Columbia Icefields
The Columbia Icefields, Jasper
 

Pacific Northwest Trip
Reports! 2000

Reports of personal experience of hikes and climbs in the backcountry of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and the surrounding area.

2002 Trip Reports!

2001 Trip Reports!


Sperry and Vesper Peaks, September 26, 2000

Easily accessible from Seattle, Vesper, 6,214’, and Sperry, 6,000’, make a great daytrip. Vesper has a sheer North face that would challenge most rock climbers. The normal approach is via the Sunrise Mine Trail, two steep miles to Headlee Pass, near the end of what looks to be deadend basin. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in the early season!

At Headlee Pass, looking to the west, Vesper got my full attention. The climber’s path to the west through talus and boulders and finally gained Vesper’s East Ridge, which gradually goes to the summit. There were a couple of nice camps in the last of the trees, but it looks like few people overnight here. Since I had my axe, I took the snow route up to the summit. As usual, the views were spectacular. It was fun to look to the north to Baker and Shuksan, and at the imposing hulk of Glacier Peak to the northeast. Mount Dickerman and Mount Pilchuck were hard to pick out, they were so little! Big Four Mountain, 6,135’ and Morning StarPeak, 6,020’, were the big immediate next door neighbors.

Mike Garrison told of descending Vesper to the still frozen Lake Elan, and then ascending Sperry. The ridge looked really nice, so I followed the class 3 ridge down and around to where I could connect with the West Ridge climbers trail leading up to Vesper. The route up Vesper is fairly steep, brushy, and class 3. More excellent views and then a descent to the lake and back down.

I only saw 4 parties all day in a spectacular, accessible area, and had a great time. Round trip time for me solo was 7.5 hours. Thanks to Mike Garrison for the great idea!

Mount Ruth, 7,106’ September 23, 2000

The weather forecast was good so we set out to try Mount Ruth again. We left the trailhead, at 3,100’, and headed for Hannegan Pass at 5,066’, and covered the 4 miles in 2 hours, arriving at the pass at 11:00 am. The trail was dry and in superb condition. We took a short break and then headed up the steep climbers track, which was still frozen after last night’s hard frost and gave us firm steps up through the heather to the bench at 5,500’.

Traversing left we soon came to the snowfield, which Nelson and Potterfield say is the most exposed section of the entire climb. We stopped and put on our crampons, as the snow was hard ice. Five minutes later we were taking them off and on the great snowfree trail along the Ruth Arm to the base of the Ruth Glacier. We had perfect skies, warm temperatures and no wind. There could not be a better day to be in the Northern Cascades!

We again put on our crampons, roped up, and headed up the steep snow to the summit, at 7,106’. There were a couple nice crevasses on the left, but not very deep. It was still fun to look down into them. The summit was dry and snowfree and offered incredible views of Shuksan, Nooksack Tower, Baker, Glacier, and the Pickets to literally, just name a few.

Reluctantly, we pulled ourselves away from the summit after more than an hour, just as a Mountaineer’s party was arriving. They were going to spend the night and then go for Icey Peak in the early morning. Icey could also be done in a day, but one would have to be on the trail before 6 am to allow enough time for the traverse from Ruth Mountain. Maybe next year? We were back at the trailhead in exactly nine hours. An enjoyable, easy climb.

Mount Adams, September 16/17, 2000 

View of Mount Adams from the road to the wesst.
View of Mount Adams 12,276',from the west.

Doerte, Mike, Dave on the summit of Mount Adams.
Doerte, Mike, Dave on the summit of Mount Adams. Mount Rainier can be seen in the backgound.

Mike and Doerte on the descent.
On the descent. The Lunch Counter can be seen way below.

 

Thanks to Dave Mahfet for the photos!

Finally, even Harry Wampler was promising good weather on the weekend, so we (Doerte, Mike, and Dave) decided to head down for a late season climb of this traditionally early season mountain. Mount Adams, at 12,276’ is the second highest volcano and mountain in the Pacific Northwest. Only Mount Rainier is higher at 14,411'. We did the South Climb, which is the easiest and most popular route on the mountain. We got our permit and paid the 15 bucks each at the ranger station in Trout Lake.

The trailhead is at the Cold Springs Campground at 5,600' at the end of a rough, but passable dirt road. There were even compact cars there amongst the Jeeps, Trucks, and Blazers. There is no water at the trailhead. Almost all of the 30 or so parties on the mountain did the trip as an overnighter. Camping somewhere between the "low camp" at 8,000’ and the Lunch Counter at 9,000’.

We saw two other parties dayhiking to the summit besides us. The trail was in good condition, but gets rockier as it ascends. We were glad to finally put on our crampons and walk out on to the Crescent Glacier about 8,500’. Doerte led, as usual, and we moved fast up the steep snow, finally reaching the false summit at 11,700’, Piker’s Peak, about 1 p.m.

