USGS Captain Point
“Thatsit Peak” 5498 feet/Prominence 458'
USGS Captain Point
April 21, 2007
Party: John Roper, Mike Torok, Ian Mackay, Jim Richards, Sofy dog
Thatsit Peak, center, from the east on Captain Point, taken August 30, 1990
This 5498-foot peak, one mile NE of Mount Fernow (the Skykomish one) is a real sleeper, but is about to be roused out of its slumber. It's an excellent late-spring scramble through old growth to great vistas.
Drive Beckler River Road north out of Skykomish to Raging River. Take a right here, then another immediate right on FS 6520 (the Johnson Ridge-Scorpion Mtn road). Drive this up, bypassing FS 6522 (which leads south across Johnson Creek to the Harlan Hills of Hell, a scarred chunk of land completely decimated by a wanton clear-cut, that appears to have been napalmed). We continued on 6520 until we were stopped by snow immediately before a sharp 2750' switchback reaching deep into Johnson Creek.
From the car, ignoring the switchback and heading up an overgrowing road, we soon left it to avoid the alders, angling shortly into nice timber. At about 3500', we rock-hopped to the south side of Johnson Creek and entered an open snowy clearcut good for step-kicking up to a logging spur at 3800'. Here the fun began as we arced up through grin-inspiring, old-growth on the NW ridge of Thatsit. Passing over a 5360+ north sub-summit, other than an occasional icy patch, the crux was a 5400' rocky knob immediately NE of the summit. This was bypassed by a delicate downclimb on climber's right. With lots of rests for the guy with pneumonia, it took us 6 hours up.
The summit is open and a great viewpoint to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks, the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, and to the rugged spires of what will hopefully soon become the Wild Sky Wilderness. This land is surely worthy.
Thatsit summit party, Fernow behind, April 21, 2007
Sitting glissades and plunge steps off the NW slopes of Thatsit brought us down to the pleasant valley of the Mount Fernow Potholes where the snow finally got soft enough to don snowshoes which were soon off again at Johnson Creek and a return via our entry route. 2 ¾ hours back.
Why is this peak such a sleeper? After our trip, I went back to look at slides I'd taken in its direction from the named peaks that encircle it—Fernow, Sunrise , Scorpion, and Captain Point. It's there, but it's barely noticeable, as Fernow so completely dominates the scene. Jeff Howbert was first to note the significance of this hidden treasure in the Bellevue Library a decade ago, as he poured over maps looking for peaks with 400-feet plus of prominence. Its first ascent was probably on October 15, 2001, when Steve Fox was scouting out abandoned trails around Captain Point with Jeff's info in hand. Our group thanks Fay Pullen who maybe did the second ascent of this peak just 4 days before our trip. She did it as a ski trip, making more use of logging roads into the Mount Fernow Pothole valley, and finished on the SW ridge. We crossed her ski tracks several times.