Tuesday, January 25, 2011

McDonald Mountain 3570' 2190P' (Attempt) 1.25.11

 I was hoping to do something substantial today but I was unable to hook up with any partners. With this is mind I set my sights a little lower and hoped to take advantage of others hard work by pirating their route up Quartz. I had plans Monday night that involved a private cigar bar. I knew today's plan were in trouble when the limo the group rented with a fully stocked bar. A good time was had by all but this provided me a later night than what I had hoped. My daughter also had her presentation on France due in the morning so I spent the morning prepping her for her first time standing in front of the class. When it was time for her to go I was surprised that she wasn't ready, even after repeated prompting. Once she decided she was ready she ran past the front door and try to hide behind the Washing machine. Evidently she was more than a bit nervous about her big day. After some careful coaxing she regained her normal form. This was an interesting event to watch my 5 year old go through. Since it was now nearly one I new I had to further pare down my day. I did some research and found McDonald Mt and it's nearly 2200' of prominence despite it's lowly 3500+ elevation. Since I new that I would be well into darkness on my return I felt like this would be a good one to pursue since it was all going to be on road.

   By the time I found the trailhead and parked it was 3Pm, I figured that would give me enough time to make the 6 miles to the summit before dark. I carried my normal pack with enough extra clothes to ward off any weather. It looked like it could do just about anything and I didn't want to be stranded in the dark without enough gear. I did wear trail running shoes to hopefully allow for a quicker pace. Just as I was about to leave a couple of trucks came through the gate and I verified that I indeed was on the right road. I pushed the pace on the good road. I made sure to call my wife when she picked up my daughter to find out the results of her big day. I was so proud to hear that she stood tall and was loud and proud as she hit all the points that we had worked on. Part of me felt like she wasn't really paying attention when I was working with her, I guess that all she needs. Being very relieved and quite proud of my little one it helped me up the pace. Soon I reached the borrow pit and the gate that is just past it. I continued past the gate instead of staying on the mainline. I was happy to see some footprints in the some of the remaining patchy snow. It always comforts me to find others out in this hard to explain pursuit. I passed the towers and continued on the rapidly degrading road. Soon the road ended but I found a corridor through the trees into some open timber. I then reached a clear cut that was choked with slippery fallen timber, thankfully this was short lived and I rejoined another road. Since this area provided some good views I thought I would take some pictures of the impending sunset and some of the cloudy views. I thought I would change into some drier clothes and get my headlamp out that I would soon need. Of course I had forgotten that I had taken the headlamp to work on something. Note to self: when planning a night exit you might want to make sure that you have your headlamp.

   Since I had another mile to go and would assure me of having to go through the clear cut without light I decided that I needed to head back. Once back on the road I ran much of the descent until the last of the light faded away. Without much light I throttled back the pace. I was able to well enough to avoid the few obstacles that presented themselves. It was kind of fun to bump my way along thankfully forgetting my lamp was not too much of  a blow. I think I will return when the regional snow level is low and ski to the true summit. The views are well worth the boring road walk.

Approx 10 miles 2500' of climb 3:15 car to  car

A few pictures here:


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2773' 353'P 1.18.11

Well the best laid plans seem for me never to work quite the way I envision them. Today was a fine example of that. I had planned on doing Crosby Mt. with a group of 4 but one by one they all dropped off. I didn't feel like Crosby would be a good trip solo under the current conditions so I thought of a back up plan. I have enjoyed my exploring of the South side of I-90 and thought another trip was in order. I planned on doing Cabin Mt which is approached by using the Cabin Creek exit. When I printed my map  I knew I should have made it larger which had a negative impact on this day. I had ended my map just a short ways before the road crossing of the Yakima River. The approach to this point was longer than what I had expected. When I reached an area just past the last houses that had tape stretched across the road I turned around and parked as best I could. Not knowing I was still quite a ways from the Yakima river I suited up. The tape was to draw attention to the culvert that is partially washed out on the downstream side. The damage is extensive but would have allowed me enough good road to make my way around it had I chose that option.