It was at this point that I was stopped in a spring ascent three years ago due to bad weather. I knew from my altimeter that I was not on the summit, and had no idea where the summit was. The visibility was only about thirty feet, so I headed down. I was well below the Lunch Counter before I was sure of my position. Often on Mount Adams, parties mistakenly descend the wrong direction in a storm, and wind up having to bushwack through the woods for a couple days before finding the road.

However, on this day, we gulped some water and headed on to the summit, 600’ and about a mile away. Dave and I struggled on and finally made the summit a little after 2 p.m. Doerte was a veteran by the time we arrived! There is an old cabin on the summit, collapsing under the weight of all the snow. The last time I was on the summit, it was buried with not a trace of it visible. The view of Mount Rainier to the north dominates the scene, but Mount Hood, Jefferson, and St. Helens were looming nearby.

We left the summit at 3p.m. and hurried down, hoping to reach the trailhead by 7 p.m. before dark. It was fun glissading down hundreds of feet at a time.

I was amazed to see half of the climbers on the mountain without crampons, and many with no knowledge of how to use an Ice Axe, but the South Climb is considered non-technical. We spent 12 hours round trip and our total elevation gain just shy of 6,700'.

It would be fun to try the North Cleaver or Adams Glacier routes next year!

  

Toleak Point, Olympic Coast, September 09/10 2000

Doerte and I started on a rainy Saturday morning at the Third Beach Trailhead. This is the last year for self issuing permits. Beginning next May, everyone will have to go into Forks and visit the ranger to get their permit.

It’s only a little over a mile through the forest to the Beach. Third Beach is spectacular, with everything you could want in a wilderness beach, with great views to the south to the Giant’s Graveyard. At the end of the beach before Taylor Point, a ladder took us off the beach to the trail leading over the first headland.

The trail was muddy and slippery from the rain almost the entire 1.2 miles back down to the beach. After only another mile or so, we were back up again and then finally back down to the Beach at Taylor Creek. It’s about 8 hard miles to Taylor Creek. Ladders, ropes, and steps are used to go up and down the headlands. They take some getting used to, especially if they’re cold, wet, and muddy like they were on this weekend. Some hikers might not like the exposure.

Many parties like to camp at Taylor Creek, but we continued down the Beach to Strawberry Point where we set up camp in a sheltered area just off the beach. We climbed Strawberry Point at low tide, and had fun watching the young seals lounging on the rocks, protected from the Orcas. We also saw a couple of Herons.

It’s only another mile down to Toleak Point, one of Ira Spring’s favorites, so we went there for the afternoon. I have to agree with Ira, it is a fantastic spot with lots of beach and views both north and south.

We returned to camp just in time to make a small fire and start dinner before the rains started again, even harder this time. We tended the fire until sunset, and then retired into the warm, dry tent. It rained all night, and the pan showed almost 3 inches by morning! By sunrise the rain finally quit and the sky cleared. Doerte and I were ready to hike on to Oil City, about 8 more miles, but we reluctantly headed back to Third Beach, with the receding tide. It took us about four hours to get back to the trailhead.

We got good use out of our Gortex, and had a wonderful trip. The Olympic Coast is great in any weather!

August 26, 2000 Mount Ruth

Looking down to Ruth Creek across meadow!
Looking down to Ruth Creek

 

Dave on the North Ridge of Hannegan Peak
Dave on the North Ridge of Hannegan Peak

 

Mike, Doerte, Dave finally on the cloudy summit of Hannigan Peak
Mike, Doerte, Dave finally on the cloudy summit of Hannigan Peak

We (Dave, Doerte, and Mike) arrived at the little campground at the Hannegan Pass Trailhead, at 3,100’, a little after dark and setup camp. Our goal was Mount Ruth, at 7,106’ and Icy Peak, another mile to the south, if the day went good. By sunrise it was raining, which proved to be an omen for the day. The trail follows the north side of the very scenic Ruth Creek Valley, ascending gradually up to Hannegan Pass at about 4 miles. The sound and sights of water and waterfalls was continuous the whole way up to the pass. It was hard to believe this was the end of August. The amount of snow and rushing water made it look more like late May than August. Just before the pass are some excellent campsites. Hannegan Pass is at 5,066’. A party a coupe of summers ago encountered a bear at this place! The guide says to just locate the climber’s trail and head up steeply.

At this point with almost no visibility on this August Saturday, we wound up following a trail around the front of the big hump instead of directly up through the Heather to Mount Ruth. The talus became very steep and loose, so we went down a big gully to the campsites below. Here we found another trail through some steep meadows that eventually gave out as well.

Wondering how such a simple walkup could turn into a major bushwack we rested and had lunch and enjoyed the meadows, flowers, and rushing water. We had been on two different trails and both had faded to nothing. Although it had quit raining and the clouds had lifted a bit, we still could see nothing much over 6,000’. We decided to go for the sure thing of Hannegan Peak, about 6,100’, and save Mount Ruth and Icy Peak for a day when the views of Shuksan and Baker were good.

