Driveway Butte

On the summit

Driveway Butte – 5,982 ft

February 26, 2017

Eric and Katie

The original plan was to climb a Washington Hundred Highest mountain – Silverstar Peak (8,800ft). But when we arrived at Mazama in eastern Washington friday night, we discovered the road was closed an extra 7 miles from the trailhead. The WSDOT report online said it was plowed, but that was apparently not true.

Our weather window would close Saturday afternoon when a storm was predicted to come in, and the extra 7 mile approach made it pretty unlikely we could beat the storm. So instead we decided to hike up a closer, shorter mountain below treeline. Driveway Butte fit the bill.

Saturday morning we walked past all the backcountry skiers snowmobiling up the closed highway 20 and soon reached our trailhead. A few hours of snowshoeing brought us to the summit and we had excellent views of peaks in the Pasayten Wilderness to the north. We saw Silverstar as well, and by mid afternoon it was enveloped in clouds as predicted.

We found a good car camping spot that night, and Sunday stopped for a small detour in the wild west town of Winthrop before returning to Seattle.


Mt Washington

Mt Washington – 4,400ft

Feb 18, 2017

Eric and Katie

We were looking for a short hike in the rainy/snowy weather, and Mt Washington is about the closest 4,000ft mountain to Seattle. We hit the trail by noon, ran into another group of Mitocers on they way up, and were back to the car before sunset.

Oval Peak Ski Mountaineering

Oval Peak (8,795ft)

David approaching the summit

Eric and David

February 11/12, 2017

We left the Twisp River Sno Park at 6am Saturday morning and skinned up about 9 miles to the west buttermilk trailhead. After following the trail for about 3 miles we cut up into the woods on the right. It was very steep and slow going on the skis, but an hour after dark we reached a flat area around 6500ft and set up camp.

The next morning we left camp around 5:45am, ascended an even steeper slope, then reached a big plateau east of the peak. We ascended the east ridge of oval peak, and were forced to ditch our skis just above treeline. There were too many boulders sticking out for it to be skiable. We continued climbing, avoiding huge cornices on the right side of the ridge, and summitted at 9:30am.

The ski back to camp was amazing, but descending from camp to the trail was difficult in the dense trees. We eventually reached the road, which was compacted by snowmobiles, and arrived at the car at 5:30pm, ready for the long drive back to Seattle.

Mt Osceola Alpine Ice Climbing

Osceola Dog Leg Slide Alpine Ice Climbing

Kyle climbing one of the WI2 bulges

February 4, 2017
Eric, David, Kevin, Kyle, Mike, Ana, John, Donald, Greg, Nicholas

We parked at Greeley Ponds trailhead, and walked down the Kanc for 1 mile to the East Pond trailhead, which is currently unplowed. From here we hiked up the east pond trail until about a quarter mile beyond the stream crossing, then cut left into the woods near a large boulder on the right.

A bit of bushwhacking led us to the main slide, where we split up into four rope teams, two groups of three and two groups of two. After staggering our starts, there was plenty of room in the gully to accommodate all climbers.

The route was a bit snowy, so only had about 3 or four short pitches of WI2 or so ice, but we had fun climbing the snow in between and practicing mountaineer rope coils.

At the top of the climb we followed a secret trail to the summit of Osceola, then had fun glissading back to the cars. In all it was about a 10-hour round trip.

Mount Lowell Ice Climb

Rapping the route

Mt Lowell, Unnamed route on SW face (WI 3)

Eric and Dave

February 3, 2017

We left Boston at 5:30am Friday morning, seeking an ice climbing place where there would be no crowds. That weekend was the annual New England Ice Fest, and all the usual places would likely have lines. Not Mount Lowell. The ice there was not in any guidebook, and it’s unclear if it’s ever been climbed. It also required a 6-mile hike in plus some bushwhacking. There was a good chance we’d have it all to ourselves.

I’d seen a broad 250ft tall cliff on the side while hiking up Mt Carrigain years ago, and had wanted to check it out for a while. By 9:30am we were on the trail hiking. We pulled sleds on the mostly flat trail, and encountered a few other hikers descending the mountain. A few hours later we reached the height of land in Carrigain notch, and saw a few promising ice lines on the cliff on the southwest face of Mt Lowell.

We kept hiking until we’d seen the whole cliff, and chose to climb the line on the far left (north) side of the cliff. We would have to save the other lines for another time.

A short bushwhack, then a snowfield climb led us to the base of the cliff and a wide WI3 flow of yellow ice all the way up the cliff. Dave led up with me belaying in the snow. When Dave reached the end of the rope, we started simul-climbing until Dave reached the trees above and built an anchor. The climb was fun, but it was hard to keep my hands warm in the cold.

It’s unclear if the route has been climbed before, but we left a rappel anchor so now anyone else going in will know it has been climbed. We rapped down, and started the long hike back to the car, reaching it by 7pm.


Robinson Mountain (attempt)

Robinson Mountain (8,726 ft)

Birkan on the summit ridge

Eric and Birkan

January 28-29, 2016

Robinson Mountain is one of the few Washington Hundred Highest mountains with a trailhead that is reasonably accessible in the winter. With a good weather forecast, we drove out to near Mazama Friday night and camped out in the car at the Yellow-Jacket sno-park. By 5:45am Saturday morning we started hiking the 3 miles to the trailhead on snowmobile trails.

The trail was (unsurprisingly) not broken, and we spent the next 9 hours breaking trail. Shortly before sunset we reached a flat area at 6,5000ft in the cirque southeast of the peak, and  pitched camp. I had a bit of extra energy, so while Birkan was melting snow I broke out a trail up to the SE ridge to  give us a head start the next morning.

We were hiking by 6am the next morning, and soon gained the ridge. The conditions were tricky, with the snow deep enough to warrant snowshoes, but steep enough to want crampons. We carefully avoided cornices, and at one point pitched out a short 4th class section. By 9am we determined our progress was much too slow to reach the summit that day, so we bailed out and descended back to camp. We made it back to the car that afternoon, and back to Seattle that night.