  As I was suiting up I talked to a couple who was leaving their house. I asked them if I had parked far enough out of harms way. I didn't know for sure what their reaction was going to be. The seemed quite pleased that I was out and that lessened my anxiety. I was displeased with the condition of the road for walking. It was a sheet of slippery ice and I had to take great care not to slip. After walking a couple of miles I finally reached my map. By this time I realized that in order for this day to go I had needed to drive further along than I had. I had to be back so adding all this extra time would not allow me a summit of Cabin Mt. I did see a point that surely was on the quad because it had considerable prominence. I decided that climbing anything was preferable than not climbing anything. So I strapped my snowshoes on and left the road. I found easy going among the trees and after a 200' of climb I reached a road that wound to the North side. I left this road and regained the ridge that came to a nice distinct spine. The spine was free of snow so I had to take of the shoes to continue. I gingerly made my way along the slippery rocks until I came to the summit. Instead of retracing my route I opted to drop to the North side. I could see the right of way for the power lines below me and I thought upon reaching that I could head West to regain the road much closer to the car. I had a tougher time than what I expected to make my way down the first 200' because it was steep for short portions and the snow was very rotten and undercut on this side of the hill. The heavy rains did a number on this side and made for very tedious travel. Finally I decided to reapply the snowhoes which was most helpful. Once reaching the lower slopes I headed west and descended towards the road. The going was open and enjoyable. I was concerned that since I was again off my map that I may make it down to road level and be thwarted by the river. Well that is exactly what happened. Thankfully there was a nice bench along the river and I was able to head North until I reached the road. I made the short ways back to the car without incident. The washout portion of the road seemed to have worsened in my absence and I couldn't help but think maybe driving over it was a wise choice. I did see fresh truck tracks in the snow and the tape was gone. I hope that they are able to get out without issue.

Approx 4 miles 600' of climb

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mount Catherine and Mount Hyak 1.11.11

 With another chance to get out before the impending week long dump of snow I wanted to get out. ONELUV1 was available along with his friend Fletcher so we shoehorned all the gear and the dog and we were on our way. I had read a recent report of a large group doing Catherine and since I didn't know the area I thought it would ease route finding along with not having to break trail. Over the years I have read many reports of Catherine and I never really paid attention to the specifics of the route. I somehow thought I would park and the route would be lit up with lights. Well of course that isn't the case and I spent way too much time getting us on route. The upside however was that we missed the creek crossing that looked like so much fun. Once I finally was able to find the route we were about half way to Windy Pass. Thankfully I was able to use the groomed runs avoiding any unneeded trail breaking. We were very careful to stay on the margins so that we wouldn't upset any of the laid skin tracks. I would guess by now that is a pretty moot point with all the new snow.

    Once on the heavily trodden track my spirts lifted. I had been quite aggravated with myself for not doing enough research. It is one thing when I am out on my own and I am the only one that suffers. It is something else when two others are dependant on my choices. The route to Windy Pass was much longer than I had anticipated and it was surprisingly full of ups and downs. We quickly were able to reach the ridge and this portion seemed to go on forever. Most of the time it seems like we were just traversing but finally the steep last push appeared and we finished it off. The winds which had been horrendous as we suited up had diminished but returned with a vengeance at the summit. This cut our summit stay short. Just before the descent to Windy Pass we had a short lunch thankfully sheltered from any of the biting wind.

  Again the way back to the groomed runs seemed endless but we decided that we had enough time to make our way up Mount Hyak as well. We retraced our road walk until we hit a junction that led us to the top of the chairs. I had expected this to take much longer but soon we were on the top. Since the runs were not running we decided to just head straight down the ski run back to the car. While we had only seen one skier earlier in the day we saw a few groups on the way down. I was surprised that 3 of the skier/snowboarders had dogs with them. I wouldn't have thought dogs would make good company on this type of endeavor but judging by the groups we saw I was wrong. The runs were an interesting descent, I had hoped to be able to glissade to the bottom but the slopes were a mix of icy snow and pockets of knee deep powder. It actually made for an annoying descent. But alas it was much quicker and shorter than heading back the way we had come.

