Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Dungeon 3.2.10

When it comes to obscure you can't beat Peakbagger.com for ideas. While Dungeon would be well up the list of Homecourt 100 peaks it just lacking the benchmark prominence of 500'. With 400' of clean prominence it seemed a worthy objective. Dungeon can readily be seen from Snoqualmie pass . I believe this is the play where it derives it's name. I have to admit it took me a while to make the connection. While Dungeon sounds like a cool name for a peak it doesn't really make any literal sense. I believe that the it is a play on it's taller neighbor Rampart Ridge and the dungeon does tend to be below the castle's ramparts. If I had my choice I would have tried a day earlier when the forecasted weather seemed more cooperative, but alas we don't always get the best option. So with today's messy forecast I picked up Bruce in Preston and we were off. The drizzle evaportated into some sunny weather as we crested the pass. It seems every time I use the road that parallels on the North side of I-90 I have to park further back. There was very little snow on the road that was "closed" as much as I wanted to subtract some of the mindless road walking I for once obeyed. The road where there was snow was packed down by heavy snowmobile use the going was fast. Soon we reached our first junction and continued straight instead of following the main line. This road leads to the fisherman's trail that I have used to acess Lake Lillian and today would be our route of choice. After two hours we reached the dogleg in the road where the roads starts back to the South and here we continuted North. I half expected firm snow conditions but instead we had soft heavy snow so we shoed up. I led us best I could by memory of where I thought the trail went. I erred a bit and was following a feeder stream instead of the main water course coming from Lake Laura. We did a uncomfortable traverse across snow bridges to hit the crusty snow under the trees. Soon the going got icy and steep giving me much concern for our descent. We reached a small flat area and stopped to catch our breaths. I was able to see some signs that we were on route so I led us up a small sub ridge to some more steep areas. Feeling pretty sapped already I stopped and ate a quick lunch. Thankfully I was able to see a small gap to aim for that I surmised was the route to the lake. Once at the lake the views were worth the effort that we had expended so far.

Even though rationally I knew walking on the lake was safe I had a hard time venturing too far out on the ice. Once back on solid ground we caught our first glimpse of our summit. After crossing the outlet and another gap we were finally on open slopes. After about 200' of gain we hit a short nearly vertical slope that I could not make with my snowshoes on so I retreated a dropped the snowshoes and my pack. Once over this steep portion the grade slacked for a short ways until we reached a buttress that we bypassed on it's North side. Here again the pitch steepened and I found renewed legs. Once around the buttress the slope again slackened and I could see what I thought was the summit close at hand. The views were just beginning to open up.

Again the grade steepened which was much easier than the postholing in the flatter areas. I reached a corniced edge which I went around and finally saw our summit another 150' above us with again lesser slope. I was a bit demoralized because I thought we were about to top out so I had Bruce take over trailbreaking for the last push to the summit. Thankfully we reached the summit for some impressive views.

Running low on time I pushed the pace back to the lake and soon were making our descent back to the valley below. I wanted to avoid the icy stretches so I aimed for some more open areas of softer snow that I had avoided on the way up. I had a short tense face in descent of a slabby watercourse with rotten snow but that was a small price to pay to avoid the iced over steeper sections. Soon we were back on the road for the long slog out. For good measure the weather had been much more agreeable than expected but our luck ran out as it poured the last 4 miles back to the car. Thanks to Bruce for making this trip a success I am rather doubtful that I would have made it solo. Another wonderful day to be out. Even though the vertical on this trip was only moderate it was a very taxing day.

Approx 13 miles 3200' of climb 8:30 car to car

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