Sunday, June 18, 2017

Holliway Mountain 8020'+, North Cascades

Being a remote, difficult-to-reach peak, Holliway Mountain is almost exclusively climbed by people going for the Washington Top 200 list. This was Eric's 155th peak on the list and a climb I was proud to do with him given the difficulty of the route (but still being non-technical climbing).

We parked at the pullout just south of Swamp Creek, walked back up the highway and started the standard Hardy approach, contouring toward Methow Pass around 7300' (we traversed lower on the return since the snow had softened up). We were mostly able to follow the PCT corridor through snow, turning off toward Golden Creek (or Nugget Creek) at 4650' and crossing around 5100'. We went all the way up to the lakes taking the obvious gully that runs uninterrupted for 2200' vertical to a notch just below the summit. We skipped a small cliff band down low on the gully's rib, doing the same on the way down. We used crampons and poles almost all day; took axes but the steep sections were soft enough that poles were more useful.

We were only the 11th party to sign the register. The original register from 1981 is still there as is a new Fay Pullen register from 2010. Here are Dan Sjolseth's scanned slides from the first ascent.

16 miles, 9400' gain

Looking south after breaking out into the old burn; Swamp Creek parking area at bottom with Fisher, Black and Corteo

On the approach with Hardy above

Dropping down to the Methow Pass area, with Tower and the PCT

PCT above Swamp Creek, switchbacks at Granite Pass

Crossing Golden Creek

Looking down on Nugget Lakes

2000' of snow gully to Holliway's summit

Climbing up the gully, Eric's photo
About 150' vertical of class 2 rock to the notch below the summit

Holliway Mountain summit, Azurite beyond

Looking south (left) to northwest: Tower, Golden Horn, North Cascades National Park across the center, Azurite

Looking northeast over Handcock Ridge into the Pasayten

The new Fay Pullen register from 2010; only the fifth party (I would much rather do this with spring snow than in the fall in scree)

Golden Horn and Black Peak, and a distant Glacier Peak

Logan (center) flanked by Buckner (left) and Forbidden

The Southern Pickets, Fury, Luna

Jack, with Redoubt and Bear at left

Putting crampons back on to descend to Nugget Lakes

Eric climbing back up to Methow Pass, with Golden Horn

Looking southeast to southwest from the western end of Methow Pass

Descending the Hardy approach back to Highway 20

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Gardner Mountain 8898', Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness

Similar to Mt. Maude, Gardner Mountain has been a trip I've wanted to do for a few years but it's never been a high-enough priority to actually schedule it. When Ben randomly suggested it this week and didn't mind the long driving day it seemed like a smart choice. It'll be snow free and an even quicker trip in a few weeks. No cars at the TH in the morning or afternoon, didn't see a single person...
  • Approximately 30 blowdowns from TH to Gardner Meadows.
  • Essentially snow free to Gardner Meadows. On the climb: soft and unconsolidated snow, from 3" to 3' deep and melting fast. Easy to posthole to the ground; probably snow free in a few weeks. Used pole and axe, spikes not needed. 
First trip to the Chelan-Sawtooth for 2017

Along the Wolf Creek trail

Wolf Creek

Baby aspens on the way to Gardner Meadows

Glacier lilies in Gardner Meadows

The route up Gardner: go 3000' straight up

About halfway up Gardner; Ben's photo

Gardner Mountain summit 8898'

Chelan-Sawtooth, Wenatchee, Entiat/Glacier Peak, North Cascade ranges, from the summit of Gardner

Dome Peak, Chikamin Glacier

Bonanza and Dark Peak, Glacier Peak beyond

Gardner Mountain breccia

More breccia

Nice full halo

Cruising back down Wolf Creek; Ben's photo


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Point 7248', Pasayten Wilderness

After doing Bear Skull Mountain last Memorial Day, doing another peak off of the Devils Dome Loop this year seemed like a reasonable idea, especially with the excellent forecast. Sir Hikes A Lot joined for what was mostly a great day (one navigation issue noted below). Point 7248' (South Jackita) is an easily-attainable ridge bump above the Jackita Ridge trail with excellent views to the central Pasayten, and large swaths of North Cascades National Park.

  • There is a difficult-to-pass blowdown almost immediately after crossing Canyon Creek (see below). ~15 more blowdowns up the trail to McMillan Park; the stream at 4700' is raging hard in the melt, but passable. 
  • Solid snow started at ~4800' with 2-3' in McMillan Park and above. South-facing slopes already melting bare. Snow of 24"+ depth was good for walking, anything shallower was melted through to the ground. Carried snowshoes, axe, spikes. Used poles. 
  • I marked a waypoint on my phone (Topo Maps) on the way up when we hit solid snow and left the trail. On the way down we missed it and then instead of backtracking, looked at maps and noted that we were essentially on the trail. Problem is the trail is an entire ridge off on every map I've now looked at. We were pretty sure we knew where we were and it felt wrong, so we schwacked to where we thought the trail should be and that's where it was, way off from where USGS, FS and other maps show it. Sigh...Only bonus was we skipped the difficult ford.

May be difficult with overnight packs, runs steeply down into the creek
The ford at 4700', knee-deep and running fast with melt


Following fresh bear tracks through McMillan Park

McMillan Park with 7111, 7248 (S. Jackita) and Jackita

Crossing the Nickol Creek headwaters

Heading up the ridge north of Devils Park, with 7248'

Cady Pass trail switchbacking up, with Mount Ballard 

Looking south from the summit of 7248'

West to north, from the summit of 7248'

Devils Dome and Bear Skull Mountain

Davis, Despair and Hagan (?)

Falls draining into Devils Creek headwaters

Osceola, Caru, Lago and Ptarmigan


Prophet to Redoubt, Mox and Spickard of the Chilliwack group

Sir Hikes A Lot descending, w/Crater and Jack

Unimpressed, after our unintended off-trail adventure