Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Howson Creek 1.21.14

I had aspirations of climbing Howson Peak but I couldn't decide how I wanted to attack it. I had tried once before using the old Howson Creek Trail until just before the creek crossing. On that trip I left the trail and headed to the SE to 5159'. On that trip I found fairly easy travel but ran out of gas after making it to 5159'. I also had climbed Not So Sasse Peak via the Howson Creek trail. I decided on the drive over to Salmon La Sac that if the snow cover was low enough I would use the more direct route of going over 5159 and if there wasn't any snow down low I would stick to the trail.

I was surprised on cresting Snoqualmie the weather was in the mid 20's and there was much more cloud cover than the West side of the pass. I had hoped to spend the day in the sun.  I had some trouble finding my jump off point despite being there a few time. It seems between the growing number of trips I have done and my fading memory I will need to do more homework before heading out. The trail is no longer signed and is quite a bit before the crossing of Howson Creek. There is a allowed parking on the West side of the road directly across from the start of the trail. The trail starts as a old road bed until it reaches the crossing of Howson Creek. There was very little snow so I decided to stay on the trail. The creek crossing was a bit sketchy because all the rock above the water line were caked in ice. I chose to walk in the creek to cross which wasn't deep enough to cause any issues. The snow was just soft enough to get enough traction without any aid. The trail was easy to follow since it was for the most part the only snow. It was like following a ribbon of white. At around 3800' the sun started peaking through and I switched to crampons since the snow was becoming less friendly. There were still long patches of bare dirt which for Mid January at over 4000' was quite disturbing to me. I was able to follow the trail until 4200' where I lost it. I couldn't remember much of my previous trip, I did remember that the trail turns the corner and starts traversing towards Sasse Mountain but I couldn't remember at what elevation that occurred. I just kept heading up finding a manageable grade and good snow conditions. What wasn't in good condition however was my fitness level. Even with great conditions I was making very slow time and it was very apparent that there was no way I was going to get anywhere close to my goal for the day with the time I had available. I also realized that I wouldn't even have time to make it to Sasse Mountain as a back up. After some debate I decided to retreat in order to make in home in time for my evening plans.

This trip highlighted some areas I need to better focus on. More homework before leaving the house and while I have been doing quite a few miles per week it doesn't substitute as well as I had hoped for actual climbing. As I have noted before there is an appalling shortage of snow at the moment. Looking at the extended forecast I don't see that changing any time soon.

Approx 5 miles 2300' of climb 4 hours car to car

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