lots of
shooting stars were in bloom. There was some snow down low in the
shaded area near and across the creek. The bulk of East Esmerelda Peaks
block out the sun most of the day. The trail only had patches near the
first switchback and in places above that. After two miles at
the 5300' level we lost the trail under several feet of snow. It was
not completely snow covered ground as higher on the slope it was much
thinner with dirt showing through.
We decided to angle uphill rather than try to find and stay on the
summer route. At first the going was very easy. The forest is quite
open and the snow deep enough to provide for easy walking. As we
climbed the slope began to steepen. Rather than side hill around to the
basin the trail ascends to the pass above Lake Ann, we chose a more
direct uphill route. Some steep climbing on snow and then dirt brought
us to a large bench. We now angled to our left on better terrain. We
were soon back on snow. It was deep and hard enough to avoid post
holing but soft enough to kick solid steps. We traversed around to a
ridge and could have dropped down to the basin now below. Instead we
traversed the slope on snow and scree patches hoping to intersect the
ridge leading to the summit of Fortune. This was a much different route
than I had down before.
We reached some steep snow slopes where it was prudent to take out our
ice axes. After those one last snow climb did in fact take us to the
correct ridge. The wind was blowing hard but the sun was shining. It
was warm out of the wind and not so much in the wind. Kim decided that
this 6500' viewpoint was a good spot to enjoy while Gwen and I went for
the summit. Kim did very well for her first snowy off trail hike of the
year. I had to put on a jacket due to the wind. I don't like steep
scrambling in a jacket but it was too windy to not have it on. I had
only been up the ridge not down and that was eight years ago. The boot
path is mostly visible. The route goes on or just right of the ridge
all the way up. The GPS recorded 800' of gain in .50 miles to the
The scramble was a lot of fun. Some loose rock and a few moves to avoid
snow on the route. Be moving a little closer to the crest of the ridge
we did not have to cross any snow. The steepest parts are near the
bottom. After about 50+ minutes we reached the top. The rocks were all
bare. No summit register to be found. I was a little surprised to not
see any tracks on snow around the top. We were certainly the first on
top this day. It had only been three weeks since we summited Iron Peak
but the view of Mt. Stuart showed a whole lot less snow. Ingalls Lake,
right below us, was still frozen over. The gap in the ridge of
Esmerelda Peaks showed snow covered Gallagher Head Lake. . Fortune Peak
is a very nice viewpoint.
We spent about 30 minutes on top admiring all the views. Unlike most of
the ridge coming up the summit breeze was much more gentle. When we did
start down it did not take long to get back into the teeth of the wind.
The steep ridge is a bit of a knee cruncher. We made a little better
time, getting back to the bottom in 42 minutes. All in all, we took two
hours to get up and back down. Kim seemed to be enjoying the views and
the wispy clouds blowing by. We took a break and then headed down.
Rather than retrace our steps with all the side hilling we followed the
ridge towards the saddle where the summer trail crosses over. Before
the saddle, we headed straight down the slope. The snow was soft enough
our glissade attempts were pretty pathetic. Still, we had to try.
Walking down the snow was pretty easy. We headed straight down just
east of the summer route. This trip proved to be a great hike but an
electronic disaster. The day began with me picking up my pack and boots
at home and walking out with my camera on the living room floor. I had
charged my phone battery so at least I had a back up camera. I did
until we reached the trailhead and my fully charged battery showed
almost no juice left. Strike two. All photos for this trip are courtesy
of Gwen Tollefson who had the only operating camera. Kim put a memory
card in her camera that morning and it would not work. She left the
camera at home. When she returned home it worked perfectly. Gwen's
altimeter watch screen was blanking out and coming back all day long. I
tried to coax a few photos out of my phone and it froze up entirely. I
could not even turn it off. When I returned home it worked once again.
It was a strange day.
The last piece of electronics was my GPS. My rock solid GPS. On the way
up it threw in an 87.5 mile outlier point. It thought we traveled
that distance in 9 seconds. That 34,000 mph trek messed up our average
speed for the day. Coming down from the saddle I expected to use the
GPS to track the summer trail and find it even under many feet of snow.
That did work until the map suddenly disappeared. We could navigate
fine without the GPS but it did make it easier to find the dirt trail
once again. Lower down the map mysteriously reappeared. We dropped
down and found the summer trail on the long switchbacks below the
junction to Fortune Pass. We were on and off snow until we reached the
bare trail where we lost it in the morning.
The rest of the way back was easy as the trail is very gently graded.
The creek crossings seemed to be even a little deeper than earlier but
in the last few miles dry feet are not so important. We reached the
parking lot at about 6:15 pm. There were still 8 or 9 cars. Some folks
likely were camping. This was a fun day. Some easy trail, some off
trail scrambling, and a steep ridge scramble to a great summit
viewpoint. I have enjoyed all the various routes I have taken up
Fortune Peak. Due to the late hour we stopped in Cle Elum for dinner
making this a 16+ hour day hike from door to door.
All photos courtesy of Gwen Tollefson.
NF Teanaway River
Fortune Peak In Sight
Kim Crossing Creek
Steep Off Trail
Back On Snow
Summit Ridge Ahead
More Snow Travel
Traversing Talus Field
Crossing Thin Snow
South Ingalls Peak
Jim On Summit
Gwen Atop Fortune Peak
Kim On Ridge
Scouting Way Down
Flowing Snow Melt
Click on thumbnails to get