Permits: Pasayten Wilderness Pass (available at trailhead)
Route Name: Crater Mountain
Snow Level: 7800 ft
Elevation Gain: 6700 ft
Total Miles: 14.00 mi
Gear: We brought helmets for the scramble just in case, but probably not necessary. There was some loose rock on the scramble, but not too much.
From Trail Head to Summit: 5.0 hours
From Summit to Trail Head: 4.0 hours
Weather: Beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky (okay there was one).
Claire and I kicked off the day from the trailhead at 8:30am. The trail starts off wandering through a few nice river camp sites and then crosses two creeks (the first has a big bridge, the second we had to wade across). From there, many many switchbacks up through the lush forest made the trail gain quickly, but at a nice steady climb. We saw some backpackers on this section of the trail since it is part of a popular backpacking loop, Devils Dome. We made it to the lake in just under 3hrs, which at this point in the season was a shallow silty lake but with a nice stream flowing off it for water fill up. From here you have a great view of Crater summit.
After a quick lunch (and breast pumping break for me;) we continued climbing up the meandering trail towards the peak. Bright flowers dotted the landscape. We arrived at the base of the scramble, decently marked with yellow painted x and arrows. Its a bit of a treasure hunt to distinguish the markings from the lichen, but a fun adventure. There are only a few sections of brief minimal exposure with great hand and footholds all the way. One more quick segment of trail, passing the remnants of the old fire lookout (crazy there was one here) and you arrive at the summit! The views are spectacular of the North Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness. Baker looked stunning. Claire pointed out Snowfield and Colonial (which she summited a few weeks prior).
After a nice beer, snack and pump break, we headed back down. The scramble descent was fairly pleasant and easier route finding than the way up. As we popped back on the trail, we commented on how fun of a climb Crater is, not quite remembering how much elevation we still had to descend. After passing the lake, the switch backs seem to go on and on and on. The final creek crossing felt so good on the feet and since the car was so close, we chose to go barefoot the last 10min of the trail. We got back to the car just after 6pm. Definitely work out on the legs but a fun climb overall!
Wildlife seen: forest chickens (grouse) and marmots