Prominence 522 feet

USGS Verlot


November 28, 2004

Party: Ian Mackay, Bruce Gibbs, Dick Kegel, Kal Brauner, Amy Carlson, Ish Wood, Sally Pfeiffer, Karl Huber, John Roper


The day after climbing this, I found the following [write-up below in blue], typed 8½ years ago now, apparently right before Karen, Aaron (age 2.7 then), and I went to Lake Twentytwo to celebrate Long John Plimpton's 50th birthday, with sights set on this summit.


Peak 3802--Calamity/Piece of Cake Hill from Lake 22

June 2, 1996 on John Plimpton's 50 th Birthday


On that day, from Lake 22, looking south, the north wall of the east peak of Pilchuck, and the three Pilchuck Pinnacles looked pretty dang nice. This summit was a different story.


The following was written in anticipation of a trip report to Ann Marshall's Pack and Paddle (P&P) magazine in 1996.



(USGS Verlot)


One of the most popular hiking destinations written about in P&P is Lake Twentytwo. And for good reason. It's close. It's short. It's open early, and late. The hiking guides write about it. They are right. It's a great little hike--for kids, old folks, comrades, over-the-hillers, and just-getting-into-the-hillers.


That is why Trish, ‘Long John' Plimpton's wife, and kids, Katherine and Blair, chose this for his “ 50th Birthday Celebration Hike with Family and Friends ,” June 2, 1996. ‘Long John' is the latest Bulger to finish the Bulger 100 Highest Peaks in Washington List (on Dorado Needle, June 25, 1995), and thus, the 10th human in the whole world to accomplish this.


So, Lake 22 reached (named because it lies in Section 22), and birthday celebrated, and the awesome 2400-foot north face of the east peak of Mt Pilchuck ogled, the old-time Bulgers needed something more to be able to call this a "real trip." The map answer was obvious. Above us was a 522-foot prominence peak, 3802 feet high (between Lake 22 and Heather Lake), unnammed on current maps, a summit we could appropriately honor "Old and Long” John with, and call on his birthday, a "Piece of Cake" (by Bulger standards).


So out of the original birthday revelers of “tbd” to Lake 22, we enticed an elite commando-party of “tbd” gullible folks to try this previously unrecognized summit. The rest of the story will depend on what we discover.....]


Aaron Roper (in front) with Blair and Katherine Plimpton

playing in Lake Twentytwo, 6/2/96.


That is the end of that 1996 story, since the trip to the top did not happen.

Now let's fast forward to

November 28, 2004…


Well, the rest of the story is this: I had forgotten that I'd previously regarded this summit this way, and I guess I was expecting some hardcore Bulgers to be at LJ's 50 th party to give this summit a try, but appropriately the celebration was more of a laid-back, friends-and-kids hike, picnic-and-swimming party, and being honest, Peak 3802 was kind of a grubby-looking, treed summit (photo above) when viewed from Lake Twentytwo. We did not do it then. Has/had anyone?


This summit came to mind again last week, still unrecognized to my knowledge, when Ian called, suggesting a mini-Bulger reunion in the actual mountains after the Top 100 city-get-together a few days before. Since most of us had done pretty much everything close up the Snoqualmie and Skykomish Rivers, 3802 got considered.



Our large party of nine gathered at the 1400' Heather Lake trailhead, the only two vehicles in a large, outhoused lot. Snow frocked the boughs here, but we opted to leave snowshoes in the cars, confident that the group punching-power was adequate. The summit-success plan looked simple on paper: Hike the trail (initially an ancient logging track) to 2000 feet, then head straight up the NW ridge for a total 2400-feet vertical to the top. Piece of cake. But in real life, the brush didn't look enticing at 2000 feet, so we continued to 2300', where we figured we needed to take the left dive into the trees, for sure, or get cliff-bound.