On the way up Hannegan Peak the clouds lifted a bit briefly. With the help of another climber, who decided the weather was too bad for the mountain, we saw our route up the steep side of the hump that we missed in the morning. What was impossible in the fog was clearly evident when out of the clouds! We also saw a party follow our off route path, only to come back an hour later, to gain the correct route.

The trail was fine to Hannegan Peak, and the views below us wonderful. We could see nothing above us. We had glimpses of the mountains to the north to the Canadian border, and promises of many fine hikes to come. Dave took some great pictures with his digital camera to remind us we have to come back as soon as a high pressure system builds over Washington.

We arrived back at the trailhead at 6:00 p.m. 10 hours, 14 miles, and about 4.000’ gained in our journey through the fog. The Hannegan Pass Trail is in excellent condition.

Thanks to Dave Mahfet for the photos!

Bootjack Mountain August 20, 2000

The Blackjack Ridge Trail starts almost at the end of the Icicle Creek Road outside Leavenworth. Trail 1565 is steep and receives very few visitors! The trailhead is at 3850’ and the gain is 3250’ to the meadows of Blackjack Ridge in 3 miles. The trail in great condition, dry, and the track is fine. Almost at the end, the green meadows begin in an area of burned out trees, alive with insects, birds, and views.

Following the ridge another 689’ along a faint tread leads to the summit of Bootjack Mountain at 6789’. The last 70’ is a bit of a class 3 climb, but the summit offers rewarding views of Mt. Stuart, Cashmere Mountain, Ingalls Peak, Icicle Ridge, and even Mount Daniel in the snow and clouds!

We saw three parties on a Sunday afternoon. Hiking time roundtrip was a fast 4.5 hours.

Rock Mountain August 19, 2000

Located in the North Cascades, east of Stevens Pass, the trail itself is in excellent condition. There is, however, lots of downfall across the trail. It’s 4 miles and 3,300’ to the former lookout on Rock Mountain. We took the Snowy Creek Trail 1531. It was a bit overgrown the first couple miles, and we were soon wishing we had worn our gaitors as our boots and socks were soaked.

After the beautiful meadow at two miles, the trail starts getting serious about elevation and soon arrives at treeline. One gets a feeling of Paradise to be alone in this wonderful alpine meadow! Nason Ridge offers amazing views in all directions. There is a junction to Rock Lake. Ira and Harvey say this should be protected wilderness and we have to heartily agree!

Flowers and berries and views! We only saw three other parties on this summer Saturday.

Mount Jefferson August 12/13 2000

Mount Jefferson, at 10,497’ is the second highest peak in Oregon, and more difficult than Mount Hood. The Jefferson Park Trailhead, at 4,400’, is 7 miles down the Whitewater Creek dirt road from Highway 22 outside Detroit, Oregon. The trail is in excellent condition and begins in some old growth. Although there are many parties heading to Jefferson Park, or doing a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, very few climbers were in the area. Besides our party of two, there were two parties of 9 and a part of 2 signed in at the trailhead. On the upper mountain we saw only one party of 4 and a solo climber.

The hike in to Jefferson Park is easy, and gives some great views of Mount Jefferson to the east. Most parties seemed to be heading up the Jefferson Park Glacier. We followed Whitewater Creek up to the Whitewater Glacier. Part of our route was on extremely loose talus that created mini-avalanches with almost every step. After a couple hours and lots of sweat we finally arrived at the waterfall at the base of the Glacier. After enjoying the cold, clean water, we climbed on the Glacier and found a nice place to camp among the rocks at 7,200’ with fine views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens to the north. We liked this camp because there was still running water and we were protected from the wind.

At 5 a.m. we were roped up and off up the Whitewater Glacier. The snow was firm and we had the illusion that we were the first to come this way in a while. Finally we met the place where parties from Jefferson Park Glacier cross the North Ridge. Here we first saw the party of 4. As the route crosses the eastside of the summit, there is frequent rockfall off the upper reaches of the mountain. We crossed the debris fields quickly. This was the most exciting part of the route as it wound around many crevasses and across snow bridges and below some seracs before finally reaching the long ridge leading to the Red Saddle.

The ridge to the Red Saddle is almost 1,000 feet of loose talus, scree, and rocks. It was hard to take a step without sending a dangerous message below. Finally the rocks got bigger and more secure and the going a bit faster until the saddle just below the summit. I was shocked to see the route continue over the other side of the saddle through a steep snowfield. I was unsure of the correct route until a solo climber from Eugene came though the snowfield and said this was indeed the correct route. He had a daypack from what looked like the early sixties and a wooden shaft ice axe. Not your typical climber these days, and I never saw him again.

