Photos from this trip can be found here.
Another mountain that had been on my bucket list for awhile. Although I never really looked into it until a couple of recent reports popped up on NWHikers as well as a page dedicated to the mountain on SummitPost. Route finding was still a pain without anyone but the pups to confer with.
One mile on Squire Creek Trail and just before crossing the big creek with a culvert, I randomly picked a spot and entered the woods. The cairn mentioned on SummitPost was nowhere to be found, but eventually I discovered the old trail with flagging around 2200′. Despite down trees and brush along the way, I was lucky enough to be able to follow the trail up to 2900′ before it petered out all together with the flagging. It was around here we traversed onto the next ridge via a minor gully.
We climbed another 400′ before dropping into the major gully through some alder at 3300′. Rather than ascending the gully like most parties do, I managed to find a good spot to attain the next ridge over and ascended the forest instead. At 4300′ we broke out of the forest and got a clear view of rest of the route. Snow started just on the other side of some rock ledges and I put on crampons here. Snow wasn’t too slushy yet so postholing wasn’t an issue.
Firm snow in the steep, narrow gully (4450′) leading up to the lower bowl. I could hear rapid stream running underneath so I took every step cautiously as the pups followed closely behind me. Then I put on snowshoes in the lower bowl at 4700′ and used them all the way to the summit. By now the snow had been in the sun for quite a while, so naturally conditions got slushier the higher we climbed.
Initially I mistook south summit for the middle and went toward the cornice on the middle-south peak saddle. I double checked my GPS and realized that the true summit was now on my left. I then started traversing northeastward toward the north-middle peak saddle and at the same time I noticed the old snowshoe tracks on the slope. Big whew! Slope leading up the saddle felt steeper than the snow gully down below.
Scrambling up to the summit was a bit tricky for the pups as the snow coverage was mostly on the north side, which we needed to avoid. A couple of big steps made it hard for them to jump, but I was able to redirect their steps to get up. Summit area was narrower than I thought, so I constantly ensured the pups didn’t move when I would, and vice versa, to stay safe.
Holy cow, amazing views all around! Of course I said that to just about every summit on a beautiful, bluebird day. Main attractions were definitely Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers, both of which I still haven’t climbed. All major and notable peaks were visible as far as my eyes could take me.
After getting back down into the forest, I managed to find portions of the old trail from 2200′ down to 1600′. Needless to say, it was nice to be able to get down that far without needing to fight my way through brush. And that only left me with another 100′ of scramble to get back onto the main trail.
Approach = not so much; views = A++!