Fifes Peak, Elevation 6,800ft
West Peak: Grade I, 30 degree snow
December 25, 2001
Ben, Troy, John (dad)
Troy and myself on the summit of Fifes.
Fifes Peak isn't much of a climb. In the summer and fall it's a moderate day-hike. In the winter and spring it's a moderate snowshoe. Nevertheless, the possibilities for climbing do exist. I've seen some rather impressive chunks of ice on its south facing cliffs. Multipitch climbs have formed but I've never had the opportunity to check them out. The East Peak provides the only technical difficulties. We've always climbed the West, which if I'm not mistaken is slightly higher.
There is a viewpoint several miles west of the Bumping Lake turnoff along HW410. This provides the best winter access as well as some spectacular views. If it's clear you'll be able to tell whether or not it's worth bringing your ice tools. The cliffs themselves are impressive but most are rotten so don't bother bringing your rockshoes. There is a trailhead further east that might provide quicker access in the summer and fall. My parents snowshoe here a lot during the winter and spring so they would be the ones to talk to about shortcuts.
Dad, Troy and I left Yakima early Christmas morning for some family adventure. We once hiked, climbed or skied together nearly every weekend when Troy and I lived in Yakima. However, the cascades now separate us and our limitations have become skewed so we only get together once or twice a year, usually during the holidays.
We arrived at the viewpoint around 9am. There were no other cars which is usually the case in Eastern Washington. A Snow Park Permit is required at nearly every pullout along this highway so pay the permit or face the fine.
Troy decided to wear his plastic tele boots for some reason but dad and I wore heavy leather hikers. We strapped on our snowshoes and headed north. The summit was clouded beneath an inversion layer that had been plaguing us for days so we relied on dad's experience for direction. The first bit follows the Parker Creek drainage and is relatively flat. Troy was in the lead but dad took over as we crossed the creek and battled the steep slopes to the east. We eventually hit a ridge and followed it north. The ridge turned rocky so we abandoned it and traversed west to a valley. This valley led to an open slope below a large cliff. I thought the peak might be to our right but dad convinced me that it was to our left. We ended up traversing left.
Troy and dad traversing left below the cliff.
Sure enough, there it was. We climbed above the clouds and saw the West Peak to our left. I broke trail to the familiar saddle and continued up the open slopes towards the peak.
Dad and Troy above the saddle. The East Peak can be seen on the left. We approached from the right beneath the clouds.
It wasn't long before we reached the summit. The views were as spectacular as I had remembered. No amount of photos could portray the feeling though I tried my best.
One must take care not to stumble or wander too far west because there is a large cliff that extends from the summit. Falling off it would be most unpleasant. It's best to lay on your stomach if you want a peek.
Myself on the West Peak with the East Peak of Fifes in the background. This photo was taken in Spring 00.
Myself taking a peek of the West Peak in Spring 00.
I eventually set my camera down and finished off what little food and water I had brought. The sun did battle with the wind to keep me warm. It was getting late so we eventually left. Troy took off his snowshoes right away. Dad and I ended up getting rid of ours but only after a few good headers.
Troy on the summit with Rainier in the background.
Dad, myself and Troy.
I took one more photo before dropping into the clouds. We followed our tracks for the most part. I wished that I had brought my skis because the snow was perfect.
The Bumping Range. Great skiing by the way.
We made it back to the car around 4pm. The climb took longer than we had expected but it was a day well spent. Another benefit of staying with my parents is that I can always count on a good meal when I get home. This day was no exception. Definitely a Christmas to remember.