Friday, December 12, 2008

Ugly Duckling 12.12.08

With an unexpected window of opportunity mated with some benign weather I thought I would give this one a go. I had hoped to get an early start but as usual that was a problem. Lucky for me my boss allowed me to come in a little later prompting me at least to make an effort. As I made my way over Snoqualmie Pass I really wasn't sure about the road conditions on East Lake Kachess Road or Gale Creek Road. I was hoping to at least be able to drive to the start of the GCR. I really was on more of a joy ride than anything else. As it is sometimes things just happened to work out perfectly. I was able to drive all the way to the spur road that I intended on using for my ascent. Well, now I felt pretty confident for success. In fact I am sure I could have driven nearly to my jump off point of the spur road. Not wanting to push my luck I parked and geared up. There was bare road and compact snow from previous snowmobile travel which made the walking pleasant. I could see enough to realize that snowshoes could stay stowed in the car. I hadn't bothered to print a map but I just chose each intersection that seemed to make the most sense. I followed a branch that dead ended and just left the road and climbed in the mostly open forest. The snow was bonded fairly well with the ground and made for good footing so the progress quickened. I crossed another spur road and continued climbing. Soon I was at the base of the summit block. Looking at the map you might guess it an easy walk up summit from every side which is not the case. I knew that the standard route is from the East ridge but me being me, thought it looked doable from the South. Which I am sure could be done but not by me with icy rock. I headed West just to see what was around the bend. There is no way to attack from there so I retreated and headed further East. I spied a route up on very crumbly, icy rock. I backed down after about 30' feet of unpleasantness. I resigned myself to just making for the East ridge which was a nice snowy slope to the tiny summit. I snapped some pictures and high tailed it to the car in order to make it to work. I decided that once back to the car I would continue on the road to connect to Snoqualmie Pass more directly. The climb over the small pass was nerve racking due to the very icy packed snow. Once over to the Snoqualmie Pass side there was much less snow and I was able to unclench. I ended up making it to work with plenty of time to spare. I am guessing that I will be the last car travelling this route until late spring.

Approx 6 miles 1800' of climb 2:15 car to car

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