Bootjack & Highchair Mountains
Gary and I had a great time scrambling these two
Icicle Creek peaks last summer. I didn't plan on a return trip so soon
but when I saw that Richard and Lynn were leading it as a Mountaineer
signed up. I drove around after Saturday in the Teanaway and camped at
Rock Island campgrounds. We were to meet at 7:00 AM which proved to be
a good thing. It was overcast, cold, and misty as we set out just
7:30. This was a strong group with mostly experienced climbers and
I quickly realized I had forgotten gloves and my camera and dashed back
to my car. The gloves had mysteriously disappeared since the day before
I had a pair of driving gloves I grabbed. I caught up with the group at
first clothing break.
The Blackjack Ridge trail is smooth and consistently graded but also
steep and relentless. There is one very short level section near the
but otherwise it goes steeply uphill. Still, the route is so nice that
it does not seem like it gains 3250' in only 3 miles. It was very cold
but with a hat and gloves and the effort of getting up that trail I
warm enough. As we began to move out of the forest snow was falling.
much but it was the first falling snow I had seen in months. Last year
section through a burn was awash in wildflowers. This year we were too
early. The snow melt seems to be about 4 weeks ahead of schedule and we
did this trip 3 weeks later last year but there were few flowers. The
one was glacier lilies. On the entire trip we crossed only a few small
We reached the crest of Blackjack Ridge in a cold white cloud. Nearly
everything was hidden by the clouds. We couldn't see the summit of
Bootjack but much of the ridge was in the clear. After a short break we
started up the ridge towards Bootjack. The ridge walk is mostly on
grass and dirt. Only
the very top has any rock scrambling and this is short and easy. For a
time a small ray of sunshine shone on us through the clouds. From the
of Bootjack we could see Highchair. At least it was not in the clouds.
base of Stuart was discernible but most of the mountain was draped in
With our early start it was only just after 10:00. At this point I
I had managed to lose my second and last pair of gloves available for
weekend. It's a good thing my head is stuck on tight.
I was the only one to have done this trip so I took the lead heading
down the ridge towards Highchair. I made one misstep trying to go over
the first bump (around the first to the left and over the top of the
then the route went great. We soon dropped down to the rocky ridge
over to Highchair. Some folks contoured well below the crest and some
us managed to stay on the crest nearly all the way. The clouds were now
lifting and views began to improve. Once across the ridge we dropped
to the left into a basin. Last year it was filled with shooting stars
this year there were few flowers yet.
Once through the basin we headed straight up for the summit, some 800'
above. We climbed some large boulders and reached the ridge top just a
few hundred feet below the top. From there it was an easy walk to the
summit. The wind was blowing while crossing the ridge but it was nearly
calm on the summit. By the time we reached the top the clouds had
lifted considerably. The Cradle was just across the valley and in the
It's east side was still heavily snow covered. The summit of Mt. Stuart
in the clouds but Ingalls Peaks on one side and Argonaut Peak on the
were clear. Harding Mountain is among the closest and most interesting
we saw. I reached the summit at 12:00 and we must have spent an hour
Soon enough we packed up and headed down. We avoided the boulders and
had an easy descent on dirt and grass back into the basin. From
there we again crossed the rocky ridge and took a head count before
continuing the last 600 vertical feet up the ridge and back to
Bootjack. We arrived at 3:15 and a quick count showed we were two
hikers short. How we lost
someone on an easy grassy ridge walk was hard to figure. After 15
of waiting and yelling four of us headed back down the ridge. I had
gained 5600' and did not relish dropping down once again.
With our early start we at least had a lot of daylight left. We dropped
to the first bump and yelled but heard nothing. At the second bump we
yelled and several of us thought we heard a very faint response. It
be from farther down the ridge so on we went. We soon reached the start
of the rocky ridge. Everyone had been accounted for this far coming
A yell received a faint but definite response from even farther down
ridge. Frank and I took the lead as we rapidly scrambled back across
rocky ridge. We were most of the way across when we heard and saw our
twosome. They were fine and heading our way. I never did find out what
them to cross the ridge then turn around and head back towards
The good news was that they were fine.
The sun was now out and that last 800' back up to Bootjack for the
third time was tough. We were all running out of gas. By the time we
again reached Bootjack it was 5:15. Our search took two full hours.
Finally we began
the 3900' descent. I can't believe any of us made it down without sore
legs. I reached the car at 7:15. The last people came out at 7:45. It
out to be a little more of an adventure than I had planned on. It was
to see Richard, Lynn, Jay, and Lindy again. After a cold and bleak
the weather was actually pretty nice most of the day. Views ended up
very good. I made it home at 10:30 after a 13 miles and 6400' gained
It was another fun scramble.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Lynn And Clouds
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2005