Black Peak - 8970' Miles: 11.5 Gain: 4500' Map: GT Mt. Logan # 49
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The four of us coming from the west would meet Neil at the Rainy Pass picnic area around noon.  With a relatively quick 4 hour hike to Wing Lake, there wasn't any need to start at the butt crack of dawn or hurry.

Trail # 740 starts near the entrance to the picnic area.  Gently graded and well maintained you'll reach the cut off for Lake Ann (1.6 miles) before you know it.  Continue on for another 3/4 mile or so and find the unmarked, but unmistakable junction for Heather Pass on the right.  The first views of Black Peak are here.

Follow the trail across the pass and then drop down a few hundred feet before climbing to Lewis Lake.  The trail stays mostly in the stunted trees near the creek but you will cross some open talus.  Not as bad as some TR's I've found seem to indicate.  

5700' Lewis Lake has color that can only be described by it's similarity to split pea soup.  Someone said dissolved silica was responsible.  Lots of greenish rock around so maybe that's the case.  At the east end of the lake, there is a large camp site and today it was occupied by a partially dismantled tent. 

We weren't sure what happened as the fly and parts of the body were shredded and gear, sleeping pads, bags and a backpack were hanging half in and half out of the tent or scattered all around the area.  Two large puncture holes in a plastic water bottle finally clued us in that this wasn't just an argument between climbing partners.   Bear alert.

We continued up the trail gaining the last 1200' to 6900' Wing Lake.  What a sight.  Also greenish colored Wing had a large ice sheet covering about 50% of the surface.  Black Peak loomed 2000' above looking quite formidable. Beautiful clear blue skies contrasting with all the different flavors and colors of granite filled the frame.

We found quite a few people were already camped at Wing Lake, but there are also lots of places to pitch a tent, so it didn't really seem crowded.  The best spots are a little further from the water up on the knolls at the east end of the lake.   We found a nice spot and circled the tents in an effort to be mutually supportive should a late night bear attack happen.   :)  By early evening clouds had begun to rise to the lake and we lost the view of Black Peak.
Up at 6:30a, we had hoped that the clouds might have gone away overnight, but no such luck.  As we ate breakfast and got ready to go, we were happy to see some thinning of the gray overcast and were hopeful that we might still have blue skies for the scramble.

Our route would take us from the lake to a saddle on the south ridge, north along the ridge or just off it to the west to the summit block with a final class 3 scramble to the small summit.

We made the saddle easily, mostly on talus, scree and snow.   Lots of loose stuff on this route.  Helmets are a fine idea. From the saddle turn north and follow the ridge crest until a step forces you into a gully just to the west (climbers left).  It starts out scree filled and unfun but the going gets easier and rockier as you near the summit block.  We climbed straight up from the head of  the gully (class 2) to the craggy top of the west ridge and traversed east below cliffs to where the NE Ridge ends at the summit block.  Nothing too difficult until you reach the last 60' to the summit.

We lounged around on top for a while hoping the clouds would lift, but they didn't.  We were joined by 4 roped climbers finishing the NE route.  Eight of us on Black's small summit seemed like a crowd so we headed down, reversing our ascent route.

Julie wasn't interested in scrambling on this trip and opted to explore around Wing Lake and the waterfalls nearby. She met us on the snow field as we were descending.  I think a good morning was had by all.

An uneventful but long hike back to the cars.  We would have liked clear skies for the scramble, but the clouds lingering into the afternoon helped hold the temps down and made the hike out more pleasant.  Parting company with Neil at the TH we made a bee line for Cascadian Farms between Marblemount and Rockport on Hwy 20, arriving in time to get a bowl of killer blueberry ice cream and a coffee for the drive home.

Black Peak is one I'd do again in a heart beat.  It has a lot to offer.  Easy access on good trails, fine camping opportunities, a beautiful setting and a challenging scramble to cap everything off.

Directions:
Drive US Hwy 20 to Rainy Pass, go right into the picnic area parking lot and locate the Lake Ann trail.  Approx. 3 hours from seattle.
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