The two snowfields were still frozen and the steps deep and secure. The route wound around the south and then the west sides of the summit and then finally up the summit pinnacle. It had been class 3 up to this point but now it was class 4 but with excellent handholds. The summit, at 10,497’, was very small; maybe four people could sit securely on it. There was a Mazamas Register, but only pieces of old cardboard to sign dating back to 1995. The views were astounding! Broken Top, the Three Sisters, Diamond Peak, and Thielsen were all visible to the south, the deserts to the east, and even Mount Rainier to the North.

Back down to the Glacier went fast. The party of 4 was still working their way up the ridge. Doerte and I wanted to get back across the crevassed area of the Glacier before the snow softened too much. We were back at camp at 12:30.

We spent an hour resting and packing and then headed down to Jefferson Park. Below the Glacier, Doerte looked up to see a big boulder bouncing right for us, but luckily it stopped and dropped into the water on it’s final bounce! Helmets are necessary, and the afternoons dangerous. We downclimbed the ridge to avoid the loose stuff above Whitewater Creek.

We were back at the trailhead at 5 p.m. Our total hiking/climbing time over two days was 16 hours including breaks, and 6,000’ of elevation gain. The best way to do this trip is over three days; with a high camp somewhere. Jefferson is big, and care must be taken with the loose, crumbly rubble. Rockfall is an always present hazard. It is a difficult mountain and requires substantial commitment. We used Smoot’s terrible guide that will end up in campfire someday. Obviously, he never climbed any of the mountains in his book.

Mount Shuksan August 05/06 2000

The view of Mt Shuksan from the low camp at 6,200'
The view of Mt Shuksan from the low camp at 6,200'
Doerte and I camped at the trailhead, at 2,500’, on Friday night to get an early start up the trail. We were underway at 7am. The trail is in good shape even going up to the ridge where it twists and turns around fallen trees, roots, and brush. Just a month ago this was under several feet of snow, but now it is green, and alive with bugs, flies, mice, frogs, and even snakes!

The first snow shows up on the ridge at about 5,000 feet. Mount Baker, 10,781’, looms massive to the west. The route reaches a small notch, the last trees, and fabulous views to the north, at about 5,400’. The first part of the traverse had melted out to rock, but after that it was only firm snow. We narrowly missed being in an avalanche as a huge cornice broke off sending blocks of snow and ice, some as big as refrigerators, directly in our path. We waited for a while out of harms way, only to have a second, larger one come down. Finally, we moved quickly, one at a time, across the debris field, out of harm’s way on the other side. We were glad we had our axes in hand, but wished we had our helmets on instead of on our packs. Sometimes climbers get lulled into forgetting how unpredictable the mountains can be!

We made camp on the low edge of the Sulphide Glacier at the low camp at 6,200 feet, thinking it was the high camp. There was flowing water, and a couple nice places in the rocks for the tents. It was nice to camp out of the snow for a change. The high camp is at 6,500’ on the west side of the Glacier. We had great views of Mount Challenger 8,236’, and the Cascades to the east, and below us Sulphide and Crystal Glaciers. It was fun to listen to the rumble of seracs breaking off and tumbling down. Climbers were just little dots descending the snowfield below the summit pyramid. Dan arrived in the afternoon and our team was complete.

We left camp at 5:15 a.m. just as the sun was rising up. The sky was still completely clear…except for the summit pyramid! The only cloud in the entire sky hung over Mount Shuksan! Most of the other rope teams left at the same time, one that was camped with us, and one from the upper camp. The route was straightforward and mostly direct, skirting the edge of the Sulphide Glacier, mostly above any visible crevasses.

At the base of the summit pyramid, we stashed our crampons, climbed up a 5 foot block onto another small snowfield, which we ascended with axes, to the gully that leads to the summit. We put our axes on our packs. Would we need them again? The gully was class 3 and class 4 with some loose rock and exposure, but with good hand and foot holds. Some places were wet and a little slick, but there was no ice. Helmets were definitely a good idea! Early season the gully is completely filled with snow. Our absent teammate, Dave, who loves the rock, would of really enjoyed this.

Of course the gully was a bottleneck for climbers heading up and down. Everyone did a fantastic job of not rolling rocks and being patient with slower climbers. Dan, Doerte, and I finally made the summit, 9,127’, and shared it with one other party. Clouds obscured the view, but the wind was calm, and the temperature pleasant. We didn’t mind missing the view, since we had enjoyed so much excitement completing the climb.

The climb down the gully was slow and safe, but we now knew the route, so it was relaxed. One party set up a rappel. At the base of the pyramid, a climber dislocated a shoulder, but was going hike out. Back on the Glacier, the cloud finally blew away from the summit! It took only an hour to get back to camp, where we all headed for the cold running water to quench our thirst and cool down. One guy even took a swim in a small pool!

Like the guide says, Shuksan is not a "hands in pocket" climb, but is a fun mixed bag of fantastic views, glacier travel, and some rock.

