Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Howson Creek 1.19.10

After my recent escapades on skis I was eager to trade my skis in for my climbing boots. I wasn't enthused with the weather forecast so I thought it best to head East. I managed to miss getting wet by any rain. The lack of rain was accompanied by warm weather which turned to the snow flocked trees into my personal sprinkler system. The plan was to use the very seldom used Howson Creek Trail which is just past the Cle Elum River Campground. There is a nice area to park on the West side of the road. There is a small marker which would be very easy to miss. I was shocked to find a car already parked and the trail looks to be well travelled. I doubt that this trail see much action during the height of the season so I was very surprised to see a well worn path. I stayed on the trail to just before the trail crosses Howson Creek where I left the packed trail to make my own way. The snow was variable with some healthy crust which was not stout enough to hold my heft. The going was mostly open and only steep for short periods of time. The deeper snow was a little grueling but I just kept plugging away. Finally the ridge narrowed and I was nearing the top. The last 30' feet was very steep with very low snow coverage. I had to probe a few time for each step to make sure my ice axe had solid purchase. The top was an interesting formation that was narrow enough to cheval. I continued East since the drop was much shorter. I had hoped to continue on to Howson Peak just to the NE, but both my gas tank and time were running low. I instead traversed around the steeper portions and regained my ascent route. The descent went well and soon I found myself once again on the packed trail.

Approx 5 miles 2800' of climb 5:30 car to car

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