Monday, March 25, 2013

Little Saint Helens 4582' 3.25.13

Little Saint Helens is located just South of I-90 West of the Hansen Creek drainage. I am unclear how the summit name was derived.


When I awoke I was pleased to see the weather sunny and windless. I managed an earlier than expected start so I wanted to pack some miles in to this day to try to make the most of my good fortune with the weather. However life had other plans for me and I had multiple issues making my arrival time at my jump off point well past 11 am. I had hoped to stay in shorts on this day but the cool weather on the lower slopes nixed that idea. I drove some ways on the very snow rutted Tinkham Road. I pushed some ways before deciding to park at a wide spot. I booted the road meeting the Hansen Creek Road. The road was travelled with some high clearance trucks, snowmobiles, skiers and some other people on foot. I did me best to stay out of the skier's skin tracks. At around 3000' the truck traffic ended making for more variable footing. The road arches into the next drainage providing my first view of the summit. I cut some of the switchbacks trying to shorten some distance.

Once reaching a junction I switched to snowshoes and headed for a short ways on a spur that hadn't had any traffic. After a 1/4 mile I left the road fighting my way through some smaller trees. As I climbed the path became more and more open. Thankfully the snow had a good base and only the top 6 inches was like a slurpee. I picked a mostly straight line for the 700' of climb needed to gain the summit ridge. Once cresting the ridge I was able to see that the area had 3 distinct points with the middle being the summit. I made my way along the mostly flat ridge to access the short climb to the true summit. It appeared that the summit was totally treed but I was thankful that there was wonderful views to the North.

After soaking in some sun along with the views regretfully I had to head back. I followed my route about halfway along the ridge before dropping to the East. I did a descending traverse to reach my ascent route. The upper slopes where steep enough that I switched back my way down until I reached the lower slopes that where much lower angled. Back the road I did my best to keep a good pace. A very nice day to be out.

Approx 12 miles 4:45 car to car 3000' of climb

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mount Washington Postern Route 3.11.13

The plan was to summit Change Peak via my descent route from last week's summit of Greenway Peak. I had to wait until my wife returned from an obligation in the morning before I could leave. With an evening plans also I needed something close and efficient. I also was expecting some rainy weather to move in so I wanted to avoid that if I could. I parked again at the Olallie Trailhead and suited up. Since it was warm I left off a layer. I left the car and headed straight into the brush for the short jaunt to the access road above. I made good time to the point where I had rejoined the trail the week prior. I gave some thought to putting on snowshoes but I thought I would see first how it would go without. Staying in my faint track was provided enough support to leave the shoes attached to my pack. While it wasn't raining enough water was dripping off the trees to warrant adding some rain gear. I enjoyed the feel of the mostly untracked snow to the ridge above. Once reaching some open slopes I diverged from my previous descent to use the more open but much steeper slopes. I was able to reach the road very near the striking rock formation on the ridge.

I stopped for a short break and made my way North to see what lay ahead. I could see another 200' above me before the cloud deck obscured my view. The 200' I could see appeared to be an easy jaunt, but without being able to see the remaining elevation I had an internal debate. In the end I decided that I would rather summit Change Peak in better weather in order to captialize on the views. I turned my attention to climbing further on the road to rejoin the route I had layed last week. I also new of another party who had made there way from Washington to Greenway so I knew that I would have a beaten path all the way to Mt Washington. Once reaching the more recent path the pace quickened. After reaching the summit there was a variety of ways to descend. I was even able to have a short glissade on the way down. I was at least 30 minutes behind my optimum time so I did my best to keep a good pace. The upper portions of the trail however where slippery and required vigilance. I did manage to cross pass with my wife before she left and was able to meet her for our evening plans.

Approx 8.5 miles 3600' of climb 4:15 car to car

Monday, March 4, 2013

Greenway Mountain 3.4.13

With the stellar forecasted weather I wanted to get out and enjoy the sun while I had the chance. After floundering through so much deep snow last week I hoped to find some consolidation and easier going. I thought I would hedge my bets and head up the Mount Washington Trail again. It seems to get enough traffic to keep the trailbreaking to a minimum. I again parked at the Ollallie trailhead and instead of taking the trail to the accss road I went straight into the woods and popped out in short order on the road. The snow started around 1800' and with all the traffic the footing was quite good. The sun was filtered but it was very nice to say the least. The wind would kick up once in a while. It was interesting to see the gusts move through the trees blowing the snow off them in the process. I watched one gust for quite some time move accross the basin above me. It isn't often that one gets the opportunity to actually see the wind. I made good progress and soon I found myself at the point where I had left the trai the week before. I had two options, I could follow the trail or follow some flagging that was added since last week. The flagging lead the direction that I had gone last week so I chose to follow that. In short order the trail ended and I was stymied by some closely knit small trees. I could see open slopes just beyond the thicket and since I was planning on heading SE to Greenway peak I decided to head for the the road above me. The going was mostly open and even though the slopes were open it appeared that the snow above was safe from coming down upon me. I did try to stay closer to the trees to give myself an added cushion.

After a short ways I passed a long gully that headed up towards Mt Washington I instead crossed this gulley and headed into the trees aiming for a small saddle above me. The snow was receptive and while the trees were close together it was a pleasant ascent to the road above. Once reaching the road I headed East. The snow was better than expected and I stayed mostly under the drip line of the trees finding better snow. I soon passed the point I had climbed a few week's earlier. With the sunny weather I was able to see my destination looking a long ways off. I stayed on the road dropping some precious elevation reaching a open area where I dropped pack. I knew I had to hustle if I was going to make the summit and back home in time for dinner. I made really good time despite it looking so far away. I could see some older tracks in the snow that left the road where I was planning on leaving. I climbed the short steep pitch to get myself on the summit ridge. Once on the ridge I headed South towards Greenway's summit. It appeared to be possible to stay directly on the ridge but I chose to traverse a short ways on the West side before climbing the last bit to the open summit. Plenty of views where to be had. I especially liked the view down towards the reseviour. With so much distance yet to cover I didn't linger long. I made quick work back to my pack. I followed my ascent route until I reached the junction with the road that heads North towards Change Peak. I dropped off the ridge in the same spot as my last visit. This time I left my snowshoes on which was a bit awkward but I was able to find easy travel. I followed my tracks that I could make out in the snow despite being some time ago that I was there. Once regaining the trench I stopped only long enough to take off my snowshoes and repack them. The descent back to the car was most pleasing. I was thankful to have such a nice day to be out and to be able to make another summit.

Approx 10.5 miles 4200' of climb 6 hours car to car


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