The Bailey Range Traverse
Cascade Traverses, such as the Ptarmigan, are well-known adventures. But deep in the heart of the Olympic Mountains is one of Washington’s most elusive traverses — the Bailey Range Traverse and a grand finale of Mount Olympus. Read MM guide Brian Mueller’s story below and find out why its one of his favorite trips.
Over the dates of July 16 – 24 last summer, a couple lucky Mountain Madness guests enjoyed the wonders of the fantastic Bailey Range Traverse. This high traverse through Olympic National Park is rugged, remote, and involves a wide variety of different skills. Combine this with a bit of luck, having no rain, and a fantastic time was had on the traverse including 4.5 days without seeing another person.
Much like the Ptarmigan and Isolation Traverses, where there are opportunities to climb some peaks along the way, the Bailey Range Traverse has some climbs along the way, culminating with the crown jewel, Mount Olympus. On the way some of the highlights of the trip were summiting Mount Carrie, which was a Class 3 scramble up the ridge from our second nights camp, Boston Charlie. Up until this point on the trip the clouds had kept us from views, however while climbing the peak we poked above the clouds, and found some phenomenal views.
A favorite section of the route however, comes after camping at Cream Lake. The previous day is hard earned travel across some challenging terrain, and you are now in the heart of the Bailey Range. This section travels over heather and interspersed game trails through alpine lakes and meadows, as you make your way to Lone Tree Pass. This area gives you a sense of the scale and ruggedness of some of the Olympics with a 2000’ drop from camp down to the Goldie drainage.
As we rounded the traverse and made our way towards Mount Olympus and the Humes Glacier, evidence of glacier recession was abundant when the map showed we were on the glacier but had some final shenanigans to actually reach it! From here it was smooth sailing through on glaciers and rock scrambling to one of the more spectacular camps a person can visit, Camp Pan, located on a rocky prow overlooking the Hoh Glacier.
From here its glacier travel interspersed with rocky scrambling, steep snow, and rock climbing to reach the summit of the West Peak of Mount Olympus, where we were fortunate to be staring in the distance at the Pacific Ocean and Vancouver Island.
All in all, this is a fantastic experience, in a rugged area. If you are considering this trip, prepare yourself for a rugged experience, but know it is one of this guides favorite Madness trips.