The Laramee Filter: pseudorandom thoughts, subsequently put on the Internet.
Tom Laramee
Date Published:
August 8th, 2023
Word Count:
1,763 (12:30 read time)
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A Layman's Guido To Summiting Del Campo

(And Under Adverse Conditions Nonetheless)

I've attempted to summit Del Campo twice previously. On the first attempt I got lost and had to enlist the help of two speed boulderers who were kind enough to let me join them on their way to the summit. On the second attempt I made it to the base of the peak's crags but couldn't find the scramble onramp[1].

Since the ingress to the scramble is non-trivial to locate, I'd like to attempt to provide a guide, to make it a little clearer.

NOTE: There are photos from yesterday's hike. Start on page 9 for non-mobile and on page 25 for mobile.

What I Learned In Terms of "Life Saving Advice"

I think I'd like start at the end (the summit), in case you get bored, distracted, and/or irritated and don't read anything past this section. I learned quite a bit about how to navigate a peak like Del Campo under very low-visibility conditions, and I think my observations will prove to be very valuable to others:

  1. Del Campo Peak is incredibly dangerous. To quote "Should you decide to tackle the summit, know that it is incredibly steep, and a fatal fall is never more than a misstep away."
    This is quite true. I saw for myself where those "fatal fall missteps" are likely to occur. The take-away here is that the vast majority of that scramble to the summit is along sections that, if you fell, you might lose your life.
    Another takeaway, from my previous (unorthodox) summit of Del Campo, is that it's sufficiently steep that there may be only one viable (read: sane) route to the top. My highly skilled [and ambitious] speed-boulders tried to find an alternate path and were unable to do so[2].
  2. To summit (particularly under low-visibility conditions), it's a requisite that you carefully mark your ascent route on the scramble section. The problem being: as far as I can tell, there's only one route to the summit (and therefore only one route down), and if you attempt to proceed down the wrong route from the summit, you'll inevitably be "cliffed out"[3].
    When I was at the summit, the fog was so thick I had a really hard time using any landmarks at all to guide me down. Normally, I'm pretty sure you can "look down at the direction you'd like to go" and begin your descent, but that doesn't work when you can't see anything.
    The other problem being, as far as I can tell, of the 360° you can observe at the summit, the descent route falls along approximately 5° of it, so you need to know where you're going (rather precisely it seems).
  3. Another requisite is to load up 2-4 GPS routes from hikers who have previously summited, and put those on your phone (and then display them on the main map of your hiking app). I used GAIA GPS for this purpose, and loaded two maps from These maps saved my bacon at the summit, as I'll explain later.
    GPS data can be very wacky along steep sections, and having 2-5 routes on display will work in your favor. Places they converge are usually right on the trail itself. Places they diverge can still be useful, just to give you a sense of direction.
  4. Wear a helmet. There's a lot of loose rock on that peak, and other hikers will, through no fault of their own, likely dislodge some of it. Additionally, other hikers may be [literally] right above you, and so rockfall is always a potential problem. It's also pretty easy to slip and fall on the loose rocks that make up the boulder field you need to cross to get to the scramble route.
A Quick Overview of My Hike

Here's a quick overview of my hike, as it overwhelmingly informs my subsequent guide.

When I set out, things were looking pretty good, weather-wise. The forecast called for "morning clouds, clearing in the early afternoon", and while I drove through rain showers on my way to the Barlow Pass trailhead, it was clear when when I got to Foggy Lake.

This was what Del Campo Peak looked like at 9:40am on 8/07/23:

My ascent to Gothic Basin was super fast (as was the extension to Foggy Lake), but my time from Foggy Lake to the summit was 1 hour, 50 minutes, which is incredibly slow.

Before I get too far, here are a couple of stats:

Total Distance:
10.9 miles
Elevation Gain:
Highest Point:
Total Time Hiking:
~9.5 hours
Time to Reach Gothic Lake:
2h 27m (wall time), 1h 55m (walking)
Hiking Time to Summit:
3h 3m

I don't recall where most of that time was spent, but I'm fairly certain a lot of it was spent (a) approaching the scramble route and then (b) on the scramble to the summit itself. As I approached the peak, very thick fog rolled in, and my visibility was quite poor. I'm sure this caused me to proceed with ample caution.

Del Campo is rated by as a "Class 3 Scramble"[4], which means (among other things) "Sustained hands-on scrambling, with decent exposure".

By the time I got to the top, around 11:30am, this is what the summit looked like:

Visibility was incredibly poor, and I was concerned that it might begin to rain.

Since this hike was mainly for "exploratory purposes" (aka: find the scramble, get on up there), as well as for me to face my fears about summiting this particular mountain[5], I didn't care if it was cloudy or not... this one was all about the journey.

My descent got off to a rough start. As you can see on that map, there's much wandering around at the very beginning. As it turns out, I was a few degrees off in terms of the direction I thought I needed to go to begin my descent, and all I saw were steep cliffs everywhere.

I had to re-summit, multiple-times (and calm myself down before I could proceed, as I was a little panicked), but I was able to use GPS data in (IMO) the only useful way I've really ever used it:

When I'm off-trail, as I was at the start of my descent, I pull up the map and orient my phone so it's pointing perpendicularly at the nearest section of the trail .. that way, I know which direction I need to walk (and in the shortest distance), to re-find the trail.

This is what I did at the summit and it worked. I climbed down the huge stack of boulders that makes up the summit and saw a couple of my trail-markers. To say I was happy at that moment doesn't even begin to describe how relieved I felt.

The Layman's Guide to Summiting Del Campo Peak

As promised, here is my guide. I focused almost entirely on "getting yourself onto Del Campo Peak", as it's relatively straight-forward after that (although the last section near the summit itself is wicked steep and you should be careful up there).

Click each photo to get a hi-rez version:

Del Campo Peak: Your Destination. Note the location of the bushes/shrubs on the rock face.
Note that there are two approaches when there's a huge snowfield just below the summit.
There's a massive boulder-field of loose/tumble-down boulders below the peak itself.
There's no way to get from here to there if you start at the wrong place.
There's a gap, or a gully, between the two adjacent crags. I call this the onramp.
The on-ramp dead-ends if you go too far.
Believe it or not, this is the civilized way to get onto Del Campo Peak.
While it might look promising, that's a dead-end.
The SW views here are normally exceptional. Gothic Mountain (et al).
The E/SE views are also normally exceptional.
The route to the summit has both scramble sections and trail sections.
The last section to the summit is a steep scramble over/up huge boulders.
[1] The onramp is my colloquial term for the short section of the hike where the trail meets the scramble and gets you onto the first part of the scramble.
[2] And in all honesty: if those guys couldn't do it, I'm just not sure who could.
[3] Cliffed out is a term that means "to be in such a technical area that one could neither go up nor down.” This is really easy to do near the summit, and I ended up having to re-summit, (a couple of times), due to an errant descent route terminating at the top of a steep drop-off, to start over and make sure I was oriented in the proper direction.
[4] Some notes on what a "Class 3 scramble" is: According to Wikipedia: "Exposure is a climbing and hiking term. Sections of a hiking path or climbing route are described as "exposed" if there is a high risk of injury in the event of a fall because of the steepness of the terrain. If such routes are negotiated without any protection, a false step can result in a serious fall".
[5] Which were non-trivial. It might be worth noting that I have a moderate fear of heights.