McGee Pass 2019

Franklin Lake to Purple Lake

Monday, August 19, 2019

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Our original plan involved a crossing of Pika Pass today with camp at Pika Lake.  Just past Ram Lake where we could first see the pass we decided not to attempt it.  Although it is class 2 the south side has a bad reputation and we were tired from crossing two passes the last two days.  Instead we tried some undocumented terrain that probably ended up being more effort than crossing Pika Pass would have been!  From the point where we could see Pika Pass, we also looked down valley and noticed a lower pass (called Pass 11100 here) that crosses the ridge between Purple Lake and Duck Lake.  From the map, it looked like it might be ok on both sides, so we decided to go for it.  The first problem was that we tried to avoid losing too much elevation by traversing across a loose talus field to the north of Purple Creek.  This was a mistake, it would have been easier to follow the trail (not shown on the map) down to Purple Lake and then head up the grassy slope to its north.  But we finally made it over to the grassy slope and headed up.  First part was steep, then it leveled out and we made it to the high point.  Unfortunately the north side was quite steep with gullies filled mostly with snow.  One gully (last picture below) had a strip of snow-free on one side but it just looked too steep and loose to the point of being too dangerous, so we decided to turn around and head to Purple Lake to camp for the night with the mosquitos.

Journal Entry:  Started at 9 or so.  Just a few mosquitos at our camp.  Headed downhill past a few lakes, then to Ram Lake, where we saw another hiker who had also come over Pretty Pass.  Continued on to the lower lake, then took a look at our first view of Pika Pass.  Decided not to try for it.  Instead we tried a pass over the ridge between Purple Lake and Duck Lake, at about 11,150 ft.  We took talus and loose rock up a slope toward the turn, would have been much easier to take the trail down to Purple Lake and then head up a grassy slope.  We reached the grassy slope finally at about 10,500 ft. and headed up.  300 ft. of steep followed by 300 ft. of more gradual uphill brought us to the pass.  Unfortunately the other side was too steep for our comfort, so we turned around and headed back to Purple Lake.  Nice views at the top of Duck Lake and Pika Lake at least!  Got here after 5, mosquitos are horrible!  Now we’re a day ahead, will figure a plan tomorrow.  Only sure thing is we’re leaving here!

Franklin Lake and view north

mossy creek above Ram Lake

Ram Lake

Ram Lake

Ram Lake with Pika Pass

Pika Pass from south

flowers still in bloom at Ram Lake

view west from near Ram Lake

view east from talus field

Purple Lake in the valley

final approach to Pass 11100

Purple Lake from north

view south from just below Pass 11100

Duck Lake from Pass 11100

view south from Pass 11100

Duck Lake and Pika Lake from Pass 11100

steep slope on north side of Pass 11100

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