Mt Shuksan
Mt Shuksan, 9,127’ in North Cascades
The cloud on the summit pyramid
The cloud on the summit pyramid
summits.jpg (8071 bytes)
Dan, Mike, Doerte on the summit of Mt. Shuksan, August 06, 2000

 

All the photos: Thanks to Dan Cervelli!

Mount Daniel July 15/16 2000

Mike Garrison was right. The bugs were bad. We had just squeezed a parking space in between two big trees, at the Cathedral Rock Trailhead at the end of the Salmon la Sac Road. The first thing we did after getting out of the truck was to break out the bug spray and drench ourselves from head to toe.

The trail begins at 3,350’ and soon crosses the Cle Elum River on an almost washed out bridge. The flow must be huge early in the season. We reached pretty Squaw Lake and the first snow in 2.5 miles, and finally Cathedral Pass in 4.25 miles and the junction with the PCT. We stopped for a short break and some water, but had to get moving to avoid being eaten alive. "They’ll be less higher up," I said with blind assurance. Doerte just hiked on.

The view to Deep Lake was amazing, and the roar of waterfalls across the valley was deafening. Soon we turned on the unmarked trail (the guide says 1375) that heads to Peggy’s Pond. On this sunny slope below Cathedral Rock we found a spot with a bit of a breeze and no bugs to take a break.

We arrived at Peggy’s Pond in about 3 hours from the trailhead and found it mostly frozen still. All the camping was still in the snow, and yes the bugs were still really bad. We ate dinner in the tent, but were able to walk around and chat with the neighbors, Joe and Phil, before sunset.

All the climbers left about 5:30 am. We found better views and bug free places to camp higher up for next time. We soon put on the crampons and unleashed the ice axe. The route follows the Hyas Creek and ascends to a ridge to the right of the East Peak. The snow was in perfect condition. Firm and stable. A couple of parties headed for the East Peak, mistakenly? With Doerte in the lead, we continued up the steep slope to the ridge at 7,200 and traversed under some big crevasses on the Daniel Glacier. Most parties roped up for this. Once again, we thought the Middle Peak was the summit, but upon gaining that ridge, finally saw Mount Daniel beyond, at 7,960’.

The summit was a small scramble, and big enough for two or three people. All the climbers took their turn in good order and then settled down for a snack, rest, and fabulous views of almost every summit in Washington. There was not a cloud in the sky, and even the Brothers were in fine view. Mount Stuart was particularly impressive! We also had an exciting show, watching the party of 4 ladies that went to the East Peak, downclimb the west side off route, back to the upper Daniel Glacier. Other than the leader, the others were obviously having an extremely difficult time getting back on route. Almost an hour passed before the last one made it down to the snow. Everyone watching breathed a long sigh of relief.

We made a quick visit to the East Peak and then began the steep descent back down to the 7,200’ ridge. Then after enjoying some wonderful glissades we reluctantly descended back into the heat and bugs of our campsite by 11:00a.m. and then after a short rest and lunch, heading down. We reached the truck at 3:00 p.m., immediately jumping in and turning on the air conditioning. Doerte found a spot for a dip in the Cle Elum River to cool down and wash the bug spray off. The bugs looked more like some kind of alien biting fly than mosquitos and Mike Garrison was right. When Doerte and I come back it will be in the fall!

  Mount Rainier July 08/09 2000

Doerte and I needed a third or forth for our rope team, so we went by REI and Feathered Friends in Seattle to see if there were any ads for partners on the bulletin boards. There was one at Feathered Friends, which I called as soon as we arrived home. It was from Cameron, on the road near Mount St. Helens, on his way to Seattle. After a quick two-way interview we determined that we all had the skill, equipment, and endurance necessary to make the trip. We were now a three-person team.

Since on a previous trip we had summited via Camp Schurman we decided to use the Ingraham Headwall Route this time. The Disappointment Cleaver Route was not in yet, and the Gibraltar Ledges were not recommended. Our first plan was to get a spot at Camp Muir, and Cameron could sleep in the hut, thus saving having to carry a tent up. However, all 125 spots were taken for the weekend already on Thursday! We were able to secure a spot at Ingraham Camp on the Ingraham Glacier, 1,000’ and two miles farther on.

We left Paradise under bright blue skies at 9 a.m. Friday morning. At 5,400’ Paradise, on this July weekend, was still covered in snow. We put on our gaiters and used trekking poles, but left the ice axes and crampons in the packs. It took us 4 hours to climb the 4,600’ to Camp Muir. There we toured the hut, and found a spot well away from the two bathrooms to have our lunch. Camp Muir is like another world, perched near the bottom of the Cowlitz Cleaver, protected from the Cowlitz Glacier. I couldn’t imagine it with over 100 people running around. Sunscreen and water being the order of the day.

