With a desire to get on top of something high during our 4-day staycation, Colin and I set our sights on Black Peak after having a great day climbing two routes on Liberty Bell. Following our late finish on Wednesday from that adventure, we got a late start Thursday and figured out our plan. We packed up our gear, including camping equipment, and headed for Rainy Pass. We geared up and left the car around 11:40am.
The hike up to Heather Pass and down the other side, then up to Lewis Lake was a bit less than 1.5 hours. We continued up to Wing Lake, dropping our camping gear and setting up shop at the edge of the mostly-frozen lake by 2:30pm. With much lighter packs, we headed for the col at the start of the Northeast Ridge, staying mostly on snow from the camp and traversing some steeper bits, arriving at the col within an hour or so. An improbably bold mountain goat was up there with us, posing on top of the ridge as we racked up.
The climb started pretty chossy, but soon improved in rock quality as we got higher. We fought to stay true to the ridge, climbing back to it whenever we'd traversed a short ways. The climbing was quite fun, with low 5th class moves here and there and lots of 4th class terrain. We did the whole ridge in a series of simul-climbing blocks and arrived at the summit at about 6:30pm. Black is pretty high at 8,970 feet and is somewhat solitary with awesome views of the North Cascades all the way down to Rainier. We soaked the view in for a bit before scrambling off the summit block, packing up our gear, and scrambling down the 4th and 3rd-class South Ridge staring at Goode the whole time, reminding me of last summer's climb up with Northeast Buttress with Kelsey.
Snow was continuous from the col down to camp and we had a great time boot skiing down nearly all of it. The descent went quite fast and we were back at the tent before 8pm with plenty of time to soak in the sunset while having dinner and a bit of whiskey. We hiked out the next morning with our sights set on one more climb before getting back to Seattle.
This route was great. I think we timed the conditions really well—there was quite a bit of snow left on the talus field to Lewis Lake and again from camp to the Northeast Ridge col as well as from the South Ridge col back to camp, but there was only a little bit of snow on the ridge itself that was easy to get around. I'd put this ridge climb up there in terms of climbing and views with some of the other classics in the North Cascades!