The Brothers South Route via Lena Lake in Olympic Mountains / 兄弟峯

  • Reading time:6 mins read

The Brothers south route is the typical way to reach the mountain. The striking double-summitted peak by Mount Constance in the Olympic Mountains is visible from Seattle. But the 16-mile, roundtrip via Lena Lake can often make a long day.

The Brothers summit staring down
The Brothers summit staring down

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The Brothers at a Glance

Access: Lena Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: 16.7 miles
Elevation Range: 660′-6842
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Lena Lake Trail

It would be a long day ahead. So the pup and I started walking at a quarter to 5 in freezing yet tolerant temperatures. The wind chill at the switchbacks added more discomfort. But before long, we were passing Lena Lake.

Soon, we bypass the down Douglas fir on the left. The crew had put lots of effort into breaking down the fallen tree. Then in two more junctions, we were at the Lena Creek crossing. Too bad we couldn’t see the magnificent lake in pitch black.

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Crossing Lena Creek

One report mentioned that the crossing was the crux of the approach. But it didn’t turn out to be the case for us. Though, the pup and I initially went farther upstream and hopped up to the big log jam.

Even with a headlamp, it was hard to see across the creek. So we turned around and saw that we could cross the shallow water next to the fading trail. Though hidden, the path reappeared on the other side.

The Brothers Wilderness
The Brothers Wilderness

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Valley of the Silent Men

Later we entered the wilderness at 2200′. Then we crossed East Fork Lena Creek’s dry bed in the so-called Valley of the Silent Men. The last two creek crossings were over the creek before the water went underground.

Here the moss has taken over much of the terrain. But there wasn’t much to enjoy in the dark in this narrow valley. The flagging had guided our way. Though, at times, the trail was still hard to follow.

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Climbers’ Camp and Onward

Later at another 800′ altitude, we reached the climbers’ campsite. Though, we weren’t halfway through the total elevation gain yet. In other words, we still had another 4000′ to climb over the next 2+ miles.

Behind the firepit was a faint trail. So we went northwest on the path. Soon, it disappeared under down trees. But we quickly located the next part and continued uphill.

Through the old burn
Through the old burn

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Through the Old Burn

Cairns surfaced as we went out into the first clearing. From there, I had my first sighting of the summit ridge. Once we went through the tall shrubs, it was time to fight our way through more down trees. According to SummitPost, the area had endured two wildfires in the past. The most recent one took place in 2003.

Fortunately, many cairns guided us in the general direction. The faint path under the massive down trees was visible and somewhat intact. But rather than trying to follow the fallen tree-covered trail, it was more comfortable to walk on the trees. Views behind us gradually came to light after we gained more elevation through this section.

Looking back
Looking back

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The Brothers Scree Pathways

Just past the down trees was the continuous scree terrain. Somehow I had expected to see the leftover snow from September. But to my surprise, there was none.

The sub-freezing temperatures in the basin had turned small waterfalls into icicle drapes. There was a path to follow. Though, at times, it was hard to keep my balance over the rolling rocks.

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En Route to the South Gully

The path turned north at 4400′. Then it slowly took us up onto the south ridge at 5200′. Following the cairns, the route then took a turn at 5600′ and went west.

By doing so, we, in turn, avoided the cliffs higher up on the ridgeline. We went into the main gully shortly. Then we began the most tedious part of the climb. Grr. Where’s the snow when we needed it?

South gully
South gully

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The Brothers South Route

The cairns had somehow vanished the minute we went into the gully. But we continued to scramble as the couloir continued to steepen. Soon, at 6000′, we moved west to bypass the giant rock steps.

Before long, we were climbing on scree slopes below the southwest ridge. But the route ended up being a much better choice for the pup. Soon, I saw the dusting of powder below the top.

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The Final Stretch

From the slopes, I also saw the cairns I thought that had vanished. So that would be our route to go back. Hooray! Later at 6650′ below the ridgeline, we made a right and entered a narrow, icy passage.

Above the entrance was a brief section of a snow gully that led to the top. As it turned out, our scree route avoided the gully entirely. I was able to kick steps in the soft snow without crampons.

Four volcanoes panoramic view
Four volcanoes panoramic view

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The Brothers Summit Views

The pups and I had only been up a few places in the Eastern Olympic Mountains. I knew Mount Olympus was somewhere to the west, and Mount Constance was just north of here. But I couldn’t name the others.

A thin haze loomed over the eastern horizon. Still, it was our first trip with open views to the east. So the volcanoes, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams, were still visible.

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Outro

Burr. Even the blazing sun couldn’t bring temperatures above freezing point. Having snow in the gully would’ve sped up the descent. We could’ve even plunge-stepped our way down.

After going through the old burn, we went right back into the shade. Soon, we were down at the campsite. Then we began the uneventful, six-mile hike out to the car.

Thanks for another safe outing
Thanks for another safe outing

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rob Albright

    Enjoyed all your trips in the Pasayten. We have packed in lots of times but not much fun since the fires. Our favorite spot is on Timberwolf Creek past McCall Gulch.

    1. onehikeaweek

      Hi Rob! Thanks for the feedback. I, too, enjoy the Pasayten Wilderness. McCall Gulch also was one of my favorite places to camp.

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