Kal and big cedar

This summit has no risk of becoming a Mountaineers' scramble classic, but once we left the trail, the enormous old-growth cedars and hemlocks that towered mystically above the snow-draped and slippery brush made the outing worthwhile. There were fleeting grumbles about the quality of this trip, the bushwhack, the less than 4000-foot summit, the lack of views, the cold, the wet, the snow down the back of the neck, etc., but near the top, spirits lightened a bit when we had quick vistas over to the bases of the S Fk Stilly peaks, albe'em enshrouded in clouds, with only Glacier Peak poking above it all. The north wall of Pilchuck was open briefly, and quite impressive, and the drop into Heather Lake was noteworthy.


Mount Pilchuck from Calamity Hill. Lookout top is right summit.


Calamity Hill' (hunching on lower left) from Mount Pilchuck

February 1, 1998, with "Eagle's Perch Towers" (per Kloke) above.


3¼ hours up, to an open flat for a leftover-turkey lunch on top, and a change into dry clothes.


Bruce, Kal, Dick (taking picture of me), Ian, Amy, Ish, Karl, and Sally on top of Calamity


We took various renditions (via three different party separations) down the up-route, finding maybe 20 cars in the lot on our return(s) on this cold, end of November day.


Had this 3802'/522-foot prominence summit ever been climbed before? Possibly not, we mused, hiding as it does, Verlot-ten in the shadow of Pilchuck, protected and ignored by brush and cliffs, an unimpressive wallflower, and showing no wear, no flags on our visit. But the steady swarms of families to its flanking lakes (Twentytwo and Heather), the century-ago mining push, the loggers, the western boundary of the “Lake Twentytwo Natural Research Area” (790 acres, established 1947) running right over the summit, make that speculation suspect. Who knows?


Well, Harry Majors knew, and wrote on 11/29/04:

“During June 18 to July 30, 1895, GLO surveyor Emery J. Hermans ran lines

along the north, east, and west sides of land sections 21 and 22 --- (see the

partial facsimile of his field map, appearing in "Monte Cristo Area" p. 36). As

can be seen from his map, in 1895 Hermans did run a line up the north side of

peak 3802 for half the length of land sections 21 and 22, to a point close to

the 3250-foot elevation contour.”


And the clincher from Harry Majors is:

“The first named individual I know to have climbed peak 3802 is geologist

Robert A. Wiebe (one of Prof. Joe Vance's students), who mapped the Mt.

Pilchuck pluton/stock during the summer of 1962 --- Robert A. Wiebe, "The Geology

of Mount Pilchuck" (1963, M.S. thesis in Geology, Univ. of Washington, 53pp.).


The geologic map accompanying Wiebe's thesis (p. 53) indicates that he ran a

line of strike-dip measurements up the north side of peak 3802, one of which

measurements (NW-SE, 75 degrees) was made at, or very nearly at, the summit of

peak 3802.” (Bold added)


End of story. 

...Well, not quite end of story. The internet is amazing. I sent this out on 12/1/04 and it got forwarded to Dave Fish, someone I've never met, who got back to me by copy with this.

"I went up that "peak" a couple of years ago from the Heather Lake trail and I did do a sketch map of it. It sounds like the same way John Roper went. Along the way is the largest (I mean this is absolutely the biggest) blowdown I've ever seen. Keep in mind the enormous cedar stumps along the trail at the beginning and now imagine that size tree sideways on the hill. It is overhead in height with deeply furrowed, weathered grooves along the trunk and could have been lying there when the area was originally logged. It may have been lying there a hundred years ago. That alone made the trip worthwhile."

And this is the fine pen-and-ink route map that Dave Fish did.  "Eaglet" was the name Dallas Kloke applied to "a small bump at the end of the ridge" in his "Winter Climbs" book, though Dallas is not now dead sure if he was referring to 3802 or the next bump up the ridge.  Call it what you want.  Our route went left into the "Old Growth" from the top of the highest switchbacks on the right.

Route map ©Dave Fish, with permission