Chamberlain Basin Cross-Country Route By Tom Cox

Overview 1st view. Tom Cox Image

Overview 1st view. Tom Cox Image

This approach route details the shortcut to Chamberlain Basin and Castle Peak that goes up through a notch in the ridgeline on the southeast side of Washington Lake called Chamberlain Col. Many refer to this route as the “Splattski Cutoff.” The approximate total distance is 3.6 miles from the 4th of July Trailhead to the east side of the ridge and upper Chamberlain Basin. Elevation gain/loss is approximately 1,900/890ft. The route reaches an elevation of 10,150ft at the top of Chamberlain Col. These chutes are loose scree with an angle of 30 to 60 degrees. This route bypasses approximately 6 miles from Washington Lake to upper Chamberlain Basin.

Use FST # 109 [(A)(2)(a)] to access Washington Lake. Once at the lake, skirt around the west-southwest side to the south end of the lake and cross to the east side of the outlet and head east-northeast toward the edge of the forest and the talus slope at the base of the ridge. Climb the talus up to the base of the prominent chute.

The route up to the Chamberlain Col. Tom Cox Photo

The route up to the Chamberlain Col. Tom Cox Photo

Chamberlain Basin XC

Climb the chute to the obvious Chamberlain Col. It is advisable to stick to the sides of the chute where the rock is generally more stable. Tom Cox Photo

Chamberlain Basin XC

Looking up the lower chute. Tom Cox Photo

Chamberlain Basin XC

Looking up the upper chute. Tom Cox Photo

Looking east from Chamberlain Col.

Looking east from Chamberlain Col.

Once you arrive at Chamberlain Col, Your descent into the upper basin will vary, depending on your objective. All of the lakes in Chamberlain Basin can be accessed from this route. There are faint climbers trails present on the east side that may provide guidance and more stable footing.

Tom Cox Photo

Looking up the east (Chamberlain) side of the chute. Tom Cox Photo

The route back to Washington Lake can be reversed by ascending the loose scree slopes of the east side back up to Chamberlain Col.

Chamberlain Basin XC

Overview 2nd view. Tom Cox Image