Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lennox Mt (attempt) 2.2.11

With the great snow conditions paired with the stellar weather I was looking for a little larger day. A group was heading up Lennox so I thought I would tag along. I very rarely have company and never with a group of this size. It seems comical to me but I really didn't know what role to play. I parked at the end of the plowed Money Creek Road and Bruce was already there. I have done more than a few hikes with Bruce so I was happy to see a familiar face. One by one the rest of the crew joined us and we started walking around 8am. I had hoped a little earlier start but I felt like we still had plenty of time. One in the group had made an attempt over the weekend so this saved a lot of time because we were able to find a suitable crossing quicker and I was able to follow their snowshoe tracks saving much route finding. The crossing of Money Creek wasn't without it's adventure. Bruce tried to just rock hop across and met with some very slippery rocks. Luckily he managed to stay upright and mostly dry. I was able to find a log to shimmy across that did a quite a number on my snowpants making them quite airy. Luckily I am through having kids as well since the log was intent on keeping me from having any more.

   Once across I was able to pick up the previous snowshoe track. It is very important to stay on the WEST side of Goat Creek until about 2/3 of the way to the waterfalls. I have heard horror stories of this route regarding the man eating brush. I will say the route we took was virtually brush free. In a heavy snow year I doubt you would have to even dodge any brush at all. Once we neared the headwall I headed towards the rockslide while the rest of the group held a more Easterly track. I dropped some gear which at the time didn't seem would pose any issues later. I did think later that I would probably been better leaving it an area that would be easier to spot on the descent. This became much more of an issue later. I quickly ascended 400' before I hit the snow finger I was aiming for. I stopped to add crampons which were absolutely needed. I was able to zig zag my way up missing most of the brush. We regrouped at 3200' and I headed West on a rising traverse and I couldn't believe how quickly I reached the impressive Goat Basin. In fact I was nearly 100' above the lake. The sun peaked over the ridge and I enjoyed a sun filled snack. After about 20 minutes I called and I didn't get a response. I feared that the group either decided to descend or somehow traversed below me without my noticing. I backtracked quite a ways yelling and received no replies. I decided to drop to the lake and at least get a bearing on the next step of the climb. I walked across the frozen lake and then walked across the Western Lake and kicked steps up to small flat area. I noticed that there were no tracks below me so I no knew that the group was indeed behind me. Thinking that they must have turned back I retraced my lake hopping and just as I was nearing the larger lake I spotted the group coming towards me.  Evidently they had climbed too high and then had to backtrack to reach the lakes.

    Once we regrouped I led the way kicking steps straight up the steepish slope. The snow in the trees was perfect and while it was steep the elevation kept ticking away. Once we reached more open slopes the snow had a 6" of powder on a firm base. Neil took over trailbreaking. I couldn't help but notice our distinctly different methods of climbing. I tend to head straight up a slope keeping the switchback to a minimum while Neil likes his switchbacks. I tried to give him some breaks but I didn't manage to help out for more than a few short portions. The terrain is interesting it is comprised of enumerable swales that have be circumvented. The grade isn't overly steep but it seems to go on for ever. Once the small saddle appeared in the ridge just West of Lennox I was happy to see the sun peeking through the gap like a shiny beacon to aim for. I started to grow very concerned about our timeframe. I had already passed my turn around time but the group was intent on continuing so I didn't say anything.  I soon realized that there was no way that I was going to summit much before 4pm making it certain that we would be heading out in the dark. This realization took the wind out of my sails. I had been very concerned for the descent from Goat Basin to the valley floor because the conditions were very icy. Plus I didn't want to try and find my stashed gear in the dark. I bid everyone adieu and was quite surprised that no one else wanted to turn back.  The descent back to the lake went very quickly and I took a short break just above the North side of the lake. I followed my prints back to the icy finger that I used for my ascent. Truthfully I haven't used my crampons too many times and this was the first time I really needed them. I took this portion very slowly and was able to make it down without any issues. Once back on the rockslide I put the crampons away and turned my attention to finding my stowed gear. As it turns out it took my nearly 45 minutes to find it, sometimes I amaze myself with my lack of common sense. In my searching I added at least 400' of additional climbing.

   Once I repacked I just had to follow the snowshoe track in the fading light. I was able to stay mostly on route and really didn't have any issues. When I reached Money Creek I just walked straight across. I found some fun postholes as I made my way back to the road but I thankfully regained the road for the short mile back to the car. A couple guys in a Jeep passed me on my way out much to my surprise. Evidently they had become stuck and spent most of the day getting out. While no summit was reached the route went much better than I could have hoped for. I wouldn't even mind a repeat on this one.

Approx 8miles 4000' of climb 10 hours car to car.

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