Reply To: Ingalls North Peak June 24
During the weekend with the longest days of the year, it is difficult to wake up before sunrise. And as one of the most northern points of the contiguous United States, Seattle provides a particular challenge to the pre-dawn adventurer by bearing one of the earliest sunrise times in the nation. Yet just two days after the Summer Solstice, nine of us broke the barrier of what helioseismology thought impossible by rising before the 5:12am daybreak to embark on what would be an all-day epic.
The lionhearted Mike Daly was organizing the very first post-class climb for Washington Alpine Club’s Basic students, just a week after a dignified graduation atop the state’s third tallest peak, Mt. Baker. Who would be bold – or foolish – enough to sign up for yet another summit a mere 168 hours after the last?
Three cars answered our question just before 8:00am on Sunday the 24th of June. Four students and five instructors had appeared to attempt a ceremonious summit on the first weekend of summer. Trekking poles in hand, and packs donned, our group set off from the Esmerelda Basin Trailhead into the high alpine.
A pleasant single-track trail led us to Ingalls Pass, where views of Mt. Stuart and the southern Enchantments hit us like a freight train. Jaws and packs dropped, and we soaked in the high alpine sunshine for a brief refreshers before reorienting ourselves towards the day’s objective. The well-covered snowfield offered us a “choose your own adventure” style of navigating where we meandered through scrambly bits of rock and steep snow slopes to the base of the south-facing climb.
Fede led the first pitch fearlessly, placing protection with a cool confidence that washed over the rest of the group. He set the tone for the success to come. Matt followed, his newly-acquired sport leading skills paying off on the big wall – big time. I cleaned behind the two, hoping I could shadow their moves in as diligent and artful a fashion as they.
At the top of the first pitch, Wesley crested the crack hauling twice her body weight worth of rope drag. Her muscles shone through her windbreaker as she towed the heavy heap of rope, barely breaking a sweat. Quickly and adeptly, she was belaying her followers Mike and Kaiwen, who flew up the face with ease.
While I did not have much interaction with the final group of all-ladies, their energy was contagious from two teams away. Linnet led with a spirit that soared, followed by the skill and ease of Kelly – a strong contender for the coveted ICC roster. Bess fulfilled the final group with a naturally contagious smile and the promise of home-baked summit goods that did not disappoint.
Eventually, and on our own times, each of the nine of us stood atop the summit of 7,662’ Ingalls Peak, cherishing the glory of our newfound mountaineering skills, and appreciating the companionship of our new climbing partners. 18 weeks ago, we were counting down the days until we would have our own free time to do what we wanted with our weekends off. Yet here we stood together, doing exactly what we had been mercilessly trained to do over the last four and a half months, willingly, eagerly, choosing to share more of these moments together.
The descent was littered with laughter, camaraderie, and lighthearted joy as we felt the sun dip in and out of ridgelines, a reminder of Washington’s endless summer nights. All aside, it was a beautiful day, free of flaws, spent in the remarkable and refreshingly remote Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Hearts full, and summit hunger satisfied, we retreated from the trailhead for the long sojourn back to the city, where we would lie our heads down to sleep, dreaming of the next WAC outing.