This trip had been booked in for a while by my friend Ananth who is trying to bag all the peaks on the Teanaway 20 list on peak bagger. I’m not as big into lists but love the Teanaways so was happy to join for the trip. This would be a scramble of 3 peaks along a ridge with a trail approach of 3 miles. There was a lot of elevation and miles in between to make this a pretty big day.
drive time from Seattle
ice axe, spikes
NW forest pass for upper trailhead
We started from the Stafford Creek Trailhead which is used to access Navaho pass. The trail follows Stafford creek, apart from the occasional switchback the elevation gain is moderate. There were some small creeks to cross and a few blowdowns along the way. We made quick work of the trail and were just over an hour to where we deviated from the trail to gain the ridge between Navaho and Freedom (also known as Little Navaho) Peaks. We left the trail where a dry creek bed crosses the trail, approximately 3 miles in. As we climbed towards the ridge we hit snow maybe 500ft below the ridgeline.
On the ridge, it was obvious the snow that remained formed some rather large cornices which we were careful to stay away from. We continued our climb up Navaho, gaining some false summits along the way but eventually reaching the true summit at 12:30. Here we got views of the Stuart Range and peaks from the bean creek basin.
We took a short break on the summit of Navaho before heading down the way we had come up. On the way up we scouted a way to connect the shoulder of Navaho to the ridge with Three Brothers. We ended up dropping more than 1000ft before we started climbing up the Three Brothers. There was still snow as we first started dropping down towards the saddle with Three Brothers which we used to glissade on and make quick work of the descent. There seemed to be a faint boot path up to the summit of Three Brothers which we were able to follow. The way was mostly snow free and we climbed to gain the 1000ft we’d lost from the Navaho summit. The ridge required only a little use of our hands to climb over some rocky obstacles, other than that it was pretty much a straight walk-up.
On the summit of Three Brothers, we got similar views to Navaho peak but clouds seemed to be looming larger making a little cooler. There were a few mounds at the top, we found the true summit by finding the Mountaineers summit register which we filled out. The last entry was November last year. As we started our descent off of Three Brothers we set our sights on Freedom Peak.
Freedom shares a ridge with Navaho and where we gained the ridge originally was the saddle between Freedom and Navaho Peaks. To start our route up Freedom we needed to get back to this saddle. Instead of backtracking along the ridge of Three Brothers and Freedom, we dropped lower into the Etienne Creek Basin underneath this ridgeline to cut some of the distance. Here I took the opportunity to refill my water bladder for the remaining climb.
To get back to the saddle of Navaho and Freedom we decided to climb a ridge leading to one of Navaho’s false summits just north of the saddle we wanted to get to. As we skirted around this ridge we were hoping to traverse to the saddle. Unfortunately, we ran into some steep gullies blocking our way. It then took some route finding and we decided on traversing a snowfield and gaining the ridge at the top in between two cornices. The snow was soft so easy enough to make steps. I was one of the last to traverse and climb the snow wall and by that time the rest of the team had made some bomber steps. We affectionately knick-named the feature ‘Ananths Wall’ and were glad we all got through safely.
From the saddle, it was a short scramble up a few hundred feet to the summit of Freedom Peak. This was the most fun scrambling of the day because of the steep cliffs and the narrower ridge leading to the summit of Freedom. The summit was a smaller block than Navaho and Three Brothers giving you a better 360 view. From the top of Freedom, it was great to look across the saddle and the valley to our other objectives for the day and marvel at how far we’d come.
We started the climb down to the saddle again at around 4 pm and descended back to the trail the way we’d come up that morning. I was thankful for the long days we are having now because the 3-mile walk back to the trailhead was all in the light of day. The day turned out to be a really rewarding scramble and I was glad we had such a strong team to make it possible. My Garmin indicated over 14 miles and over 6000ft of elevation gain after all the ups and downs. We were all dreaming of food on the way back so stopped for Thai in Cle Elum before driving all the way back to Seattle.