2016/4/2 – Cleveland Mountain II / 克里夫蘭山之二

Destination ahead

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Second visit to this mountain after an unsuccessful first attempt under much less optimal weather conditions. Partner and I made it all the way to the upper basin below the summit, but had to turn around as daylight was much shorter then. Back then we walked the service road nearly in its entirety, which I completely avoided this time around.

Pups and I arrived at the NF6420 (Money Creek Road) and NF6422 junction just before 9 and I parked the car on the left side before the bridge. Previously I had driven on NF6422 almost to the first switchback, but I remembered the road was only good for the first one-tenth of a mile, and then the deterioration began with some down trees that were hard to get around. Figured I’d walk the one mile than getting stuck.

At the first road switchback we crossed a stream and continued on an old logging road. Within a hundred feet or so we started scrambling up the ridge to the right of stream (stream being on climbers left). The scramble was straightforward yet typically brushy filled with down trees, and we crossed NF6422 ten times in the process. The road was filled with soft and semi slushy snow, and it would have required putting on snowshoes much earlier had we gone for the long slog instead.

Dense forest between 1750’ and 2050’ and steep terrain between 2400’ and 3500’ elevation. Snow patches started around 2800’ and more snow soon there after. Snow in the shade was firm so I was able to wait and put on snowshoes at 3600’. One trip report suggested negotiating cliff bands at 4400’ by sidestepping on the steep west slopes under the rocks. But after seeing a lot more snow coverage on the ridge than expected, we traversed over the top and dropped into the basin on the south side.

The open area in the basin, snow was beginning to soften up under constant direct sunlight, but still quite manageable without too much postholing. Summit block was visible from the basin with a tiny snow-covered lake. We traversed southeastward on gentle slopes, and attained the northeast ridge at 4850′ after getting through a couple steep spots. From the flat area below the summit the terrain looked steep on all sides, so we slowly contoured east of the summit snow crest and found moderate terrain albeit steep. After carefully examining the snow crest and saw no cornices but with rocks exposing from the bottom, we safely dug a flat area to dodge the mild wind. Miraculous the wind stopped shortly after we arrived on top.

Gorgeous day! Great views were more or less the same as what we had on Easter Peak just two weeks before. But this time we saw more of Highway 2 and the town of Skykomish with South Fork Skykomish River flowing through, and less of Lennox Mountain. On the way down we followed our snow tracks, but took a detour and stopped by the stream not far from bottom of the dense forest at 1750′. Then we proceeded to hike the last two switchbacks on the NF6422 for one miles to the bottom and out to the car.

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