Banner Peak Backpack, Day 2 – Thousand Island Lake to Banner Peak to Rush Creek TH, September 13 2015

posted in: Photos, Trip Report | 5

When we left Rush Creek trailhead on Day 1, we were planning on setting up camp at Thousand Island Lake, possibly waking up to take some sunrise photos, then hiking out at a leisurely, enjoyable pace. About 9 miles into our hike though, we got our first good look at Banner Peak. At that point, we both knew we’d be headed up that mountain in a few hours. After setting up camp at Thousand Island Lake and getting some sleep, our crazy 24 hours began:

  • Awake at 4 AM
  • Leave camp around 4:45 AM
  • North Glacier Pass 7 AM
  • Ritter – Banner Saddle 9 AM (only 4 miles from camp)
  • Banner Summit 11 AM (only .5 miles from R-B Saddle, but 1000 ft higher)
  • Back at Glacier Pass around 1 PM where we get thunder, rain & hail.
  • Back at camp at 3 PM
  • Back on the trail in a thunderstorm after packing up, 3:45 PM
  • Back at car at 9 PM
  • Home at 2:30 AM
  • Done unpacking showering at 4 AM
  • Up for work at 6 AM

This trip deserves a detailed report, which I am unable to write at this time. It’s been a month since this trip, so I feel I need to get the photos posted now.  As time allows, I will add details to the timeline above. 

Route Finding

From Thousand Island Lake to North Glacier Pass, there is a use trail, but we did not find until our descent. By hopping into the boulder field earlier than needed, I believe we cost ourselves an extra 45 minutes or more.

In the images above, you can see where we passed through North Glacier Pass. The topo map shows our routes – our ascent in blue and our descent in red. The red follows a use trail and is much easier.

From North Glacier Pass to the Glacier NW of Ritter-Banner Saddle, we did not find a trail. It took us some time to figure out where we should go to get over to the glacier, but here are the details of the route we took.

Here is the same route, looking back towards North Glacier Pass.

Heading up the glacier, we opted to wear MICROSpikes and Trail Crampons and stayed on the ice as much as possible. Once we reached the saddle, I believe we started towards the peak a little earlier than we should have. There is a use trail that we didn’t see until we were nearly on the summit; if we had continued further north before cutting towards the peak, we would’ve seen it earlier. In the images below, our ascent is shown in blue and our descent in red. Red is the better way to go.

Near the summit, their are two distinct use trails – one headed to the left and one headed to the right. The one to the left is the easier route to the top.

Geek Stats

Distance: 20 miles || Duration: 16 hr 15 min (including packing up camp) || Elevation Gain/Loss:+5,915,’ -8,515′ || Max Elevation: 12,936′ || Difficulty: Strenuous

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5 Responses

  1. TJ

    Right on.
    BIG day.
    You got your money’s worth with that one.

  2. Rick Shaw

    You are brave. I went there in mid August. Got to the Glacier, tried to find the way around it on the left but couldn’t. Had microspikes but chicken out after hearing rock slides on the western wall. Those boulders are killer. Not for the faint of heart.

    • TheHikingGeek

      I had a detailed map and GPS coordinates.

  3. JohnH

    Can you clarify the route up to summit and which color is better? If you heading up toward the peak too early, wouldn’t that have been the red route? The blue goes to the saddle before heading towards the top. Or are you talking about the final summit scramble….like better to stay left?

    • TheHikingGeek

      Hi John,

      Either route would work fine until the final summit block. The use trail basically comes to a “T”. If hiking again, I would go to the left.

      Please report back how things go for you.