Clark Mountain Attempt

Clark Mountain (8,602ft) Attempt to 5,000ft

Eric and Duncan

October 24, 2017

The Tuesday weather forecast was warm and sunny, so Duncan and I drove out of town Monday night to the White River trailhead. The previous weekend was extremely wet, with 5-10″ of water equivalent, which translated to up to 9ft of snow at the higher elevations. We thought snowline would be around 5,000ft, but unfortunately it was all the way down to 2,000ft at the trailhead.

We knew the unexpected snow would slow us down, but we decided to give the mountain a shot anyways. After a shorty foray on an incorrect trail in the morning, we eventually started hiking on the correct trail at 5am. The snow was about 6″-12″ deep for the first 4 miles, but eventually got up to several feet deep higher on the mountain. We took turns breaking trail, but didn’t reach the edge of treeline until 10:30am. The snow looked to be getting even deeper higher up, where we’d have to leave the trail.

We projected that we could make the summit (the weather was amazing), but probably wouldn’t get back to the car before midnight at our pace. That didn’t sound good to me, since I had to give an 8am lecture the next morning that I didn’t want to risk missing, so we decided to turn around.

We made it to the car by 3:30pm, after 19-miles of hiking, so it was still a good workout. Hopefully I can return soon to take advantage of the broken trail.

Silver Peak

Silver Peak (5,605ft)

Eric and Birkan

October 22, 2017

Birkan and I decided to get some exercise in on Sunday despite all the rain and wind, so we drove up to Snoqualmie Pass in the morning, then along a rough forest service road to the PCT junction and Windy Pass. We hiked south on the PCT in the cold rain for a few hours, then cut right up a climbers trail towards Silver Peak. The snow got deeper and deeper, eventually a few feet deep. We popped out of the trees amid strong wind and snow, and scrambled up the steep ridge to the summit. It felt like a winter day on Mt Washington in New Hampshire.

Before long we retreated back to the safety of the trees, and hiked back to the car, soaking wet.

Remmel Mountain

Katie approaching the summit, with the Pasayten Wilderness below

Remmel Mountain (8,685 ft)

Eric and Katie

October 14-15, 2017

The fires in the  Pasayten had finally died down with the fresh snow, so we headed out Friday night to try to climb Remmel Mountain, one of the Washington Hundred Highest peaks that’s farthest away from Seattle. The original plan was to drive to the 30-mile-campground trailhead past Winthrop, but unfortunately we discovered at midnight that the road was closed 10 miles before the trailhead for some construction. I guess I didn’t do all my homework researching this trip.

Near our campsite at Four Point Lake

There was another trailhead about 15 miles farther north from the closure point, near Windy Peak, but it would require an additional 2.5-hour drive spiraling around to Loomis to get there. I really wanted to climb Remmel still, so kept driving. We reached the new trailhead around 3am, and it looked like winter already up there at 6,000 ft. There were a few inches of snow on the ground, and the temperature was only 7F !

We slept in the car next to a few other trucks (probably hunters), and got up at 9am the next morning. What was supposed to be a “sunny” day turned out to be snow showers all day. The trail was pretty, though, as we descended down to the Chewuch River, then up the river to Four Point Lake about 13 miles later. There were 6 inches of snow on the ground at the lake, and it was still actively snowing and socked in at 4pm when we arrived. Our original plan was to summit that evening, but instead we decided to just break trail a mile farther, then return the next morning in hopes of better weather.

By sunset we were back at the lake. We cooked a quick dinner of Ramen Noodles and went to sleep. Luckily it wasn’t

Eric near the summit

as cold that night, maybe only in the 20s, and we got up at 5am to start our trip. We hiked the first mile or so in the dark, following our tracks, and by dawn were hiking up the southeast slope of Remmel on an excellent old abandoned trail. This is actually one of only two of the Washington Hundred Highest mountains that has a trail to the top!

It was still tough at times breaking trail through the deep snow, but we summitted at 8am under clear skies. We’d definitely made the right call to wait for the weather to improve. We could see British Columbia just 10 miles to our north, and Mt Baker far to the west.

After a short break we descended back down to the lake, and hiked back out to the car. All the snow had melted from the trailhead when we got back around 3:45pm, and lots more hunters were parked in the lot. It was a long 6-hour drive back to Seattle, but we stopped in Winthrop on the way for a nice dinner.

Enchantments Peakbagging

Five Mountains in the Enchantments

At the top of Asgard Pass at 8am

Enchantment Peak (8,520ft), Cannon Mountain (8,638ft), Mclellan Peak (8,364ft), Little Annapurna (8,440ft), Dragontail Peak (8,840ft)

Eric Gilbertson

October 7, 2017, 4:30am – 7:30pm

35 miles, 12,000ft elevation gain.

Another snowstorm was set to hit the cascades on Saturday, but east of the crest looked potentially dry. It was peak fall-color season, especially for the larches, and I decided to hike into the enchantments. The weather was supposed to be a few inches of fresh snow, extremely windy, and cold.

I drove out Friday night and got to a mile from the trailhead by midnight, but was blocked by a tree that had fallen across the road. It was high enough that cars could squeeze under, but with the top-carrier mounted I was completely blocked. I vainly tried to cut out the tree with a hatchet, but the wood was too hard and the tree too big.

