Peak(s):  Pagoda Mountain  -  13,497 feet
Date Posted:  09/26/2020
Date Climbed:   09/25/2020
Author:  ziemkem
 Crescent Ridge   


We chose to camp at Sandbeach Lake the night before our climb. It's really a gem of a spot and should be on any backpacker's list of short stays. We rose early-ish and left the lake at 5:47. From this approach we backtracked about 900 feet on the trail until there was a visible but faint diversion north from the trail which we spotted on our approach the day before. Our 2+ hour bushwhack began here. I used a GPS watch to set two waypoints between our departure from the main trail and the other side of the basin for our return.

We made our way due NE to meet Hunter's creek. Previous reports told of terrible deadfall in the heart of the basin so we opted to meet up with Hunter's Creek and hug the eastern edge of the basin where there are intermittent trails. We had pretty good luck and enjoyed mostly open navigating through meadows and forest. The image below is a rough drawing of our route.


Sunrise in the meadows heading up.

20749_08Crescent peeks at you on and off throughout the approach.

Crescent comes into view.

The fifth class climbing begins relatively quickly. We scrambled up to a somewhat wind-shielded section where things get serious to gear up.

The objective looms behind.

Our rack: 1 standard set stoppers, 2 #1 camelots, 2 # camelots. 12 alpine draws. We felt no need for anything else. And thank you to the sad owner of the now permanent cam above the hand cracks for the protection!

Looking up from our first anchor. The crux hand cracks visible above. There are some blocks to the left of this image that are loose.

This class 5 section went in 1.5 pitches on a 60 m rope. We were seeing gusting winds at ~30 mph so I wanted a good standing anchor/belay. I found a nice perch just below the hand cracks and ended up at almost a full rope length. After setting my anchor I realized that there are some kind of scary blocks right above me . The climbing is fantastic.

After topping out on some broken up blackish rock the climbing grade goes down to 3rd and 4th class right away. From our top out to summit we made it in about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The scrambling is outstanding. Staying roped up here could add hours to your day and is unnecessary. We mostly stayed to the ridge proper and went straight up the white patch of rock with the pinkish diagonal gash. There are good flakes to hold and great friction. The ramp on the left side of the headwall is very exposed and includes a couple 4th class moves.

For our climb we went mostly off of this route description on mountain project and felt well prepared:

20749_11Looking back at the ridge we ascended


The summit push felt like a slog after hours of climbing and airy scrambling. I want to make readers aware that the descent from the saddle back into the basin is terrifyingly loose. We did our best to stay to more consolidated rock bands but these are inconsistent. I hope you find better! The descent was tedious and could be dangerous if you are below others.

Back in the basin we enjoyed softer ground on our descent, retracing our approach path as well as we could.

20749_01Not my cairn.

Split times here:

Depart Sandbeach Lake: 5:47 AM

Breakfast below the ridge: 8:15

Start 5th Class: 9:15

Top out/off ropes: 10:50

Pagoda summit & lunch: 12:36 PM

Depart summit: 12:50

Sandbeach Lake, breakdown, pack up and drink: 4:41

TH: 7:00

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Comments or Questions
Excellent report
09/26/2020 16:08
What great looking ridge with wonderful photographs.

09/28/2020 20:16
Way to go !!
Was the bushwhack in as bad as advertised?

Re: ltlFish and OldTrad
09/29/2020 15:48
Thanks ltlFish and OldTrad! We actually found the bushwhack much easier than I'd read in other reports. I researched our route as extensively as I could one Google Earth and the roughly drawn line in image 2 will take you through easy terrain. This route capitalizes on what traffic Meeker does see from this side. Then crossing west over Hunter's Creek as the meadow narrows on the north end takes you up through pretty open forest. Just don't get too close to the talus below Meeker. Go for it - it was terrific!!!

Well Done
10/05/2020 13:01
This is also a favorite of mine. I climbed it from Glacier Gorge Trailhead though. Thanks kindly for posting a trip report about your ascent

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