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:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/etecky/sets/72157625679000203/

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