Peak(s):  Pacific Pk - 13,950 feet
Atlantic Pk - 13,841 feet
Fletcher Mtn - 13,951 feet
Drift Peak - 13900
Date Posted:  08/18/2017
Modified:  02/23/2018
Date Climbed:   08/18/2017
Author:  MaxKugel
 Mayflower Traverse   

I'll keep things pretty short, but I figured this might be helpful to someone since there isn't a ton of beta out there aside from one or two trip reports and Cooper's book.

Boston Mine TH: 7:30
Pacific Peak: 9:05
Atlantic Peak: 9:50
Fletcher Mountain: 11:35
Drift Peak: 12:10
6 Hours, 6.40 miles, 4,038 ft

I was initially only going to do Atlantic, Fletcher, and Drift, but figured Pacific wouldn't add much time and I wanted to take a gander down the north couloir for the sake of future skiing endeavors. Pacific's west ridge is straightforward and can be kept at 3rd class without much effort. Generally speaking, if you encounter something you don't feel comfortable ascending, cut south (right) and regain the ridge when possible.

Pacific Peak west ridge

Pacific to Atlantic is easy class 2 and passes the highest USGS-recognized lake in America, Pacific Tarn at 13,420 feet. How neat is that?

Pacific, Pacific Tarn, Quandry, Atlantic

From looking at pictures and the Atlantic-Fletcher ridge from a distance, it didn't appear that bad. From Atlantic it looked pretty similar to the Spiller-Babcock ridge in the La Platas.

The ridge to Fletcher and Drift from Atlantic

Turns out, it was pretty tough. As outlined in previous trip reports, there are five major gendarmes, some easier than others. As a note, the majority of the gullies between the towers have exit options to the west, east, or both (everything before the third gendarme certainly goes, after that it looked possible, but luckily I didn't have to confirm this). The first tower was easy class 3.

Gendarme 1 - 3rd class

After passing this, I quickly realized that photos and observations from a distance do nothing to convey scale or the generally shitty rock quality. For me, the biggest issue wasn't the difficulty and looseness of climbing necessarily, but knowing that if the line I took didn't go through, that I would be forced to downclimb it. Between gendarme 1-4 the climbing didn't exceed 5.4ish and the downclimbs weren't too bad, but the rock was generally very loose. I thought that, with the exception of the 4th tower, the difficulty increased from north to south, but I was able to stay on or close to the ridge crest for the entire route.

Gendarme 3, I think? Maybe 2

As I type this I recall looking at a trip report of the Mayflower Grand Traverse the other night and saying to myself "there is no way that is 5.7." While I can't comment on the grade of the north face of gendarme 5, it was something that I did not feel comfortable free soloing without anyone around. Suffice to say, it definitely exceeds 5.easy (at least by my standards). If you decide to go up the face I would plan for at least 50 feet of loose 5.5+, and I certainly would not want to come down this way without a rappel.

Gendarme 5

From here I dropped maybe 40 feet down the couloir to the west and took some sketchy 3rd-4th class ramps to some lower 5th class climbing to gain the west ridge of gendarme 5, which continues east to the top. From here it is straightfoward class 3 and below to the summit of Fletcher.

Top of Gendarme 5 looking north to Atlantic

If you make it this far, the rest is a breeze. I found the downclimb of the notch on Drift to be pretty trivial compared to a lot of terrain encountered on the ridge between Atlantic and Fletcher. It is at most 20 feet of 5.easy, and all of the holds I tested were solid. There were two relatively-new looking slings up here.

5th class downclimb en route to Drift and 3rd class climb to false summit

The route from here to Drift Peak is initially class 3 after the notch, mellowing to class 2 soon thereafter to the summit. (Side note: Does anyone know the purpose of the metal rods seen on Drift, the ridge to Arkansas, etc? I imagine it has something to do with mining or surveying, but they certainly seem to be more common in this area than elsewhere). The ridge between Drift and Gold Hill was definitely not my favorite part of the day. I've been on worse talus, but it wasn't a particularly enjoyable way to end the hike. I think I'll wait until winter/spring to get back up here.

Choose a clear day and be confident in route finding and 5th class climbing/downclimbing. You could definitely get in over your head on this one.

For what it's worth, Pacific is 30 feet higher than Fletcher based on the super-accurate Strava altimeter.

Traverse from Gold Hill

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Vimana Aircraft
Well Done!!!!
08/23/2017 21:17
Awesome link up!!!!!

Very cool!
06/23/2019 09:24
Thank you!

Useful info
09/28/2019 20:23
Finally did this route today after thinking about it for some years. We took a rope and used it on the fifth class sections. And we did that finish on #5 just as you described it. I had hoped to do Drift too, but it was 4:30 or so atop Fletcher, so no. (And we started with Atlantic, not Pacific). Anyway, thanks for the helpful info.

Very helpful
07/09/2020 15:06
Thank you for the beta. We did Pacific via the East Ridge on Monday and took a close, hard look at the ridge from Atlantic to Fletcher. You're right that there isn't much beta on these ridges and your info is really helpful. We'll hopefully head back out there in the future to give it a go. Thanks :-)

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