Monday, February 22, 2010

Bearscout 2.22.10

With company in town I had given up on going out this week. Much to my surprise my wife "suggested" I should go out and take advantage of the beautiful weather. Evidently cleaning house is much easier without two dogs and a husband to get in the way. Not to stare down good fortune I was out the door before she could change her mind. I had a plan just for this contingency and I made a quick stop to get some liquids.

I had an interesting exchange with the cashier Me " I will take one of those lottery tickets" Her " this one" Me "no that one isn't speaking to me" Her "so this one is" Me " yes it is". I went out and scratched it and not too surprising to me I won $50, which I went back in to redeem. I knew now I was going to have a great day.

The goal was Bearscout , an unnamed peak, Which lies above the head of Hansen Creek and derives it's name from the two lakes is watches over. Scout lake to the North and Bear Lake to the South. I had been up the Hansen Creek Road two weeks ago when I did Humpback so I knew I could drive to the 4wd road that I would use for my approach. The weather couldn't have been nicer and I only wore shirt and shorts for a Winter's summit, wow who would have thought. The initial portion of the road was melted with some ice but very passable. Soon the snow started and it was very firm making for easy going. I had read a few reports and I wasn't enthused with crossing Hansen Creek to get to Scout Lake and the reports of the West Ridge was the route I used. After reaching the end of the road I pushed through 300' of climb through small densely packed trees. I switched to crampons here as I crossed a small feeder creek. The trees became a litte farther spaced apart helping with the annoying factor. I drifted too far West and I popped out on a logging road at 4000' feet.

With the worst over I followed the road a short ways it's end. I angled to the SE to a wonderful stand of trees that had perfect cramponing snow. This mini glade was the highlight of the whole trip for me. The grade was easy and I quickly made the 400' to the West ridge. The rigde is open and had softer snow but nothing warranting putting snowshoes on that were to remain strapped to my back for the entire day. Most reports I read had all descended the East Ridge so I expected some sort of shenanigans but the ascent was very straightforward. At about 5000' I hit open snow slopes on the South side of the ridge. The footing was so great that I didn't bother to break out the ice axe. A slip here would have made for a long slide down. With such great snow and nothing to hinder my progress I quickly made it to the summit. I dropped pack and couldn't believe my good fortune to be on such a wonderful seat with such perfect weather. It was warm and calm and I didn't even have to add any layers.

After snapping quite a few pictures I retraced my steps back to the upper logging road. I was thinking that the reason most people descend the East ridge is to avoid the unpleasant portion of the upclimb to the West ridge. I had a brilliant idea to avoid this by walking the road at 4000' until I was closer to my car. This in the end went well but not without some tense moments. I walked for about a half mile where there were some steep snow slopes of bullet proof snow that I quickly descended only to find a small 25' cliff barring any further progress. I am sure that I could have found a way but I instead climbed 200' back to the road above me and walked for another half mile where I spied a mostly snowless descent with some open rockslide beneath that all going straight to the car. I took off the crampons and made my way down to a small basin and know I needed to drop through a swath of pygmy trees to access the rock slide beneath me. The snow was hard as a rock and I didn't want to take the time to put my crampons back on. Thankfully I reached the rocks slide which I rode to it's end and entered the more mature forest which was much more open and quickly I popped out on the road just feet from my car. Just a stunning day that I was overjoyed to be able to make it out.

Also the Hansen Creek road can only be accessed by using exit 42 and heading East on road #55. The usual route is closed for a logging operation.

Approx 6 miles 2400' of climb 5 hours car to car

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