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Three peaks in the post
|Iron Peak 6,510 November 10, 2001
The Trailhead is located on the Teanaway River Road just a few miles form the end at the Esmerelda Basin Trailhead. There was snow on the road and it will soon be closed to vehicles past the free logging company campground.
Doerte and I left the Iron Peak Trailhead, 3920, and were in the snow in just a few minutes. We followed tracks but soon met the solo hiker coming down. He said he was breaking through the crust and it was frustrating. We continued on, and when his tracks ran out, we began busting trail up the switchbacks.
The snow was just firm enough to hold our weight for a second, then collapse. It was slow going. We soon had a great view of Mount Rainier and the Esmerelda Peaks across the valley. The Esmerelda Peaks would make a fine adventure!
The trail stays in the forest along a rounded rib and away from the creek, so the avalanche danger is nil. As we neared the saddle another solo joined us for the final push to the Iron Saddle at 6,100. By now the snow was almost knee deep. Snowshoes would have been a nice touch.
We had reached our turnaround time of 2:00 pm and the final 400 to the summit would of taken another one to two hours. We had a nice talk and snacks on the saddle, then headed back down. The sun never got far from the horizon, and never seemed to be anywhere other than the south.
In the summer this would be an easy 4 hour round trip on a good trail, but on this day it was a struggle. Our elevation gain was 2,590, five miles round trip, over five hours.
Beginning at the Pacific Crest Trailhead, at 3,000 at Snoqualmie Pass, the trail to Kendall Peak is a little over 5 miles. The trail is in great condition and sees a lot of use. Often in the summer the parking lot is full and overflowing. On this beautiful Saturday in November there were only 4 cars.
Doerte and I took an ice axe and snowshoes, expecting to see some new snow after all the record rain in Seattle the previous week. The creeks and brooks were flowing and often the sound of water drowned out the drone of I90 below.
At about 5,000 the trail was covered with hard pack snow and ice, especially in shaded areas. The trail was dry in the sun. We had fine views of Red Mtn, Guye, Snoqualmie, Lundin, Chair, Tooth, Denny, and Bryant as the fog in the valley lifted and moved away.
The famous Kendall Katwalk was covered in icy hardpack, and all the hikers turned around here. An ice axe and crampons would be needed to get further on.
I looked for a route to the summit of Kendall but didnt see one. I started up kicking steps in the crusty snow and keeping a good belay with the axe. A couple of course adjustments and a traverse and I was on the summit of Kendall, 5,784.
Amazingly, the summit register, placed in 1995 was not even full! The last entry from November 11, included a guy who had just finished climbing all 20 Snoqualmie Peaks!
A careful descent, and Doerte and I were on our way back down, enjoying the sunset, and arriving at the trailhead at dark. 3,384 elevation gain and 10 miles round trip.
Red Mountain 5,890 November 18, 2001
On a climb of Kendall Peak the day before we had enjoyed such a amazing view of Red Mountain that I decided to see how far I could get toward the summit.
I left Guye Cabin at 10 am and headed up Commonwealth Basin. I wound up bushwhacking mostly. When I saw the trail it was a flowing creek. However, I was thrilled to see so much water in November. There was water everywhere as the unseasonably warm temperatures melted the snow. I had the illusion of a real wilderness and had great fun.
On the lower flank of Red Mountain , traversing to the east, I ran into two dayhikers, who looked at me like I was crazy, climbing a waterfall, when the trail was 30 away! Maybe I should update my 1973 edition of Becky? The trail was easier than bushwhacking and ascends to Red Mountain Pond, a beautiful little basin, mostly frozen and covered in snow.
The climbers trail ascends the slope to the summit. There is plenty of loose rock but the going was east until the final 200 on snow and ice. Another solo, Brian from Kirkland, joined with me to make a strong team. Crampons and ice axe were required to gain the summit 5,890.
We spent about 8 minutes on the cold, windy summit, admiring the views and putting on warmer clothes. We were the third party of two for the day. I couldnt find a summit register. We had a fantastic view of Mount Thompson, and close-up views of Lundin Peak, Snoqualmie Mountain, and Kendall Peak. Brian had been on Kendall the Sunday before with the climber who had bagged his final Snoqulamie Peak (20).
We carefully started back down the 45 degree snow and ice. Brian and I made good time back to the trailhead, taking the old trail.
There is very little snow in the peaks for November 17, and what is there is icy and crusty. 2,890 elevation gain and about 6 miles, three hours to the summit and two hours return.
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