2018/6/2-3 – Holliway Mountain / 霍利威山

True summit
True summit

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Pup and I car camped at the Swamp Creek pullout west of Highway 20 for an early start. We accessed this tucked away high point by using the same initial approach for Mount Hardy. In the morning, we crossed the highway and immediately scrambled up Mount Hardy‘s south ridge. This time we moved farther west in the forest to avoid getting stuck in down trees and heavy brush again.

Open terrain past the forest and through the burned area. I put on snowshoes at 5,400′ for a faster ascent. From 7,200′ to 7,400’ a northeast rising traverse got us onto the east ridge where we got our first look at Tower Mountain and Golden Horn. Still no signs of Holliway Mountain…yet.

First look at Golden Horn and Tower Mountain
First look at Golden Horn and Tower Mountain

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Descending the ridge to just before Point 6818, we found a good place to get into West Fork Methow River Valley on steep slopes. It made sense to bypass Methow Pass, as we wouldn’t have been able to follow the snow-covered Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Staying east of the river, the farther north we traveled the more the elevation loss.

Maintaining an elevation between 4,900′ and 5,100′, we scrambled through forest and a few clearings strewn with many down trees. Snowshoes stayed on or off depending on amount of snow coverage. We crossed Golden Creek at 5,000′ to the north side and traveled east upslope to reach Nugget Lakes Basin at 5,850′. My jaw dropped when the daunting, sheer north face of Golden Horn suddenly came into view.

North face of Golden Horn
North face of Golden Horn

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Instead of going by the lakes, we stayed high and continued to head east and located the snow finger gully at 6,800′. By now we were both exhausted, so the final 1,200′ ascent felt more like a mile-long slog. Snow ended below the summit block and was immediately replaced by massive choss. We took time getting through this section to avoid kicking down rocks at each other.

At first glance, the tower directly overhead looked to be the summit. But as we got higher, slowly I was able to discern the true summit on climbers left. Lots of good holds and ledges past the chossy gully to finish the last bit of scramble. A few large stacked boulders marked the highest point on the broad summit.

Azurite Peak and Mount Ballard
Azurite Peak and Mount Ballard

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Not sure where to begin with all the views, but I sure wasn’t complaining! Apart from the ginormous Golden Horn and Tower Mountain being within arm’s reach, and Azurite Peak and Mount Ballard looming behind us, the southwestern skyline was full of dramatic north faces of innumerable high points.

Over an hour of break on top and we slowly wrapped up our stay. Hard to leave behind all those gorgeous views, but alas, the show must go on… We safely got back down to the snow finger gully and crossed Golden Creek at the same spot. Heading southbound toward head of the basin now meant that we were gaining elevation, grrr… After a couple of hours of hiking, we found a dry spot under a tree and bivvied.

Tower Mountain and Golden Horn
Tower Mountain and Golden Horn

Photos from this trip can be found here.

In the morning, last bit of steep climb back onto the pass meant that we were finally out of the Methow River drainage. Having to gain elevation on the way out on a climb always felt like the crux of the climb! A quick photo break and then we retraced our steps around Mount Hardy.

My right crampon strap had come undone somewhere on the mountain’s steep south face. I didn’t realize I had lost a crampon until after we finished traversing the slopes. But I couldn’t be any happier to be back on the Highway 20 side to finish the final descent.

Swamp Creek panoramic view
Swamp Creek panoramic view

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Access: Swamp Creek
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice axe, snowshoes

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