The highest peak in the eastern Olympics and the second highest in the range after Mt. Olympus, Mt. Deception offers a rewarding climb on a big mountain. Despite it’s relatively non-technical nature, there’s still plenty of excitement to be had. In spring and early summer conditions we climb the Northeast Chute, a steep 45°+ degree gully. Later in the season the route becomes a steep scramble on rock, still requiring crampons to cross an old pocket glacier below the summit.
Our first day of the trip is spent hiking into Royal Basin, one of the most scenic campsites in Olympic National Park. With an alpine start, we climb on day 2, pack up camp, and hike out to the trailhead.
We meet at Sequim Bay State Park at 8am for introductions, gear check, and final preparations. From here it’s about a half hour drive to our trailhead on the Dungeness River.
The hike in to Royal Basin takes a full day, gaining 2500’ of elevation over the course of 7 miles. For most of the ascent we follow Royal Creek, hiking through old growth forest, across avalanche paths, and into the subalpine zone.
We’ll set up camp in the vicinity of Royal Lake, and make preparations for our ascent.
DAY 2 – Climb
With an alpine start we begin our climb. From camp the route ascends into the upper basin and we find ourselves beneath the broad, intimidating Northeast face. From here we ascend progressively steepening slopes towards the Northeast Chute (early season). The Northeast Chute is steep and direct, and we front point our way up this gully using our ice axe, crampons, and the rope. This is the most spectacular section of the climb. Topping out on the summit ridge, it’s a short cruise to the top.
Later season we’ll ascend to the Deception-Martin Peak col and descend a short distance to a glacier on the north side of the mountain, climbing a few hundred feet on snow, with one or two steeper sections. This puts us on Deception’s north ridge, and the last 400’ is a cruise.
On top we hang out for an hour or so, eat lunch and take in the views before descending back to camp. We pack up our camp and after a short break begin our hike out to the trailhead.
In addition to the items on this list, participants will be given a portion of the group equipment to carry.
PACKS & BAGS
☐ Backpack: 50-75 liter internal frame pack (ex: CiloGear 60L WorkSack or Black Diamond Mission 75).
☐ Sleeping bag: Rated between 15° and 30° (warmer early season), down or synthetic. Keep in mind that manufacturer’s temperature ratings are subjective and serve as guidelines.
☐ Compression stuff sack: Sized appropriately to your bag.
☐ Sleeping pad: Inflatable or closed cell foam (ex: Thermarest Prolite).
☐Ice axe: 60-70cm mountaineering axe (ex: Petzl Snowalker, Summit, or Sum’Tec). No leash is required. RENT
☐ Crampons: 10 or 12 point mountaineering crampon. Avoid waterfall ice crampons with fully rigid frames and vertical front points, as well as older crampons with leather straps. Be sure that your crampons are compatible with your boots (ex: Petzl Irvis). RENT
☐ Harness: Alpine harness with adjustable leg loops (ex: Petzl Adjama). For safety reasons, your harness needs to be less than 10 years old and in good condition. Be sure to check the fit of your harness. RENT
☐ (1) Locking carabiner: Pear shaped recommended (ex: Petzl Attache or Attache 3D).
☐ (1) Non-locking carabiner: Wire gate recommended (ex: Petzl Ange S or Ange L).
☐ Climbing helmet: Needs to be climbing specific (ex: Petzl Elios or Meteor III +). RENT
☐ Transceiver: Digital recommended. May not be required for later season climbs (ex: BCA Tracker 2). RENT
☐ Poles: Ski poles or trekking poles with powder baskets (ex: Black Diamond Traverse). RENT
Our favorite option for this program is a lightweight synthetic mountaineering boot with a half-length shank such as the La Sportiva Trango S; great for summer alpine climbing and fairly comfortable to hike in.
☐ Mountaineering boots: A lighter weight boot is ideal (ex: La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX - Men’s | Women’s).
☐ Sandals (optional): For around camp. Should be as lightweight as possible.
☐ Gaiters (optional): Provide a clean interface between our pants, boots, and crampons (ex: OR Flex-tex).
☐ Socks: 2-3 pairs (wool or synthetic) that work well with your boots. Keep in mind that warmth comes from good circulation, not necessarily heavy socks. If your boots are roomy choose a heavier sock, if they’re snug choose a lighter sock.
☐ Sunglasses: Glacier glasses or dark tinted wrap-arounds, should have full UV protection. Consider bringing an extra pair. (ex: Julbo Dolgan) RENT
☐ Warm hat: Fleece, wool or synthetic.