We were pretty tired from our heavy packs, but had to continue on to our camp. We roped up, and took out the ice axes, but left the crampons in the pack. On the Cowlitz Glacier we crossed the first few crevasses before we climbed up the steep rubble of Cathedral Rocks. Now it was only 300’ more and we would finally be at the camp! The route steepened, we crossed a couple more small crevasses and finally gained the Ingraham Glacier.

Ingraham Camp, at 11,000’ is safe and well situated, far enough away from the rockfall of the Cathedral Rocks, above the crevasses of the Ingraham Glacier, and below the icefall hazard of the Ingraham Headwall. There were 5 or 6 parties there already, and we were immediately glad that we were not at the zoo of Camp Muir. We also realized that we might actually get some sleep since Camp Muir wakes up between 1030 p.m. and midnight to begin their ascent.

A couple parties practiced self arrest and crevasse rescue, but we needed to get the stove going, hydrate, and make sure we melted enough snow for the climb tomorrow. It was extremely hot on the Glacier and short and t-shirts were the order of the afternoon until the sun dipped behind Cadaver Gap. Suddenly the temperature dropped and the wind came up. We put all our clothes back on. The stove had trouble staying lit and eventually gave it up entirely! The matches wouldn’t even light and the neither would the lighter! The water was freezing within minutes of being put in the bottles! Luckily, the friendly neighbors lent us their stove to finish dinner, drinks, and top off our water bottles. We put everything in the tent to keep from freezing.

We climbed in the tent about 9 p.m. and battled to stay warm. It was very cold! It seemed like almost immediately we began hearing parties pass by on their way to the summit. Doerte and I started the stove, made a drip coffee and oatmeal, and hand delivered the hot stuff to Cameron next door. We had planned to awake a 3 a.m. so we were a little ahead of schedule. At 3:30 a.m. we put on the crampons, helmets, and roped up. I led, with Doerte in the middle, and Cameron bringing up the rear. We could see many headlights above us, and some below. The first two returning parties passed us before we left camp, both mad and frustrated because they were turning around. An RMI party also turned around at this point.

Less than 30 minutes above camp we met our first big crevasse, about 10’ wide, bottomless as far as we could tell, bridged with a shaky aluminum ladder. It was probably easier to cross in the dark! We continued slowly, keeping the slack from the rope, and taking a breath a step. We were passed by a party of two female climbers, and one solo guy who had started at Paradise at 10 p.m. The predawn was cold and a light wind had us wishing we had worn another layer. Stops were brief since it only took a few minutes to get chilled to the bone. Starting again brought warmth. The sunrise was spectacular, the sky an ever-changing panorama of colors. Crevasses were crossed easily.

We had the misfortune of having to follow a three-rope team party of RMI who refused to let us pass or even communicate. Some of their clients said, "Yeah, we call him Jason the jerk!" in reference to their guide. We were shocked that "professional" guides would behave in a rude, unhelpful, and arrogant manner. One client asked if she could go to the bathroom, and Jason told her she would have to wait until the Crater, which was more than one hour away! The RMI teams had excessive slack in their ropes. We can only hope that these clients didn’t pick up to many pointers from Jason.

Finally, we passed them when they stopped for a breather about 13,500’. An hour later the Crater came into view and we could scarcely believe we were there. We climbed into the Crater to drink and try to eat some snacks. It was 7 a.m. Cameron brought some peeled oranges that was a huge hit. The powerbars were frozen and dry and tasted like ancient cardboard. After rehydrating, we walked across the Crater to the true Summit, 14,411’, the Columbia Crest, and then signed the register. We had fantastic views to the south with Mounts St. Helens, Adams, and Hood, to the east to the Yakima Valley, and even to the north with Glacier Peak and Mount Stuart. The three RMI parties finally reached the Crater, but not the Summit! How terrible to go so far and not really summit Mount Rainier!  

Descending, Cameron remained in the back to arrest Doerte and myself if we fell. The snow was still quite frozen. There were a couple small parties ahead of us and a couple behind us, but we all traveled about the same speed. A few crevasses had to be jumped across, but we felt very safe and secure that our team members would not allow us to fall far. About 13,000’ the sun came out and the Ingraham Glacier became like an oven for the rest way to camp. We stripped down a couple layers and still were cooking! It was odd finding all new neighbors at Ingraham Camp. And more of them!

Ingraham Camp was no cooler. We dropped the ice axes, took off the boots, stripped down and climbed in the tents to escape the sun. The tents were still extremely hot! We rested, napped, ate, hydrated. At 2 p.m. the big afternoon cloud came up cooling the Glacier by 30 degrees in the blink of an eye. We bailed from the tents and broke camp, to head for Camp Muir.

Camp Muir was in the sun, but we soon entered the cloud again as we descended to Paradise. We were glad to have the cool clouds all the way to Paradise to keep us from overheating on this long day. We arrived at Paradise at 6 p.m. and immediately headed to the Paradise Inn for the celebratory beer!

