Norse Peak VII / 諾爾斯峯之七

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Norse Peak VII, it’s our seventh time to one of my South Cascades favorites. So far, all but the first trip in 2010 have taken place over Thanksgiving. I consider it the best time to avoid crowds. Plus, it’s prettier then.

See you next year, Norse Peak
See you next year, Norse Peak

See more trip photos here.

Norse Peak VII at a Glance

Access: Norse Peak Trailhead
Round Trip: 7.6 miles
Elevation Range: 3960′-6856′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Norse Peak VII

Until late last night, I debated whether to go up to the peak today. For us, the “partly sunny” forecast usually meant no views. Though, it was no showstopper to our Thanksgiving tradition.

In 2018, we went up days earlier. So we could avoid the snowstorms. Glad we did because we ended up with gorgeous weather on top. Then it dumped lots of powder in the area over the holiday.

A cold start on Norse Peak
A cold start on Norse Peak

See more trip photos here.

Crystal Mountain Boulevard

Last year I parked by the gate. But after the climb, I couldn’t get my car off the icy ground. Glad I had met some Mountaineers folks on the summit. So a couple of guys from the group helped to get me out of the ordeal.

But this time, to play it safe, I parked on the south side of the road. So history wouldn’t repeat itself. The snowplows also had cleared the snow for the massive cars going to the ski area. So the roadway was mostly free of ice.

Crystal Mountain Boulevard in the mist
Crystal Mountain Boulevard in the mist

See more trip photos here.

Norse Peak Trail

Judging by the amount of snow here, there was more of it this year! So I put on microspikes by the gate, and then we walked a short way to the trailhead. Glad to see lots of boot tracks from the get-go!

There appeared to be a ton of foot traffic on the trail. So I kept my fingers crossed that they would take us straight up to the top. But I also hoped that there hadn’t been snowfalls since those people were here.

Norse Peak Trailhead
Norse Peak Trailhead

See more trip photos here.

The Broad Gully

It was below freezing on a cloudy morning. In fact, it was colder than last year. But without the 10-mph wind from the forecast, it felt somewhat pleasant. It was still very calm when we went out above the burned forest.

The top of Mount Rainier soon appeared as we prepared to walk across the broad gully. By now, clouds looked like they were clearing. We strolled through to the other side of the basin. But then the trail ended abruptly. Bummer!

Mount Rainier making her entrance
Mount Rainier making her entrance

See more trip photos here.

The Upper Basin

So, we had to break trail after all. I put on snowshoes, and then we continued through to the upper basin. Shortly after, the distant murmur below the gully caught the pups’ attention. So that meant we’d have company at the top.

There was one to two feet of snow. But I wanted to avoid the deeper powder in the upper basin like we did last year. So we moved south and went up on the steep ridgeline. The dry rocks there made the climb more efficient.

Plowing through the basin
Plowing through the basin

See more trip photos here.

Norse Peak VII Summit

The wind started blowing on the ridge. Not sure if it’s ever not been windy on this peak. Then the sun slowly came out from behind the mist. Just as we reached the breezy summit, the clouds above us had nearly cleared. Hooray!

We spent half an hour in solitude. Then the two guys (Lance and Thaddeus) we heard earlier came and joined us on top. They, too, took cover behind the row of dense trees by the bivy site. We chatted a while, and then they left after a quick bite and some beer.

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort south of Norse Peak
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort south of Norse Peak

See more trip photos here.

Outro

Views were gorgeous as always in good weather. The usual views included Mount Rainier, Crystal Mountain, Bullion Peak, and company. Later the low clouds moved into the area. Then the ski area and the valley below soon disappeared.

It didn’t feel as cold as long as we were out of the wind. So the pups and I stayed another half hour before making our way down. But we’ll be back next year!

Mount Rainier panoramic view
Mount Rainier panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. onehikeaweek

      Yep, you got it. It’s the last available pullout parking before the gate. In case you go past it, you’ll turn around at the ski resort.

      Happy outing!

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