Sunday, October 26, 2008

K9 10.26.08

K9 has been on my hit list for some time. Because the Tunnel Creek Trail provides short access it fit the day because of time constraints. With another beautiful day on tap I felt like it was a good choice. With a new job stealing valuable time in the hills I didn't feel great as I made my way up the easy grade of the Tunnel Creek Trail. The trail allows some stunning views of K9's impressive North face.

I struggled most of the way to Hope Lake, I could easily think of a million reasons to bag the day. Despite my weak minded day I pressed on. There was substantial snow on the PCT but not too much to make following it difficult.

I was starting to feel a little better when I reached an open area around 5200'. I have read many reports of climbing K9, but none gave anything but generic route info. I felt like that meant the going is pretty straightforward. I dropped pack and made my way up the open heather above the PCT. I was thankful that because of the Southern exposure most of the snow was melted out. I climbed for about 200' and was thwarted by some cliff bands. I did know that the East Ridge is the more challenging side so I did a rising traverse Westward. The going was easier than expected but I still wasn't sure I would make the summit. After another 400' of vertical I started back East. One area was steep enough to warrant using some branches to help my way up. Before I knew it I slipped sliding down more than 20' before I was able to arrest myself. Thankful that I was able to stop myself and missed out on the pleasure of having a tree do it for me. I did chuckle a little when I righted myself in time to see the Beagle,who I had dislodged, sliding on his back. I was thankful he to was able to stop himself without any injuries. After I brushed myself off a curious thing happened. Instead of using it for a excuse to cut short the day I found it the impetus to finish the climb off. I was able to reach the East ridge without difficulty and was dismayed to find just enough snow on the heather to make each step suspect. Lucky for me the grade in not great and the runout is good, so I pressed on. I reached a deep notch in the ridge and thought I was stymied but I found an easy way around. Once around the notch I traversed until I was under what I thought was the summit. I easily topped out only to find that I was on the lower East summit. The route to the true summit was easy and I had no problem reaching it. I was unable to find a register. I snapped a few pictures and was off for the descent.

I had to go quite slow in some areas because of the snow conditions but I had no issues making my way back to my pack. I was happy to pop back out on the PCT directly on my pack. The temperature started dropping quickly as I made my way back to the car. I was happy that even with substantial foot traffic the trail is quite passable without traction aid. Another wonderful day in the mountains!

Approx 8 miles 3500' of climb 5:30 car to car

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