Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Green Mt. North Bend 4.1.14

With the nicer than expected weather I chose to stay close to home. I grew up on the Middle Fork and I feel a bit negligent that I haven't climbed Green Mt.  A few years back I tried the East Ridge from the CCC road and was fine until I reached 3000' and was nearly swallowed by some serious voids in the snow. As was today I was solo and it was more than unnerving. I had read some recent reports from Green last week so it was again on my radar. I hadn't been on the connector trail that starts just after the Middle Fork Road crosses the Snoqualmie. I didn't see the trail initially so I had to turn around. The trail starts a mere few feet from the bridge so it couldn't be easier to find once you know. I started off with too many layers as it seemed to warm quickly as I headed up. The trail is in good shape and passes some huge trees and some even bigger stumps. This alone was worth the drive. After crossing a creek the pitch increases which I was pleased because I knew I had to climb 4000' to meet my objective. In short order I reached the CCC road where I went right for 20' to reconnect with the trail.

This portion of the trail was also in good shape and it spit me out onto the road I wanted. I headed right on the old road that has degraded into an easy trail. The elevation adds up quickly on this portion. There are some wonderful views to East. Russian Butte and Garfield are the stars here. The added bonus is none of the logging roads that scar Zorro ridge can be seen making the views much more pristine. There was only a few patches of snow along the way. I reached a junction and I headed right and reached a nice overlook. I could see a crude path heading to the talus field so I followed. The rock here is loose so those who have partners be forewarned. I had seen some fresh prints in the snow at the base of the climb but as I headed up I didn't see them anymore. Since I had read a report from last week that I had assumed used this route, not seeing any boot prints made me suspect that I had left too the road too soon. I turned around and headed back to the road below. Once reaching the road I continued on to the left. After a short ways the road degrades considerably. The snow also deepened and it was obvious no one had been here recently since there were no prints in the soft snow. I decided that I had indeed been on route so I returned to the faint climber's path.

The going was straight forward and I did my best to avoid any snow that I could since I had first hand knowledge of some of the man eating voids. As I climbed higher it became impossible to avoid the snow and I had to slow down to make sure each step was secure. Once I reached the trees there wasn't much snow so the pace quickened. The ridge became very defined as I made my way higher. I reached another open area with soft snow. I decided that it would be best to attack this route with either more or less snow. I quickly descended the 600' back to the road.

Since I had plenty of time and my legs were feeling good I headed up at the previous junction. I could see Whitebark's boot prints. I was sure they were his since there were only prints going down and none going up. I decided to at least make it to the convenient sitting log and views he referenced in his report. Once reaching the area where he had rejoined the road I was surprised looking down his route. It looked like it wouldn't be fun to descend so I am guessing that is why he chose to head back on the road. I was curious what lay ahead so I continued on to a switchback and I some flagging caught my eye. I also noticed some fresh looking blaze marks in the trees that were impossibly high up. It amazed me how much higher the snow must have been when they were made. The snow and the grade were pleasing so I continued on. I was able to follow the blazes and the flagging without too much issue. Soon I broke out of the trees to some open snow slopes baking in the warm sun. I wasn't too optimistic regarding continuing since I hadn't thought snowshoes would be needed. I gave myself some better odds by dropping my pack. I just wanted to see what lay ahead so I could determine if this route would work for a successful summit. The snow varied from shin to knee deep but for most part I was able to find a base. The going was slow but it was unbelievable to push through all the untracked snow in the warm sunshine. I could see the SW ridge come into view and there weren't any obstacles so I decided to continue. Once reaching an old avalanche path I decided that I better head back if I wanted to make my evening plans. I was less than an hour from the summit so I was somewhat disappointed. That evaporated quickly as I made my way back to my pack. The descent was much more difficult than the ascent. It seemed the added force of gravity was more than the base could handle and I found myself sinking well past my knees on nearly every step. Thankfully I reached my pack and better snow in the shade of the trees.

As I started down I noticed that my steps had prints in them pointing downhill. At first I thought that I had made them but after they continued I realized that someone had followed my prints stopping at my pack. Initially it gave me some cause for concern.  A lot of crazy thoughts were rolling through my head. As I descended further I thought maybe this was an opportunity to find someone to climb with. Someone with Tuesdays off and willing to do obscure routes in early Spring. I decided to hit the gas on the way down with the intent on catching up to my mysterious boot prints. Once on the lower portions I had to give up with the idea of catching up, so I throttled back to a more normal pace. Just as I reached the Middle Fork I was able to catch up. As we walked back to the cars we had a nice chat. I will indeed be back next week to finish this off provided the weather is agreeable.

Approx 10 miles 3700' of climb 6 hours car to car

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