Sunday, June 26, 2011

Little Kachess 5194' Kachess Beacon 4615'' 6.26.11

With the first day of a mini vacation underway I thought I would take an opportunity to get out. The weather was ideal, I had hoped to do a big day but I wasn't sure what time I would be free to leave so I played it by ear. I am still cautious with my foot but I wanted a day to at least give it a test. I had tried a couple times in the recent past for a winter ascent of Little Kachess 5194' which is the next bump along the ridgeline after Kachess Beacon and before the main summit of Kachess Ridge which is further North. I made good time to Easton and was stunned with the more than 15 cars at the Silver Creek/Easton Ridge Trailhead. I was expecting some crowding but not to this extent.

   I was able to make my way up the climber's trail that goes to Kachess Beacon. I had planned on staying on the Silver Creek Trail well into the basin before heading up. I made a last second change of plans and headed up the dusty climber's trail to the Beacon. The trail is very easy to follow and in mostly good shape. The flowers were out that helped distract myself from my overall lack of fitness. I was amazed that the on a previous trip that I was able to follow the trail perfectly  while it was buried under snow when I didn't even know it was there. I reached the Beacon in short order and met up with a group of 3 who had just returned from a short stab at following the ridge North. The Ridge is a pleasant walk with some meadowy areas and very minimal brush. I crested a small point and had to drop to the East steeply to hit consolidated snow. From here the route was plainly in site and I chugged up the fun ridge to the nice summit perch. I was unable to find a register. The views are bountiful and I found the West Cabin Creek Peak to be quite impressive. From my vantage point I was surprised that I was able to reach it's summit many years ago with very minimal issues. I snapped a few pictures and enjoyed the warm sun.

    I retraced my steps until I reached the area where I had dropped off the ridge and instead of regaining the ridge I merely did a descending traverse to the South. There is still plenty of snow on the Eastern side of the ridge and thankfully I was able to get just enough footing to make leaving my crampons in the car an non issue. I was able to reach dry land around 4400' which only lasted for a few hundred feet before I again reached snow in the basin. It seemed like I had descended forever and I hadn't been able to sniff out the trail under the snow. I wasn't overly concerned but I had to laugh as I spotted two young women on the trail just as I was about to step on to it.  I found out they were heading for the Beacon and weren't aware that the trail they were on didn't go there. I gave them some options and said my goodbyes. The basin seemed like an eternity of rotten snow and sketchy snow bridges and I was very thankful to finally reach the descent and leave the snow behind.

   It was a great day to be out and I was thankful that there were no bugs which I don't believe will last too much longer. The foot was pretty gimpy for the last mile but it seems to be fine this evening

Approx 8 miles 3100' of climb 4:45 car to car

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