Wednesday, September 10, 2014

West Red Mountain (Money Creek) 5447'

I hadn't given much thought about what I wanted to do this week, when I received a message from Rich P about doing West Red 5447'. I hadn't had any interaction with Rich so I was surprised to get a message out of the blue. I was also thankful because I have had a tough time getting any partners lately. I had high hopes for making a big  dent in my Homecourt 100 list since I have been off since mid July. The truth of the matter is that my spending time with my family has won out over my desire to make any headway climbing. Despite all my time off all I could muster was Caroline Peak this summer which thankfully was a great solo trip. With my time off ending soon I was happy to tag along with Rich because  I knew my chances of success were greatly heightened. I was disappointed to see the weather forecast and my spirits were dampened further by the rain I heard on my roof throughout the night. I was pretty sure as I made my way through a rainy Monroe that this trip would not happen. I was already plotting some backup ideas as I made my way to the Sultan Park n Ride.

    I wasn't going to bring up the fact that a steep brush bash in the drizzle didn't sound appealing, and I was surprised that Rich didn't bring it up. Soon we were heading up the Money Creek Road which was in fine shape. We parked amongst the heavy machinery that is in the process of reclaiming the portion of the road past Lake Elizabeth.  It took me forever to get suited up since I had to pull out all my winter gear. I found it interesting that just a couple of days ago I was frying in the sun, and now I was getting dressed in winter gear. Finally we were off in sea of clouds following the reclaimed road covered in straw. Thankfully Rich had been here last week and was able to get us on the fisherman's trail to Crater Lake. With the straw on the road it was tough to see the start of it. The trail is muddy and rooty but it does get you to the lake. It has been brushed recently but unfortunately for me it was brushed by someone that was 5'8". most of the cuts left the remaining branches at my head level. My head found once such burly branch that knocked me backwards. Thankfully I didn't have more of an injury from the branch or the ensuing fall. After clearing the cobwebs we continued on to Crater Lake. We took a short break at the campsite on the Southern shore. The water level was low enough that we could walk the waterline to the campsite on the Northern End. We found a path we wanted heading NW from the campsite. The trail petered out and soon we found ourselves mired in some fresh avalanche debris. Thankfully we could see the waterfall that was our next objective. The reports I had read used the left side of the waterfall but I thought the contours on the right side looked more pleasing. Rich had read another report stating that the right side was no better than the left. We decided to head up the left side. Just before committing I happened to notice a worn boot path heading up the right side. It was distinct enough that I could see it from a couple hundred yards. There is indeed a well worn and well flagged route going up. Unable to believe our good fortune I expected it to stop before reaching the ridge. But luck was shining upon us because we were able to follow it all the way to the ridge. We did pass some sort of survey that neither I or Rich could figure out what they were doing. There is a small area with innumerable amount of numbered nails pounded into trees in no discernible order . The trail after this is much less defined. We found slippery going along the ridge, I hadn't read the reports very closely so I didn't realize that most groups aim for the saddle between West Red and 5331' to the SE. Rich wanted to head for the saddle but I didn't realize that that was the standard route, so instead we stayed on the ridge traversing a few points before reaching the summit ridge West of the summit. The going was fairly easy except for everything being slippery.

   It had taken us nearly 4 hours for the 3+ miles to the summit despite finding the time saver trail. We couldn't see anything so we didn't linger. Rich did a great job navigating back and we rejoined the flagged route with out too much issue. The way out was wet and slippery but the flagging and distinct trail kept us on route without any issues. I was dreading the short portion between the waterfall and the lake because of the avalanche debris, but it isn't really that far and I was very happy to be back to the lake. All in all it was nice to head out with Rich and knock another peak off the Homecourt 100

Approx 6.5 miles 2800' of climb 6:06 car to car

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