August 1, 2009.
After getting some water, a snack, and a little break from being on our feet for the past two days, we arrived at Chinook Pass ready to take on one last challenge: Naches Peak. The summit of Naches is less than a mile and about 1000 vertical feet from the parking area at the PCT. It was a hot afternoon. The sun was blazing. There were people everywhere. I strapped my camera and a small water bottle to a daisy chain and slung it over my shoulder for the walk up. Rick took the lead as he turned off the main path up a climber’s trail that wove its way up the steep meadows of Naches Peak. The path was braided in several spots, so we had some routefinding snafus on the way up to the northwest ridge. We followed the ridge to its rocky top. A small gap in the ridge is where Rick had gotten held up on his past two summit attempts. After climbing some really sketchy class 4 and low class 5 rock on Forbidden the previous weekend, I quickly assessed the possibility of a downclimb and traverse to the summit. It looked easy. Facing into the rock, I stepped down on two or three good ledges to reach the bottom of the notch, then skirted around a longer and more exposed ledge to the right in order to reach the ramp leading to the summit from the other side of the ridge. From there it was a piece of cake. Rick followed me over, and Dan decided to head back down into the shade to wait for us. The summit is large enough for several people to stand on. It offers nice views of Rainier and the pass. We enjoyed a few minutes of glory before going back down.
Climbing up through the notch was far easier than downclimbing it. Now we just had the steep meadows to negotiate and we’d be back at the car. My half liter of water was disappearing quickly, so I was intent on getting back as soon as possible. We picked up Dan on our way down and made it back to the car in less than two hours total.