The Citadel, Elevation 7,120ft

North Face: Grade II, 4th

September 1-2, 2001

2 days

Ben, Troy, Josh

Author: Josh Hummel

Looking back from Cathedral Pass. The Citadel is on the left and Circle Lake is in the center left basin. The East Summit of Mount Daniel is on the right.


Forecast: rain. What could we do? Jason was unwilling to go anywhere on account of the weather and other (yes this dreaded word) responsibilities. I was determined to go on a trip, as was Ben. It took some convincing to get Troy to go. The plan was to go fish at Circle Lake and climb either Mount Daniel or the Citadel.

I was still at the time living in good old Bellingham. I drove down early and met Ben at his now departed residence in Seattle. From there I hitched a ride with Ben to his brother’s new place in Tacoma. Once there both Ben and I crammed into Troy’s 250 Super Duty diesel and he drove us to the Mt. Daniel trailhead.

When we arrived we were all a little bummed due to the weather. It seemed that Jason and the weatherman would be right after all. I still had lingering hope that the storm would blow past.

The hike up went fast. I past the first lake in no time and a horde of wet campers, looking like they would rather be somewhere else. At Cathedral Pass I stopped to wait for Ben and Troy. In about 15 minutes they showed up. While there we took a break for food and from the storm. The weather was taking a turn for the worse, changing from rain to an all out hailstorm. I wanted to hike, but Ben insisted on waiting out the blizzard. So about a half an hour later we left our meager shelter, which consisted of a small tree, and took off down the well-beaten path. Soon we turned onto a less beaten path that led to Peggy’s Pond. We saw no people on the way and only 1 or 2 tents at Peggy’s Pond.


Troy climbing the ridge above Peggy's Pond.


From Peggy’s Pond we took an even less traveled path to Circle Lake. The hike from here involves a steep climb to an even steeper traverse. If you stay on the path the hike is easy enough, but if you stray you will pay. We made it to the lake in fairly good time, a little under 3 hours. The last time we visited Circle there was absolutely nobody in sight. We had the entire lake to ourselves and it was beautiful out. When we arrived it was rainy and windy and to top it all off, there were people, and not just a couple. We got along though and believe it or not, the weather started to improve.


The traverse to Circle Lake.


We set up camp quickly and began to fish. Ben was the first to nail one. Inspired by his catch on the first cast I set out to snag one of my own. It was not caught on the first cast, but I caught one in just shy of a half-an-hour. I had expected more so I changed strategies, that meant switching from one side of the lake to the other. My luck soon changed with two fish in a row and a couple close calls and one last one to top it all off. My hollers of joy did not go unnoticed to a group of campers getting some water close by as I was to discover the next day.

My dinner turned out to be a feast. I had brought three eggs and some potatoes and I had caught 4 fish, two of which I had kept. After dinner I snoozed and watched the day come to an end with a spectacular sunset over Mount Stuart. At last I went to bed.


Camp with Mount Stuart in the background.




Morning came with the sun heating up the tent to where I had no choice, but to get up and go about the day. The plan was to climb Mt. Daniel, but we felt lazy so we fished instead. After seeing one guy heading down from the Citadel we decided to go in that direction also. Before leaving, one of the campers who had seen me fishing yesterday asked if they could barrow one of our poles. Troy obliged them and offered the use of his pole and some tackle.


Troy heading towards the Citadel with Circle Lake below. Looks more like an oval to me. We camped near the outlet on the right.


Now the Citadel is a wonderful place to view the surrounding area. You can see four alpine lakes; Spade, Vicente, Venus, and Circle. You can also see Rainier, Stuart, and the three summits of Daniel. From Circle Lake the hike involves a scramble up a steep slope. After a little effort you reach a ridge just below the summit. The hike became somewhat of a race between Ben and I and the clock. We wanted to be at the top in a half an hour from the lake. We had two minutes to climb the 200 feet of rock. We made it in one while Troy took his time. Once at the top we enjoyed the view as described earlier. It was breathtaking!


Troy on the summit. This photo was taken the year before. Only one group had climbed it since then.


On the way down Ben took a couple of photos. The first was of Troy finishing off the first move. The second was of me doing a variation of the same move. Ben took it from a different vantage point and just as he was about to take the photo three rocks dislodged themselves from directly above me, two hit my legs and one hit my chest. I was able to cling to the wall and take the punishment. Afterward Ben took the photo and we headed back to the lake. Stupidity. Dumb luck.


Troy downclimbing.


Hmm. I wonder where those rocks came from?


At the lake the guys who had borrowed Troy’s fishing pole wanted to buy it. Troy didn’t want to sell his, but I offered mine for thirty bucks. We talked for a bit as we packed and then took off. The day was already closing quickly. I had to get back to Bellingham. It was nearly midnight when I finally did get home. All in all, a weekend well spent. I am glad I had cashed in on it and went rather than staying home like Jason, wondering where his weekend happy money had gone.