Peak 12123
(near Glacier Divide)

10 Aug 1998 - by Tom Kenney

Peak 12,123', NE face to SE ridge, class 3 (near Glacier Divide)

This peak is the small dome-like point southeast of the lower Wahoo Lakes, and just southwest of the outlet of Muriel Lake. There is a long ridge rising from the outlet of Muriel Lake to where it connects with the northeast face of the peak. I set out from camp at about 3:00 PM one day, just to take a look...


I started up the ridge from Muriel Lake, and walked south up glaciated and broken black rock to where the ridge was partly blocked by a snow bank. From here, I descended a few feet to the left (east) and traversed a wide ledge a few feet south. A staircase of narrow, beautifully carved ledges lead up to the rounded ridge top. Zig-zagging up some more ledges, I gained a flat area just below the northeast face.

There were many ways to get into trouble on this face. There seemed to be many routes worthy of attention, but they all had at least one section of class 5 climbing. The lines of weakness were like parallel stairways, formed by the broken tops of huge exfoliation slabs. I finally saw a weakness leading to some promising ledges.

Moving to the left (east) below the face, I followed a huge ledge to a small snow patch below a triangular area of black rock (the peak is mostly white rock). I gingerly climbed the steep snow to the bottom of a narrow 'chute' through the right side of the black rock. Some tricky moves were required here to get over some detached blocks in the way.

At the top of the black chute, I worked to the right up big ledges and through whitebark pines. A steep headwall barred progress to the right, so I went left. I was now walking southeast along a huge ledge, a rather delightful catwalk just under the crest of the peak. Passing a break in the ledge, I finally reached a gap in the ridge above. Gaining the ridge, I was surprised at how the mountain was actually shaped. It seemed to be a thick dike of granite that was just too stubborn for the glaciers to move. The top of the ridge was a beautifully undulating glacial cut.

Turning northwest, I followed the ridge to the base of the final pitch to the summit. Here, the rock became multi-colored and more fractured. I trudged a ways up in small talus, then climbed a neat 40-foot face covered with knobs and chickenheads. The ridge tapered down to the narrow summit, then spread out descending to the northwest. I found a cairn atop the summit, but no register. I scratched my initials and the date on a small flat rock and placed it atop the cairn.

I went a short ways down to the northwest, where I found an interresting formation. There was a 'cavity' in the top of the mountain which resembled a long, broad hallway tilted 15 degrees askew. The end opened out onto the Humphreys Basin with a view like a tilted picture window.

Retracing my steps back to the southeast ridge, I decided to descend the southwest face instead. From here, all looked well. The face was a broad sweep of solid-looking ledges, mostly white or pinkish granite. This was a correct guess, and I had a great time, almost enjoying the descent more than the ascent. (This face, by the way, would make an excellent ascent route.)

The final slope of talus was a bit tricky, but I was soon down at the eastern shore of one of the upper Wahoo Lakes. I descended to the lower lakes, then turned east and returned to camp by Muriel Lake to be welcomed by voracious mosquitoes.

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