I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for challenges. Oooh, a list of peaks to bag? I’m in! A list of hikes to complete? When do I start? I love the accountability of a challenge and the feeling of accomplishment when you can mark it as complete.
Back in 2014 my friend Nathaniel Rowley, co-owner of Sahaptin Outfitters in Cle Elum, launched a fun hiking contest called “Summit the District”. Participants had to summit 10 specific peaks in the Cle Elum Ranger District and snap a picture at the top with a contest placard. I’d never participated in a hiking challenge before but when I heard about it I knew I wanted to do it. I grabbed my crazy hiking friend Annette and our dogs and off we went! Over the next few months we had a blast peakbagging. My friend successfully completed the challenge but I, sadly, fell about a half peak short. Despite that, we were among only a few people to finish or come close and our dogs also earned top honors!
Despite that half peak short thing (argh!) I found the whole experience to be incredibly motivating and fun! Granted, it’s not like I need a lot of motivation to get outdoors, but I found myself driven by the idea of completing the list and because of it, I hiked to places I might not normally have gone. Since the contest, the Cle Elum district has become one of my favorite hiking destinations.
If you’re bored of the same old hikes or looking to complete a grand challenge, check out the following 8 Washington State peak lists to get some fun motivation for the upcoming year. Most Washington State lists are very alpine oriented and require a mix of mountaineering and scrambling skills, but the Mountaineers maintain several challenges that appeal to hikers. Not up for peaks? There are also a few alpine lake lists that aren’t maintained on any peak bagging websites.
Hiking Peak Lists
Everett Lookout Peaks*
These high lookout peaks are located north of I-90 all the way to the Canadian border (one in the Olympics) and make for a fine hiking challenge with some amazing views! The Mountaineers maintain several of the lookouts in this challenge and a pin for completing 12 of the destinations is offered by the Everett branch of the Mountaineers.
Olympia Lookout Hiking Peaks*
This list is sponsored by the Olympia chapter of the Mountaineers and hiking 12 of the 20 destinations on the list qualify you for their award. Most hikes are scattered around the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainier and the South Cascades with Heybrook Ridge being north around Stevens Pass.
If you love the Mount Rainier area, this 32-peak challenge is the one for you! Earning the Mountaineers pin is somewhat complex though, as you must climb at least 3 peaks in any of the 4 groups for the first pin, then 3 peaks in all 8 groups for the second. All summits are in the southern foothills of Mount Rainier, considered slightly more experienced, and can involve a bit of alpine scrambling.
The Teanaway Twenty*
The Teanaway is located east of Cle Elum and is a fantastic area for exploration. Trails criss cross everywhere and weather is notoriously sunny in spring and fall, making it a great shoulder season destination. The Teanaway Twenty is comprised of two lists: the first ten and second ten. Complete one or both! Some peaks may require some light scrambling.
Mountaineering Peak Lists
Want to go bigger and have scrambling and/or mountaineering and alpine experience? Check out the following four challenges!
This 20 peak list is broken into two sets of 10 and the Mountaineers Seattle branch offers pins for completion of both. All destinations are in the Snoqualmie Pass area and require solid scrambling skills.
Home Court 100
A list of 100 with at least 500′ of prominence mostly located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness between I-90 and US2. This one will keep you busy for a while and contains a good mix of hiking and advanced scrambling skills. I think most experienced hikers could complete this list without having big mountaineering skills. Even I’m surprised at how many of these I’ve knocked off over the years.
The Bellingham branch of the Mountaineers sponsors this challenge, which is reserved for serious mountaineers only. All peaks are near Mount Baker and completing any 13 on this list will earn you an award. Most summits require crossing glaciers or steep snowfields, substantial bushwhacking, and expert skills. Know your ability before signing up for this one!
Pretty much considered the ultimate Washington State challenge, the Bulgers were a very informal group of climbers who set out to climb the 100 highest peaks in Washington State. This list has achieved a certain legitimacy among Cascade climbers and is a typical way to knock off the Washington Top 100. The list was first completed in 1980 and in late 2014 a 27-yr old woman, Linsey Warren, became the youngest person to complete the list. At the time she was only the 49th person to fully complete the challenge. Most people take several years to finish the list.
Last year I attended a presentation at Second Ascent by Minnesota-native turned PNW local Tim Halder about his experience completing the Bulger List. It was such a fun and entertaining evening and his pictures and stories were simply incredible! What an amazing challenge!
So there you have it! If you’re looking for some new challenges in 2016, pick a list and go for it! And drop me a line to let me know you’re doing it, I love hearing about everyone’s outings! Peaks not your thing? Check out these alpine lakes lists!