Looking back down at Colchuck Lake

I ended up parking right next to the tree and sleeping in the car. Several other vehicles drove by throughout the night, and by 4:30am I decided to start hiking. I soon made it to the Stuart Lake trailhead and hiked up to Colchuck Lake by sunrise. One hiker was already descending, having bailed out of a planned thru-hike when he encountered snow and wind.

The talus leading to Asgard pass had a dusting of snow, and definitely required caution not to slip. It was extremely windy and quite cold on the way up, and reminded me of a winter hike above treeline in New Hampshire. Unfortunately at that point I realized I had left my gloves, hat, and sweater back in the car. It was too far away to go back and get, so I determined to just keep moving throughout the day to not get cold.

I reached the pass by 8am, and luckily the wind died down on the enchantment plateau. The sun also intermittently poked out to the east, and the skies were actually clear down toward Wenatchee. I soon left the trail heading left, and scrambled up to the summit of Enchantment Peak by 9am. I had originally planned to just hit four mountains, but since I was on top of my first one so early in the day, and I was feeling strong, I decided to add on one more mountain.

From the summit I descended to Prussik Pass, and then traversed over to Cannon Mountain. As I crested the plateau below the summit I was met with a whiteout, but I persisted across the plateau up to the summit pyramid. I had climbed Cannon a few years earlier, and this memory helped me navigate. The final scramble up the snow-covered

slab to the summit was pretty exhilarating, and I paused only long enough to tag the highest rock before descending.

The view east, with Mclellan Peak in the distance

Within 20 minutes after leaving the top the skies opened back up, and I got excellent views of the yellow larches surrounding the alpine lakes. I descended and traversed back to Prussik Pass, then followed the trail to Leprechaun Lake. By now there were quite a few other hikers in the area.

I soon left the trail at the east end of the lake, and that was my last encounter with other hikers the whole day. From

At Prussik Pass

the lake I scrambled up toward McLellan Peak, skirting the edge of a permanent snowfield, then crossing to the south side of the ridge. I finally made a short 3rd class climb to the summit, and signed my name in the register. This was actually the only mountain of the day that had a register.

After a 5-minute food break I descended back down and traversed through talus to Crystal Lake. I filled up my 3rd liter of water for the day here, then hiked steeply up to the summit of Little Annapurna, reaching the top at 2:30pm for my 4th mountain of the day. The views were still amazing, and the biting cold even let up as the sun came out.

I soon descended, traversing west again to hit my last mountain of the day, Dragontail. Unfortunately there were several large icy snowpatches to cross, and I spent some time switching in and out of crampons. At one point I was scrambling down a ridge, downclimbing a few steep sections, when I reached a rappel anchor. I knew the route below would likely be pretty technical, so I climbed back up 50ft, then luckily found an easy way down to the bottom.

On top of Dragontail

By this point it was 3:30pm and I was finally at the base of Dragontail. I tried to take a shortcut ascending directly up the rock bands to the snowfield on the east face, but got cliffed-out and had to turn around. I eventually met up with the normal cairned route. At the snowfield I switched to crampons and carefully ascended the icy slope, then scrambled the last hundred feet up rock to the summit.

I soon retraced my steps, carefully downclimbed the slope, and eventually reached Asgard Pass by 5pm. Throughout the day there had been intermittent snowshowers, but at 5pm it started snowing really hard. The visibility dropped, and it was pretty hard to find the trail descending down to Colchuck lake.

Luckily I reached the lake and the trees well before dark, and followed the trail easily down. The snow turned to heavy rain around 4,000ft, just after dark, and I ended running the last few miles to the trailhead by 7:20pm. Of course, I still wasn’t back to the car, so I started jogging back in the dark. A nice hiker picked me up and gave me a ride back to the car, and I was surprised to see the tree was already cut out!

I hadn’t really added up the mileage before the trip, so I was pretty surprised when I noticed my fitbit said I’d gone 35 miles (and 75,000 steps!). But I later added it up and this seemed consistent with trail mileages. Also, I’d been moving fast for 15 hours and had never taken more than a 5-minute break, so the mileage seemed accurate. I made it back to Seattle that night, ready for another hike Sunday.

Bandera Mountain

Bandera Mountain (5,241ft)

Eric and Katie

October 3, 2017

We left town Tuesday afternoon to take advantage of the sunny weather. After a few hours hiking we hit the summit of Bandera with excellent views of Rainier, and got back to the car just after sunset.

French Cabin Mtn

French Cabin Mountain (5,724ft), Kachess Ridge (5,525ft), Hard Knox (5,841ft)

Eric Gilbertson

October 1, 2017

It was a rainy and snowy weekend, so I decided to hike some below-treeline mountains not too far away. I left town Sunday morning and reached the trailhead north of French Cabin Mountain around 11am.  I first hiked up French Cabin Mountain in the rain, then descended the trail and bushwhacked up Kachess Ridge. To round out the trip I hiked and bushwhacked up Hard Knox, hitting Not Knox and Hard Cheese mountains on the way.