Monday, January 12, 2009

Red Top Mt 1.12.09

I had hoped to do this last week, but with the extreme avalanche potential I thought better of it. I was happy to see the weather on the East side was going to be improved. My big worry was the conditions of 97 before Blewett Pass. I was sure the road was closed on the North side but I hadn't heard anything regarding the South side. As it turns out my choice was the last available option before the road is closed. There is substantial damage from the Teanaway river which has reduced the road to a half lane. Further along the road is roadblocked at the junction the junction where 97 heads to Ellensburgh. I decided to disregard the roadblock and keep on going. The road is closed at Mineral Springs which worked for me because the road I intended on using is just a short ways to the North. I parked at the restaurant and suited up. The weather was much warmer than expected so much of my clothing stayed stowed in my pack. I chose to use skis as today's mode of transportation. I am not the most experienced skier so I felt like the 16 mile round trip may be a little exuberant. I thought I might need snowshoes for the last portion to reach the look out but I was concerned about carrying on my pack. I was sure the descent could be littered with falls and I was trying to avoid skewering myself. There were a few tricky portions because of the previous week's heavy rain but for the most part the going couldn't have been better. There was enough snowmobile traffic on the lower portions to make trailbreaking unnecessary. As I climbed higher I was forced to plough through 6" of snow. This actually spurred me on because I felt like this cushion my falls as well as making it easier to control my speed on the long descent. I reached the Red Top Campground with fading legs. I dropped skis and pack and trudged toward the lookout. I was surprised that the final portion looked more than just a simple walk-up. I was able to find the trail to the lookout but with the soft unbroken snow I was unable to make much progress. My ski boots are not very suitable for these type of conditons. When I found the sign showing 1/2 mile to the summit I deflated and decided that a return trip in the Summer with the family similar to the one I did to Lion Rock was in order. I won't feel too bad adding this summit to my Back Court climbed list by driving nearly to the summit since I certainly put in the effort. I had a quick bite and then was off for the dreaded descent. I am not very tolerant or adept of speed on skis so I was concerned. As it turns out the descent went better than I would have hoped for. I only fell once on the lower portions when I decided to see how fast I could really go. I was very pleased with the day's events and look forward to trying something somewhat longer next week.




Approx 16 miles 2500 ft of climb 6 hours car to car

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