Alpine Fever

Sibley Ridge

North Cascades, Washington

August 8 - 9, 2011

Dave and Darren

Darren watches the incoming clouds spill over lower Sibley Ridge making for a memorable sunset. Unfortunately, the clouds did not stay low and sunrise was less memorable.

It's getting harder to plan trips. After more than a decade in the North Cascades the low hanging fruit has been picked. If I haven't done the climb, then Darren has. Plenty of options exist for trips longer than a couple of days, but now that we're married with babies, mortgages, and other obstacles to enjoyment planning is required. Based on several trips gone awry earlier in the summer, I've concluded that the inflexibility of planning is just an invitation for foul weather. On this trip I was able to coerce Darren into a return trip to the Dorado Needle by convincing him that scenic alternative existed to approach the Eldorado Ice Cap. Jill and I had camped and hiked along Sibley Ridge a few years earlier, but due to poor visibility, could only guess at how beautiful it would be under high pressure.

As Darren and I ascended onto the ridge from Sibley Pass we both made numerous "oooh, aaahs." For two guys who had seen most of the best the Cascades had to offer this was a surprising reaction. A well-beaten goat path traverses along the top of the ridge for a mile before ending at the cliffs of the Triad. Airy walking along the precipitous ridge make the close-up views of Marble Creek Cirque seem that much more impressive. Peaks of the Ptarmigan Traverse stretch enticingly toward Dome and Glacier Peak. For some reason I have to point out the obvious whenever the Pickets come into view. Darren's reply was curt, but correct, "Who cares about the Pickets, the other views are so much better." Indeed, to my knowledge a better mile of path doesn't exist in the range.

Lacking map, preparation, or much brain power I convinced myself that a route to the Dorado Needle would go via the left side (north) of the Triad. Upon closer inspection the north side of the Triad was impassable so we returned to the ridge where Darren smartly read the route description. It said go right at the Triad. However, by this point neither of us wanted to leave the ridge, so we just decided to bivy right where we were. Tomorrow would have to be a long day to climb the Needle from our bivy, but I think a sixth sense may have convinced us that no climbing would take place on this trip.

That evening heavy clouds came in from the west making for great sunset pictures. The next day we awoke in pea soup and decided we didn't want to spend the day walking in circles on the ice cap. We descended through several layers of clouds to the car and decided, although the bivy on Sibley Ridge was memorable, we hadn't earned Good Food.

I've been trying to get a good photo of Marble Creek Cirque for several years. This view from camp will have to suffice.


Darren busies himself at the bivy on our misty mountain top.


Summer in the Cascades. Nothing better than, after dinner, laying back on the heather and watching the clouds interact with the peaks at sunset.


This was the last we saw of the sun. Beautiful, but the clouds ended up ruining our summit bid.

Alpine Fever