Sunday, September 25, 2016

Snowking Mountain 7433', Glacier Peak Wilderness

It's hard to find peaks that a) stepdad Steve hasn't done; and b) ones that aren't too scrambly for me. I've wanted to do Snowking Mountain for awhile and Steve hadn't been out there, so it was a perfect fit. The weather didn't quite clear as much as forecast, but for late-September it still was a pretty nice day. The route is straightforward and has only one small step that I would call third class, getting into a notch (on ascent) and climbing out of it (on descent). 

Some old growth and mature forest near 4000' on the climbers trail
Climbing up to point 5791',  and the real start of Kindy Ridge
Joints on 5791'
First view of Snowking, on 5791'
Snowking Lake on the left, Skaro and Neori on right
Snowking Mountain and Snowking Lake, from midway up Kindy Ridge
Looking at the upper half of Kindy Ridge, Mutchler Peak at left
Snowking, Cyclone Lake and Lake 5442'
Upper Kindy Ridge
Cyclone Lake, looking back down Kindy Ridge
Great granite slabs on Kindy Ridge
Mutchler Peak and glacial-retreat lake
Solid, as far as talus goes
Fresh snow on upper Snowking, notch visible separating the ridge from the summit block
On the ridge just before the notch, summit block beyond
Snowking benchmark 
Mutchler, Kindy Ridge and Cyclone Lake, from the summit

Illabot Creek headwaters from the glacial-retreat lake, Glacier Peak above the clouds, Mutchler
Steve in the notch on descent, showing the little step back up to Kindy Ridge
One Cyclone Lake, one Kindy Ridge, two Steves
Last look back at Snowking and Kindy Ridge
Found Lake
Eldorado, Dorado Needle, The Triad, Backbone Ridge
Hidden Lake peaks, Eldorado over to Torment, Forbidden, Boston and Johannesburg

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Big Chiwaukum, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Fresh off completing the Bulger Top 100, Eric is already tallying the remaining peaks for the Top 200. Doing the approaches to the climbs (Big Chiwaukum, on this day) usually is enough for me while he can get his summit and I can lounge. Clear fall days have to be my favorite time of year...

In the lower basin after leaving the Wildhorse Trail
In the lower basin
The elusive ground blueberry
Cresting the talus slope leading into the upper basin
Glacier Peak and its Wilderness
Snowgrass Mountain and Lake Grace
Big Chiwaukum's southwest ridge
Pano from ~7900' on Big Chiwaukum, south (left) to north looking west
The north face of Snowgrass with Upper Grace Lake

Looking at Frosty Pass and the terrain of Doelle-Chain lakes
Looking south from Big Chiwaukum's south ridge at 7900'; Big Jim at back left, Lake Charles left foreground, Stuart and Enchantment peaks back center-left
Looking north toward Maude, Bonanza and Dome (at left?)
Descending low on the SW ridge
The upper basin
Deer bed?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Pyramid Peak 6937', Mount Rainier National Park

A 4:44am email from Nick had us heading south to MRNP instead of east of the crest where the forecast had deteriorated overnight. Our plan was to park at Kautz Creek, head up to Pyramid Peak and then possibly to another destination, like Tokaloo Rock, looping back via the mostly-closed (but going to reopen?) Westside Road.

Classic fall weather with chilly, fog-filled valleys gave way to warm sunshine and transiting clouds above 5000' as we neared Indian Henry's Hunting Ground. Pyramid Peak was a very fun side trip with good views before more clouds rolled in. We decided to try for Tokaloo Rock as it was clear to the north when we left Pyramid, but that was pretty short lived. 

By the time we reached the ridge above St. Andrew's Park we were socked in, and stayed that way for our entire attempt up toward Tokaloo and back down. Looking at pictures from other TRs now, we were off route by literally 50 yards, but visibility was so bad we couldn't even see a huge 100-yard-wide bench that was directly below the rocky ridge we were on. It was late in the day, we had intermittent light rain and a little smattering of the frozen stuff and I told Nick it didn't seem like a smart idea to continue on. The clouds were so thick on the way down we got off route a couple of times on terrain we'd been on just 30 minutes earlier. 

Turning around early also was a good idea as Nick's feet we're very blistered from being wet all day and he had to resort to walking the last section of road in his socks. We also learned that if you're walking the Longmire Road at night by headlamp Park Rangers will pull you over and try to figure out what is going on, as well as keep you safe from drunk drivers who they say frequent the road; thanks Ranger Kelly! 

Breaking out of the fog on the Kautz Creek trail
Passing Mt. Ararat on the way to Indian Henry's
Rainier, approaching Indian Henry's
Headed to the aptly-named Pyramid Peak
Nick on the lower slopes of Pyramid Peak; Copper and Iron beyond
Pyramid Park looks gorgeous
The southwest flanks of Rainier, from Pyramid Peak 6937'
Tokaloo Rock (r) and Spire, from Pyramid Peak
Copper and Iron, from Pyramid Peak
South Tahoma Glacier with fresh snow
Nick leaving the summit of Pyramid with the Tatoosh Range and Goat Rocks area further back
Flow-banded rhyolite (?), south side of Emerald Ridge
Tahoma Glacier terminal moraine 
Dirty ice at the terminus of the Tahoma Glacier
Marmot on Emerald Ridge
Descending Emerald Ridge
Low on the ridge toward Tokaloo Rock
Contouring around Andrew Peak
We're having fun now!
Location check by one of the tarns along the ridge
Cool arch along the ridge
Where I told Nick I thought we should turn around; correct route was only 50 yards downslope right, and we couldn't see it
I can't recommend doing this...Nick crosses the arch on our descent
Columnar basalt along the South Puyallup River trail