From Dome Peak last weekend, Sloan stood out on the horizon with its distinctive, matterhorn-esque shape. Erica and I were able to spare one day this weekend for an adventure and decided to brave an early wakeup in Seattle on Sunday to car-to-car the route. Most beta we could find suggested at least 11-12 hours, if not longer, so we got rolling by 4:30am from Seattle, made good time on the Mountain Loop Highway, and left the car at about 1,900 feet just after 6:30am. We opted for the Cougar Creek approach, hoping that the river crossings near the start would be relatively civilized at this time of year.
After working our way through the brushy trail from the car, we quickly hit the first river crossing. A bit of searching upstream found a great set of logs to cross. From there, we battled some brush and made a couple more crossings, finding faint trails at times, but generally using our topo and GPS to head in the right direction. After the last crossing, on a large, sandy, dry stream bed, we remembered the beta suggesting a departure from the old trail, heading upstream a ways before ducking into the forest.
From there, the trail was faint at first, but became more and more established. We went sharply uphill, switching back quite a bit until reaching an awesome waterfall where we crossed the creek and continued up. At 9am, after about 2.5 hours, including some brushy sections that were a bit hard to follow at times, we made it to open views at 5,000 feet. We’d been cruising to this point and made the wise decision to sit down and eat our snack of salami and cheddar before continuing up.
After following the trail up the ridge, we followed up on scree and slabs to the saddle at 5,800 feet, neglecting to read the beta suggesting that the summer route continues up the grassy ridge. In either case, it was a direct approach and went quickly, allowing us to make the saddle just before 10am. At the saddle we headed through and turned right, following more slabs up to a pretty high access point on the glacier. A party of four had just descended the glacier and were taking their crampons off as we arrived and put ours on. It sounded like everything was in good shape.
We headed up the glacier with our gear and light rope on, following a nice boot pack around some crevasses and eventually traversing to bare rock at the Southeast edge of the summit block at about 11:15am. We left our technical gear and poles here, then continued up on the classic climber’s path for the summit. There were a few fun sections requiring hands, but it always felt comfortable as 3rd/4th class. We made it to the top a few minutes before noon and took in the crystal-clear views over lunch.
Not much to say about the descent, save that we went down the snow as far as it would take us on the glacier and made one magical stop at the waterfall to dunk our feet. We were back at the car just after 4:15pm for about 9h 45m on the day, which gave us the time to drive home via Darrington and milkshakes.