Monday, April 16, 2007

The Barrier 4.16.07

The Barrier is located just to the SW of Stevens Pass. I wasn't looking for an overly long day today so this fit the bill for a half day. I parked at the uppermost Stevens Ski Area parking lot and booted up the access road. I decided after the road steepened to break out the ice axe. The road was very icy I could probably used crampons. I managed to kick step enough toe holds to make some fairly quick elevation gain. When I reached the terminus of the lift I switched to snowshoes. I passed the uppermost of the Grace Lakes and started a climbing traverse to attain The Barrier's North Ridge. The snow was mixed with mostly firm crust that made for easy walking but there were some areas of very soft snow in the steeper more open areas. I reached the summit with little trouble and contemplated continuing on the ridge ESE to Cowboy Mt. I decided to try just to see how it would go. For some inexplicable reason I descended Barrier's SW ridge. I began to wonder why I had dropped 500ft + of elevation with out reaching the saddle. I realized my mistake and retraced my way back to the summit. I still can't understand how I could have made such an obvious mistake. I guess no harm no foul. I found following back in my footprints on the lower portion required vigilance because of the very heavy snowfall. There were stretches where my prints were completely covered with the new snow. I chose to descend on the terrain park that was not open because the snow conditions were better than the hard packed access road. Although it is a somewhat short hike and it is so close to the ski area it really has a nice backcountry feel.

approx 6miles 1800ft of climb with detours 3:45 car to car

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