Sunday, May 1, 2016

Big Jim 7763', Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Big Jim Mountain scrolled across my computer screen on CalTopo a couple of months ago when I was looking for longer winter/spring day trips. While it doesn't seem to get too many early season ascents (except maybe on skis?), the route looked like it didn't have any terrain that would be too limiting if conditions were good.

This route does go through the 2014 Chiwaukum fire, however the trail is in surprisingly good shape, considering. Solid snow started around 5300'. More route details in photo captions below.

Hatchery Creek TH parking lot looking lush
Through the lower burn zone where flowers and brush are thriving
Higher in the burn zone with less regrowth
First view of Big Jim (center right) from the ridge at 5300', looking over the Battle Canyon Creek drainage
Snowshoes on; checking out the Entiat-Dakobed ranges to the north
At the ridge above Cabin Creek basin before dropping down, with the Enchantments beyond; Richard's photo
Cornice activity on Big Slide mountain
Coming up Cabin Creek basin to Lake Augusta
Richard scoping the climb up to the summit plateau
Ben and I starting up the final slope to the summit plateau before Richard took over and kicked monster steps in his ski boots; Richard's photo
Ben and I coming up the last section; Richard's photo
Reaching the summit plateau; Ben's photo
Northwest (L) to northeast from Big Jim's summit
Southeast (L) to southwest, from Big Jim's summit
Zoom of the northern Entiat (r), Bonanza and Chiwawa/Phelps/Napeequa area peaks
Summit ladybugs
Richard, Ben, me and Dave; Big Jim Mountain 7763'
Richard traversing in to drop
He brought his skis for these eight turns...
Back down at Lake Augusta on our way out
Showing our ascent line that split the melting sections and then traversed right to gain the ridge; on descent we came down the dirt/talus and met the snow at the finger in the center of the frame; Richard's turns visible center-left
Climbing back out of the Cabin Creek drainage
One last look at the northern Entiats and Bonanza on the way out...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Three Brothers (7303') and Navaho Peak (7223') via Ingalls Creek, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Sir Hikes wanted miles and I wanted views, so he proposed a less-common approach to Navaho Peak via the Ingalls Creek trail and Falls Creek basin. Having done Navaho via the normal approach from the Teanaway side last year, I suggested we add on Three Brothers just to Navaho's east.

  • Ingalls Creek: first three miles are clear and then it gets surprisingly brushy (decent amount of alder) for such a popular trail; ~15 blowdowns. Immediately after the confluence with Falls Creek look for a log ~.25m upstream (5.4m from TH on my GPS) that is visible from the trail.
  • Falls Creek: faint trail leads up and east to cross Falls Creek (rock hop or ford) and a couple of cairns mark a well-worn trail to the unnamed creek flowing down from Three Brothers' middle summit. Although maps show an abandoned trail crossing both creeks and staying on the west of Falls Creek the terrain looked very difficult. We stayed on the east side of Falls Creek the entire way up the basin. Solid snow started at 4200'.
  • Navaho Peak: at 5400' we headed west into the large NE-facing basin toward Navaho's summit. Snow was solid and good for snowshoes (me) or microspikes (Sir Hikes). At 6600' SHaL took a steep, direct route to the summit while I trended a bit more toward the gentle north ridge and up to the summit. Large east-facing cornices on Navaho's south ridge. 
  • Three Brothers: we dropped down Navaho's SE ridge staying above the cornices and then descended straight east to the Navaho-Three Brothers saddle at 6050'. Taking the normal route up Three Brothers' west side was about half snow and half dirt/rock where we could actually follow the summer trail. On descent we went into Falls Creek basin from the Navaho-Three Brothers saddle, meeting our tracks back at ~5350'. 

Looking across Ingalls Creek after crossing the log
Scooting the Ingalls Creek log; Sir Hikes photo
Falls Creek crossing
Falls Creek crossing; Sir Hikes photo
Reaching some open slide slopes around 4600'
Upper Falls Creek Basin, Navaho summit back center-left
Some steep sections on Navaho's NE slopes
Navaho NE slopes, Three Brothers main/west (right) and middle (left)

Navaho Peak
Stuart-Enchantment and Teanaway ranges
Navaho's south ridge; we descended the ridge in the mid-ground down to the saddle, then up Three Brothers' west ridge
Big cornice failures and more to come, looking back at Navaho's south ridge
Three Brothers wide summit ridge
Reaching Three Brothers summit
Rejoining our tracks in upper Falls Creek basin
Falls coming off McClellan Peak
Zoom of the falls
Sir Hikes styles the Ingalls Creek log; I butt-scooted

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lennox Mountain 5894', Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Lennox Mountain is not one I would ever pick for a beautiful clear day; in all honesty I'm not sure if I'd ever really heard of it before Saturday evening. But Neek suggested it and I failed at coming up with a north-facing alternative.

From the east (via West Fork Miller River), Lennox is a fairly-adventurous route: a few miles of old brushy/rocky/creek-y road and then a 3200' grunt in 2.4 miles up Lennox's SE slope to Coney Lake. It's brushy, but never terrible; snow was sloppy but still passable (beware of melting underneath and potential posthole/punching through to waist depth). There are a couple steep gullies en route as well (see slide photo at bottom). We crossed Coney Lake and followed the east ridge up mellow bumps, past a couple small cornices and up to the summit.

Great views up top from a vantage point I'm not used to. Always interesting to see what someone else picks as a route! Bonus: word is Lennox is visible from Seattle.

Route starting from Miller River Rd; we went left (south) on ascent and took a better, more-direct descent line
Quite a bit of the old mining road looks like this...
...and this, where it was washed out
Starting up Lennox's SE slope
Waterfall around 3500'; went left on the way up but came down on the ridge to the right of it in this photo
Breaking out of the trees around 4500'
Neek at Coney Lake; we crossed and took the east ridge ramp above the trees
Coming up the east ridge, looking back at where the above photo was taken; Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks beyond 
With Glacier Peak and the Dakobed Range
Lennox summit, looking north to the Glacier Peak Wilderness
Looking south to Rainier with Kaleetan and I-90 peaks peeking above the clouds
Rainier, Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks, Stuart, Daniel, Hinman, etc.
One of the steep gullies: we glissaded and Neek brought down this slushy surface slough in a small slide