We were amazed at how friendly and cooperative the many climbers on this route were. Everyone was glad to share information, technique, encouragement, tent sites, and even stoves.


Mount Shuksan July 01/02, 2000

High Camp below the Sulphide Glacier, July 2000 Doerte and I met Dave at the small trailhead at 2,500’ above Shannon Creek on Friday evening after getting the permit in Sedro Woolley at the Ranger Station. All the forecasts called for partly cloudy, variable clouds, and generally improving weather as the weekend progressed. Dan, the last of our party, arrived Saturday morning and we began up the trail about 9 a.m.

The first two miles are along a former logging road. Then eventually it does turn into a real trail and begins ascending into the forest, gaining a ridge, and eventually topping out about 4,600’. Here we had a break and wondered where the wonderful views of Mount Baker were. We were well in the snow by 4,000’ and also well in the clouds. Visibility was only a couple 100 feet at best.

We continued to follow the ridge up, passing into the North Cascades National Park, although unsigned. We met two parties coming down and neither had summited due to the weather. Still, we retained hope for clear skies tomorrow.

Continuing up, we passed the last trees at 5400’ and took out of ice axes as the route steepened and traversed a steep slope. With visibility about 100’ we decided to camp about 6,300’, just below the Sulphide Glacier. We found a somewhat protected spot that we could shovel out a couple of tent platforms. We had a momentary view of bright blue sky, and then the clouds closed in again. Between us, and the neighbors, we had a GPS and two altimeters, and all three were within 500’. We set the alarm for 3 a.m. but the patter of snow on the tents caused us to roll over and sleep some more. Sunrise found 4 inches of new snow over our tents. We worried that our tracks would be completely covered over.

The weather had not improved, and in fact overnight another party took shelter at our little refuge. Visibility was about 10’ feet now, but our tracks were still visible. We packed up from our high camp and headed back down the mountain, practicing the plunge step, and self arrests.

We saw nothing but clouds and snow the entire weekend instead of the views of the Pickets and Baker and the famed Shuksan Pyramid, but had a great time!

Doerte on the Traverse
Mike making coffee at high camp in the Tent
Photos on Mount Shuksan by Dan Cervelli

Garibaldi Peak June 17/18, 2000

We began at Diamond Head Trailhead. To get there drive 4 kilometers north of the town of Squamish, B.C., then turn right on Mamquam Road and drive for 14 kilometers more to the Trailhead at about 2750 feet. Other access is via Alice Ridge and Brohm Ridge. The first assent of Garibaldi in 1907 was a party of six for Vancouver who came in from Garibaldi Lake.

The Paul Ridge trail from Diamond Head begins as an old logging road for the first 4 kilometers to the Red Heather Day Shelter and Campground. After two kilometers the trail became covered in snow which only got deeper as the hike when on. We met a couple parties in snowshoes and one on skis, but most people were hiking like us. Gaiters and good boots made it more comfortable. The route was marked by poles in the snow and was easy to follow along the ridge. We enjoyed fantastic views behind us of Howe Sound and spectacular vistas in front of us of Columnar Peak, The Gargoyles, Diamond Head, and Garibaldi Neve.

We didn’t make very good time and arrived at the Elfin Lakes Hut, about 5,200’ after five hours. The Hut was still half buried in the snow, and we dug out a window to get some light into the kitchen area. The Hut is two stories tall and sleeps 30 people in bunks on the second floor. The first floor is a common area with a heater and two, two-burner propane stoves. On this night we shared the Hut with one other party. An outhouse and a ranger cabin complete the complex. The fee is a reasonable $10 Canadian per person per night. The campground is $3 a night.

The route beyond the hut was unmarked and showed no signs of recent travel. We ventured to near Columnar Peak in the evening hours to locate the route for the next morning that would bring us to Garibaldi’s East Face. The early alarm clock brought rain, thunder, and more rain, so we gave it up for the day. The visibility, perfect on Saturday, worsened as Sunday morning progressed. The clouds were just above our heads at 6000 feet, impairing the views of the peaks.

With the weather moving in we packed up and hiked out, arriving at the car in three hours. One fellow we talked to said the snowpack had not melted much the last six weeks due to cooler than normal temperatures. Although we had a great trip to the Hut, there was still 3 to 6 meters of snow! However, by the end of July the snow should be melted enough to improve access enough to make a summit bid on the 8,787’ peak a bit more realistic on a three day trip. Atwell Peak, 8,569’ and Dalton Dome, 8,638’ are also nearby.

Next time, we’ll get an earlier start, allow three full days, and leave the stove and other stuff behind since we have this nice Hut available to base from.

mike@grandcanyontreks.org


Mount Hood  June 06, 2000

With the perfect weather of the last few days we couldn’t pass up a try at Mount Hood, the highest peak in Oregon at 11,239 feet.

