Tour le Lacka-Casco
I first hiked Lackawanna and Unnamed 13,660 B in 2016. During that trip I laid eyes on the connecting ridge to Casco and never really stopped thinking about connecting them. After reading trip reports and scouting several lines and peaks in the area on both sides of the mountain from Halfmoon to North Lake Creek trailheads I was confident in making this attempt. I still didn’t do the full loop I dreamed of, though.
The weekend weather wasn’t favorable for our original aggressive loop ambitions so we opted for a different ridge run instead. This particular year I was focused on linking up multi-peak big loop routes with big car-to-car days. The weather had other plans but we still enjoyed a full value day above treeline.
I love connecting Gerry Roach extra credits because they are pretty fun and I like to add my own connections. The route we chose approached from the North Lake Trailhead, a lesser known and far less crowded location with an arguably superior route.
We left the truck around 4:30 am and made our way up the easy but steep shoulder of Lackawanna after exiting the forest. The weather dropped some moisture including snow and ice the night before as forecasted. We topped out on the ridge just around sunrise and soaked in the views of our lofty objective.
The ridge is class 2 talus with a little boulder hopping on the ridge up to point 13,660 B. A mellow and enjoyable route! Once on the summit of Point 13,660 B the remaining route to Lackawanna is visible but deceiving with the 3 false summits carefully hidden.
I consider it a stroll over gentle terrain to Lackawanna. I stay high and left to enjoy the dramatic cliffs and gullies below. The last push over the false summits to Lackawanna are a little steep after a long morning, but relatively easy. We sat to enjoy a snack on the summit and discuss our next objective, Casco.
My partner, Ricky, wasn’t as familiar with the route as I, which is normal. I study these peaks pretty often and read tons of trip reports, study maps and plot out my own intended linkups. We descended Lackawanna and headed toward the main ridge to continue on to Casco.
The perspective from this location is daunting as there are two steep sections with significant loss before finally summiting Casco. The ridge walk over is mild though steep with scree in areas and repeated loss and regain of elevation. The first section is harder being directly uphill and very steep. I topped out on a random high point along the ridge then turned right for our last push up Casco’s shoulder.
The last leg was largely class 2+ and with the residual ice and snow from the night before we were gifted a little extra spice. Residual snow made for careful footwork making our way to the summit block. The summit itself is small but has a shelter for 2-3 people to enjoy a break. We lucked out with the summit to ourselves for a quick snack before we bounced due to an incoming storm as clouds consolidated.
The incoming storm meant we had to bail on our full loop and decided to cut directly down the saddle earlier than the roach alternative route. You can reconnect by following the stream in the basin. The trail was faint once we found it again and overgrown in areas further down the basin. Some bushwacking was involved. There is a ton of avalanche debri on this route and you can occasionally cross debri sections to cross the creek and then bushwack up past the cabin to rejoin the existing trail. Not the most enjoyable part of this hike.
We made it back down nearly to the car when it started raining. Still a full value day despite mother nature’s curve ball. Casco is a great peak and I keep seeing more and more of the neighboring ridges!