Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monahan East 3525' 4.16.13

I didn't have a full day this week so I needed something low key. With the recent avalanche tragedies I left my house with a heavy heart. I wasn't overly concerned about the conditions being unsafe but I surmised the going would be slow and arduous whatever I was going to chose to do. I decided to head towards Easton hoping for somewhat better weather and snow conditions. I have done a few recent trips in the Tucker Creek drainage so I thought some more exploring would be a good fit. I found the gate open allowing access to the Tucker Creek area by car. I drove past the turn towards the creek and instead crossed under the power lines climbing steeply. After a short ways the road became covered in snow and not wanting to risk getting caught on the wrong side of the gate I turned around and parked on the correct side of the gate. Since the weather had been pretty foul coming over the pass I decided to put on snow pants and my lighter boots since I thought it likely that I would be on a packed road most of the day.

The weather was actually pleasant with filtered sun as I made my way up the packed road. I didn't really look at my map so I was surprised that the road didn't connect with the Tucker Creek road as I has surmised. The road instead climbed towards Monahan Mountain. I had climbed Monahan before coming from the West. I thought it would be interesting to give it a go from the East, especially since I didn't have time for much of anything else. After a couple of miles I left the mainline of the road to an unbroken road climbing towards my intended goal. The snow was deep and very heavy so I switched to snowshoes. Eventually I left the road entirely to reach the ridgeline. The going was straightforward and quite benign. I rejoined another road for a short ways before leaving it to climb towards 3525'. Once reaching this point I could see Monahan proper across the way but since I had already been there I settled for the Eastern sub summit as my finish line. The views towards Lake Easton and Easton itself were worthy of the effort to get to the summit.

I return mostly via the route of my ascent. Right on cue when I had to drop pack to stow my snowshoes it began to snow and blow so I layered up. The squall was short lived and by the time I got back to the car it was sunny again.

Approx 6 miles 1600ft of climb 3 hours car to car

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Scout Lake ( Hansen Creek Drainage) 4.9.13

I have been doing some exploring of the Hansen Creek drainage of late and I was hoping to do Abiel Peak via this drainage. I was able again to only drive as far as the tressel on the Hansen Creek Road. I was surprised that there was another rig already parked. I decided to switch back to my winter boots since I was going to do the bulk of the day off the packed road. The weather was cloudy but thankfully dry and the temps were pleasant. I stayed in shorts and a light coat for the balance of the day. I had some appointments in the morning so I didn't park until a little after noon.

I booted the rapidly thawing road until just BEFORE the road crosses Hansen Creek. There is a spur road heading South that I had spied in my previous recent visits. Here the snow was untracked deep and wet so I switched to snowshoes. The road is moslty open but typical for this time of year there are numerous small creek crossing that are unnerving to cross over snow bridges. At the end of the road I angled higher to the more open slopes that I was able to see from the other side of the valley on my previous trips. I was able to find mostly open travel with the only defense being the heavy wet snow and a few more tedious creek crossings. Finally I reached the end of the open area and entered the mature forest. Some of the trees were very large adding a great deal of character to the route. In the drip line of the trees I found better snow conditions but I now I had to deal with the dripping trees. Seeing that I wasn't going to be able to make all the way to Abiel I was trying to find some motivation to continue. I hadn't been to Scout Lake before so I thought that would be a nice place to visit. I continued climbing until I thought I was about the same elevation as the lake and I began traversing looking for the lake. After finding an end to open areas that had appeared to be a likely spot for a lake I was stymied. I retraced my steps and climbed a bit higher before I was able to intersect the lake. I was thankful that I had continued because the lake was beautiful and I was able to see that my intended route to Abiel was a go. After a hasty lunch I retraced my steps to the car

Approx 6.5 miles 4 hours car to car 1900 ft of climb


Monday, April 1, 2013

Mount Gardner Via Hansen Creek 4.1. 13

With the weather holding out and being pleasant I thought it best to get out again. I had most of the day so I felt like something with some miles would be best for this day. I decided to use my route from last week's summit of Little Saint Helens to access Mount Gardner 2 miles further West. Last week I wasn't able to drive to the Hansen Creek Road before being blocked by rutted snow. I thought I would be able to get at least to Hansen Creek Road this week with the recent warmer weather. I was overjoyed when I was not only able to reach Hansen Creek but drive an addition mile or so. I was blocked by snow just uderneath the tressel high above the road. I turned around and parked trying to keep myself off the road as much as possible. It was quite warm so I only wore a tee shirt and shorts. I chose my lighter summer boots with the hope that it would make it easier to keep a faster pace than last week.

The road was rutted to around 3000' ft where the last truck had turned around. I switched to snowshoes in the soft snow. I found that my summer boots are not the best choice with my snowshoes and I spent some time trying to get my snowshoes affixed without causing some discomfort with the lighter boots. Finally I found the right set up and I made much faster time than last week. Once reaching the point where I had left the road to summit LSH I instead continued along the road loosing some elevation along the way. Once I rounded the corner I was able to see Mount Gardner and was able to spy a few different routes. I chose to stay on the road until I was able to reach the long angled SE ridge. After a short area off closely spaced trees I was able to find a nice open line crossing logging roads every so often. It did get a little steeper close to the summit but that still was quite pleasant.


The summit did provide some nice views and I quickly snapped some pictures and then retreated to lower slopes where there was much less wind. The decent was quite fun as I was able to do a controlled slide with each step making me feel like I was skating down the hill. In short order I was able to regain the road for the long grind back to the car. While this route certainly isn't the shortest it isn't nearly as involved as some of the reports I have read or using the Northern route. On the way down the clouds rolled in making a bit nippy . I added my coat to ward off the chill.

Approx 11 miles 3100 ft of climb 5:15 car to car

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