Monday, February 25, 2013

Mt Washington KneeDeeper 2.25.13

I hadn't been up in the snow for 2 weeks and with the addition of quite a bit of new snow I was very wary of the risky conditions. Reading a few great reports of the snow conditions I thought it best to stay on something I had done before. After reading a report on Mt Washington from Sunday which relayed that there was quite a bit of traffic I was hopeful that I would be able to reach the summit and continue along the ridge to tag a few more lesser summits. The weather forecast for some blustery conditions and heading up I-90 only made that more believable. The trucks were having issues with lane travel with the strong gusty winds.

When I reached the Ollalie parking lot the weather was cold so I added an extra layer to ward of the chilly wind. The trail was in good shape without snow until 2000' ft. I remained in boots on the well worn track. I reached a portion where the trail traverses at around 3200' and blowing snow had filled the trench. I gave some thought to switching to snowshoes but I was sure that the trench would return shortly. Once regaining the trees the trench reappeared. At 3400' I finally put on the shoes. Soon after I reached the end of any broken trail and I was on my own. With the snow now well over my knees I thought it best to try to take the shortest route to the summit. I was able to find some open areas to make some very slow progress. The snow now was mid thigh and with the steeper pitch the task of climbing became quite arduous. I pushed on making very slow progress. Portions of the area were choked with small trees making the process even more difficult. I backtracked a few times to find the easiest path again resisting the urge to descend. At around 3800' I ran out of both open area and desire to continue.

On the descent I crossed paths with a young group of three who didn't have snowshoes. I tried to urge them to continue hoping with three they might have enough horsepower to at least gain the ridge. I am guessing however that they didn't continue to much further. I was pleased to get out and "enjoy " all the new snow.

Approx 7 miles 2800' of climb 4 hours car to car

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mt Washington and Pt 4320

I have grown weary of tromping around the Issaquah Alps and thought it might be time to get up a bit higher. I was loosely planning on doing Greenway Mountain that lies SE of Mt Washington. I parked at the Ollalie trailhead suprised with it being both warm and dry. I made my way up the  trail not hitting consistent snow until 2600'. There is a well worn trench that was easily navigated in boots without any added traction. Once I neared the summit the sun shone through and I thought I might get high enough to loose the clouds altogether but alas the sun was very shortlived. I didn't linger too long on the summit due to the biting wind. I headed SE dropping to the road that straddles the ridge.
  I switched to snowshoes since I was now on my own with no beaten path to follow. The snow was much better than what I had feared and I steamed East on the road. After a mile I joined up with the snowshoe track from a party earlier in the week who had made their way to Greenway. I found it much easier to avoid their track altogether since it had filled in with low density snow making slow going. Once below 4320' I decided that I would climb 4320' since I wasn't sure if I had enough time to make it all the way to Greenway. The going was steep and the trees were dense but I was able to top out without too much bother. In short order I made my way back to the road and retraced my steps back. Once reaching the point where the previous party had joined the road I followed North. I made my way to the saddle just past the unusual rock formation that was highlighted in the previous report. I didn't see a reasonable way down so I backtracked a short ways until I found something more suitable. For the descent I felt it would be better to take off the snowshoes for the steeper portion. I found the snow in the trees well suited for boots alone. The open areas were another story however. Thankfully I reached the valley floor and was  able to regain the trench. I had a nice peaceful walk back to the car.
Approx 10 miles 3900' of climb 5:30 car to  car

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