We arrived at Timberline Lodge about 4 a.m. and planned to get started about 5a.m. Most of the parties were well ahead of us already. It seems most of them started about 3 a.m., which is optimal, but it seemed there were too many people grouped together, especially on the steep stretch below the Pearly Gates.

From the parking area the route goes due north up the snow on the east side of the ski area. Straight forward, the summit is almost always directly ahead. Above the Palmer ski lift we put on the crampons and headed to the Hogsback, a snow ridge behind Crater Rock.

At Crater Rock, most parties rested, ate snacks, and re-hydrated. Some parties roped up here also. Heading for the Pearly gates the slope steepens. The bergschrund was just starting to open up and in some places were a couple feet wide. The rocks above were covered with ice and rained small pieces down as the sun hit them. Climbers above were also dislodging small pieces of ice, which made us nervous since we were directly in the fall line. Helmets are a good idea since the Pearly Gates were bottlenecked with climbers. Above the Pearly Gates it is only a few minutes to the true summit.

The summit offered valley views of Portland to the west, the Columbia River to the east, Mount Jefferson, and the Sisters to the south, and Mount Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mount Rainier to the north. After a nice break, we started the trip down on softening snow.

We spent about eight hours round trip on a leisurely day. It was extremely hot on the snow, and sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats were required. The next morning a lady fell off the summit on the northeast side. In 1999, two climber died, and in 1998, one died in an avalanche on the West Crater Rim Route.

Doerte and Mike Mahanay mike@grandcanyontreks.org


Point of Arches, Olympic Coast May 28/29, 2000

It was raining so much on Saturday that we decided to wait one day, hoping for better weather, before we began the hike. We camped at the little Ozette Campground, and Sunday dawned with streaks of blue in the sky.

High tide was at 10a.m. We planned to start at 1030 a.m. to hike with the falling tide. The crossing at the Ozette River must be done at low tide, so we hoped it would be low enough by the time we got there. The female blond ranger gave us the permit, but precious little information other than, "you won’t be able to even get to the Point of Arches". It’s too bad the Park Service has to employ surly people better suited to jobs that have no human contact. It cost 9 bucks for the hike and 2 dollars to park.

The 3.3 miles down the boardwalk took about an hour, and then we were rewarded with the amazing views off Cape Alava. It was an easy walk 2.3 miles up the beach to the Ozette River. The river was still a bit high and swollen with the runoff from the rain. We crossed at low tide with little difficulty. It did turn some parties back however, and the strong current pushed one guy over! The privy is on the side where no one camps, so it’s a challenge to use it.

We continued on 3.6 miles to the beginning of the Point of Arches headlands. The sandy beach gives way to rocks, cobbles, and boulders, making for strenuous walking with packs, but giving a real feel of wilderness. Few people visit this area, even though the Arches are fantastic to see, especially at low tide. A couple of parties camped at Duck Rock (?) and dayhiked to the Point. We crossed several muddy headlands with the aid of ropes and finally rounded the point for Shi Shi Beach, out destination and camp for the night. It was 4:30 p.m., so we had spent six hours on the trail.

Monday morning we hiked to the shipwreck above Shi Shi Beach and enjoyed watching the Bald Eagles fish in the receding tide. We began our journey back to lake Ozette two hours after high tide to be sure of rounding the headlands in a timely manner. We saw Sea Lions, Sea Otter, Seals, Bald Eagles, Raccoons, and Deer. One even had a new fawn on the beach!

The Olympic Coast is a fantastic area, one we never get tired of visiting. There is 57 miles of primitive hiking along the length of the coast. Ira says this hike is easier to do starting from Shi Shi.

Doerte and Mike Mahanay mike@grandcanyontreks.org


 Sourdough Mountain, Northern Cascades National Park May 13, 2000

The trailhead is in the little village of Diablo, right behind the covered swimming pool. On this beautiful Saturday in May, we saw only one other party who were going out for two nights of snow camping. As with most of the trails in the Northern Cascades, the trail gains altitude extremely quickly and encounters snow around 4,000 feet. There was occasional downfall across the trail, but the thread was easy to follow. We gained 3,000 feet in about three miles before it started to level out a bit. But at about 3,800 feet the snow started and we soon lost the trail under it. We decided to bushwack up the top of the ridge, mostly to the north. We encountered patches of fresh snow of varying depths of one to two feet. Breaking trail was not easy and at out turnaround time of 3:00 p.m. we were still about a mile, at 5,330 feet, and 600 feet from the summit. Bushwacking, we never saw the satellite dish. It was scary and amazing to hear the roar of avalanches on the mountains across the valleys. We even saw one slide down the North face of Colonial Peak. Besides Colonial, we had fantastic close-ups of Snowfield Peak and Davis Peak. We had no mosquito trouble but did find two ticks, (one attacked!) so apply the repellent at the vehicles!

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