All in all it was a good day and was very cold and very windy at times. It was nice to meet Fletcher who I hadn't met before. It sure is hard to keep up with someone half my age. Thanks both to ONELUV1 and Fletcher for providing great company on this day. And also a very big thanks to the large group of NWhikers who laid the amazing trench. It was very interesting to follow after a large group. I certainly don't remember having such an easy path as today.

Approx 9 miles 3100' of climb 6 hours car to car.

   See the full set of pictures here:


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 year in review

Here are my stats for the year along with a comparison to years past:

Well I was pretty stoked to see my numbers until I read some of yours, wow I feel like I am not doing nearly enough.
anyway my count:

49 Trips
36 New Peaks
379 Miles
133,100 Gain
compared to the last 2 years

2007:Here are my modest numbers:
351 miles
110,000 Vert Climb
9 backcourt peaks
4 homecourt peaks
5 other summits
10 lessons learned

2008 total summits: 36
Home Court 100    4
Back Court 100    16
378 miles
115,100 ft of climb
42 trips

A few thoughts on the past year:

I ended last year with a desire to try my hand at Randonee skiing. While the ascents went well the descents proved to be way beyond by ability and I thought it best to shelve it for the time being. I was pleased that I was able to sell by setup for more than twice what I had paid for it taking some of the sting out of the purchase. The new year started with a resolve to try put more of a focus of my climbing. I have always been able to get out on a regular basis but I wanted to make it even more steady and try to improve my rate of summit success. Based on this alone my year was a success.

 I was blessed with an usual snow year that provided very high regional snow levels allowing summits that I wouldn't have been able to attempt in the Winter most years. In most cases being able to drive further up the road allowed less walking assuring more success. I was able to string together quite  a few new summits early in the year providing some confidence. Early Spring came with some heavy snows making most summits out of the question. Thankfully some others hard work allowed me to piggyback on their hard work. Once May came along I had to shut it down to provide help on the home front allowing my wife to work. This time off set my fitness back and I struggled in late Spring to catch my stride. With the nice weather I was able to keep marking off my lists and regained some of my fitness.

  Summer allowed for another string of successful trips, although weather did kill my first overnighter which didn't allow any of the many summits I had planned for that trip. Late in the season I tried for another epic trip only to be thwarted by cool and wet weather. This didn't allow me to cross off any of the five summits I had planned for that day. Thankfully September came and allowed me some better luck. I had a memorable summit of Jim Hill and looked forward to finishing the year off strong. I cranked out my longest day ever which was a source of great accomplishment but it was tempered with losing my faithful climbing Beagle. This was deeply moving and I had a rough time coping. I believe it was not so much losing of the Beagle but more of my feelings of not doing enough to prevent it. As in the past I had a strong sense to push on to honor the lost little buddy. Fall brought some more great summits highlighted by Atrium Peak on a most perfect fall day. As I shifted into the Winter months I had some struggles trudging through waist. deep snow for summits of Red Mountain and Finn Peak. I had a fun stretch where I put the car into the ditch and with much surprise I was able to extricate it with my trusty  snow shovel. I finished off the year marking off some scrub peaks off some of the quads in my area.

As a general feeling I am much pleased with the year and how it turned out. I eagerly look forward to this coming year and even though it is very much in it's infancy I feel very hopeful for another year of great summits and all the good feeling that go along with it.


Monday, January 3, 2011

South Cle Elum Ridge West 5040', 4665' 1.3.11

After a very hectic weekend I really needed to get out. I wasn't able to go out on Tuesday so today it was. I normally  don't like to go on Mondays because the thought of an early wake up time in never appealing after finishing my work week. I had expected my wife to get up early and when she didn't neither did I. I was hoping to do Arrowhead because I was waiting a stellar day like today to make sure I made the most of the views. With my much later than expected departure I didn't feel like I had the time for that so I looked for a back up plan. I have been spending a lot of time recently in Cle Elum so I thought I would give that another shot. I was hoping to do Hick's Butte and the West End of South Cle Elum Ridge both needed to be crossed of the quad.

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