☐ Sun hat: Baseball cap, visor, etc.
☐ Buff® (optional)
There are many layering combinations for your upper body that will work well. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
☐ Baselayer top: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric (ex: First Ascent Midweight 1/4-Zip Baselayer or First Ascent Solarfoil Hoodie).
☐ (1-2) Insulating layers: Fleece, softshell or synthetic/down. Two lighter layers are more versatile than one heavy layer (ex: First Ascent Sandstone Hoodie, Hangfire Hoodie, or Accelerant Jacket).
☐ Hardshell jacket with hood: Lightweight and waterproof (ex: First Ascent BC-200 Jacket).
☐ Synthetic or down insulated jacket: Synthetic or down (ex: First Ascent Ignitor Jacket).
☐ Baselayer bottoms (optional) (ex: First Ascent Midweight Baselayer Pants)
☐ Softshell climbing pants: Lightweight, breathable synthetic fabric. Zip-off trekking pants also work (ex: First Ascent Guide Pants or Mountain Guide Lite Pants).
☐ Hardshell pants: For adverse weather. These must have full side zips (ex: First Ascent Rainier Storm Shell Pants).
☐ (2) Heavy trash bags:Cheap lightweight waterproof lining for your backpack.
☐ Sunscreen: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on (ex: Doc Martin’s of Maui).
☐ Lip balm: With SPF protection.
☐ Insect repellent: Avoid DEET (ex: Natrapel).
☐ Water bottles(s) or hydration system: Should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
☐ Water purification tablets: Regular iodine tends to work best (ex: Potable Aqua); chlorine dioxide tablets are less practical.
☐ Thermos (optional): Half-liter size recommended.
☐ Compact camera
☐ Extra batteries: For your headlamp, camera, etc.
☐ Headlamp: LED headlamp recommended (ex: Petzl Tikka XP2 or Tikka Plus). RENT
☐ See Details.
☐ Insulated mug
☐ (2) Spoons or sporks
PERSONAL FIRST AID/TOILETRIES
Guides will carry a well-equipped group first aid kit.
☐ Personal toiletry kit: Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper and/or baby wipes, gender specific items, small bottle of hand sanitizer.
☐ Personal first aid kit: Band-Aids, blister repair, anti-diarrheal (Immodium), antacid, ibuprofen or aspirin, as well as any personal prescription medications (be sure to discuss these with us).
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Book (lightweight)
☐ Journal w/pencil
We will provide all necessary group equipment for you trip such as tents, stoves, ropes, and rescue gear.
- No previous climbing or mountaineering experience is required.
- Some previous backpacking experience is recommended.
- This is a physically demanding trip, and excellent physical fitness is essential.
- You should be able to hike/climb for 1-2 hours at a stretch taking 10 minute breaks, for up to 10 hours.
- You should be able to ascend 3000′ in a day carrying 45 lbs on your back, and 4500′ in a day carrying 25lbs on your back.
- Physical conditioning should not be underestimated. Mountaineering is a strenuous activity and some sort of training/exercise regimen will be beneficial.
- The better shape you’re in, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of this trip.
- Guiding and instruction at a 4:1 ratio
- Group equipment: tents, stoves, fuel, ropes, and technical gear
- Permit and insurance costs
- Lodging and transportation before and after the trip
- Personal equipment and food*
*provided for an additional fee.
Lunch Food: In the mountains, “lunch starts after breakfast and ends before dinner”. In other words, on a given day we generally won’t stop for a formal lunch break, and instead we’ll snack all day long. This is vital to maintaining high energy levels in this environment.
Be sure to bring foods that you like and emphasize variety. Energy bars and gels are great but in limited amounts – real food works just as well and tastes better.
Breakfasts & Dinners: Bring meals that can be cooked with just boiling water. Examples include freeze-dried pouches (Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry), ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, etc. The stoves we use are very efficient for heating water but are not suitable for actual preparation.
WHERE TO MEET
Sequim Bay State Park, close to Sequim, WA.
Option A: Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. From here the drive to Sequim takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Option B: Fly into Port Angeles. Kenmore Air flies daily from Sea-Tac and is an Alaska Airlines partner (domestic flights can be booked with Port Angeles as the destination). From here the drive to Sequim takes about 20 minutes.
Many options in Sea-Tac.
Camping available at Sequim Bay State Park, otherwise Sequim is the closest town.
Check out our Weather & Avalanche Resources page.
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