Saturday, March 26, 2016

Stormy Mountain, Chelan Range

After turning around early a few weeks ago Stormy got under my skin a bit. Armed with a better forecast/conditions, a more direct route and a trail-breaking partner (Eric), we were under six hours car-to-car, which was almost too quick given the lengthy drive.

Instead of the sinuous southwest ridge I tried last time, we started on road 5501 at ~2100' and took the west ridge from 3150' all the way to the summit. Up until 6600' the snow was firm and perfect and we only had some fresh and windblown snow for the last 600' vertical.

The route goes fairly straightforward: no brush, it's reasonably open with no route finding puzzles and nothing steeper than about 45 degrees (and those are short sections). You do gain about 1800' in the last mile to the summit, though. A very good winter-spring route in the right conditions.

12.1m, 5155' gain
Starting out on road 5501 with Stormy 5k' above
Some outcrops to stay north (left) of at ~4900'
Easy travel before the final push to the summit
Ascent ridge behind Eric
Reaching the broad, open summit
The summit offers views from Mt. Adams all the way to the eastern Pasayten
Zoom pano of the northern Chelan range, Entiat range, Glacier Peak, the Dakobed and Glacier Peak Wilderness peaks
Lake Chelan, Manson and Chelan

XC starts at the saddle right mid-ground and follows the middle ridge all the way to the summit; taken at about 2700' on road 5501

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Chuckanut 50k sweeping - 2016

Thanks to Krissy and the usual sweep crew for another year cleaning up the course. This was the first year of the last four that the weather actually was quite nice! Thanks also to the aid volunteers for sticking around for us and to the runners for moving along quite nicely without any issues that required our attention.

Glenn's photos

Monday, March 7, 2016

Stormy Mountain (7196') attempt, Chelan Range

Stormy Mountain is the dominant peak of the southern Chelan Range. When Kevin and I attempted it last March after summiting Baldy Mountain we were turned back by thigh-deep postholing and a nasty wind. Yesterday, with a decent snowpack, snowshoes and reasonably-good forecast I was hoping to do Stormy's entire southwest ridge (~7.5m and 6000' gain just for the ascent).

Stormy Mountain SW ridge route as seen from Baldy Mountain (March 2015)
I ended up making it to point 5731' in just under four hours and getting blocked by the outcrops: the north side had a ton of wind-blown snow and a 4' cornice, while the south side had melting snow on a rock slab with a bad runout. Detouring back along the ridge, dropping down 50-75' and then contouring on the north side through the thick regrowth to regain the ridge past 5731' would definitely go (see ridge photo below).

A shorter winter route goes from the west side of the mountain off of road 5501, but I was unfortunately drawn to the long and sinuous SW ridge. Next time I'll just have to go back and summer when you can practically drive to the summit!

Snow conditions were good in the morning (quite firm and I didn't put on snowshoes until 4400') but by noon everything was sloppy and melting; mashed-potato mush. I wore my snowshoes all the way down to 3800' where I hit dirt. Even if I had reached the final summit ridge, which was fully exposed to the sun, I'm not sure how I would have felt about the conditions.
Entiat River Rd, Entiat River and the beginning on Stormy's SW ridge
Looking up at Stormy (l) and Baldy (r), from about 3900'
Canid tracks were plentiful around 4500-5000'
Looking up the Entiat valley to the central Entiat Range on the left (Kelly, Klone, Devil's Smokestack area) and the northern Chelan Range on the right (Duncan Hill and ridge)
Stormy's SW ridge from 5247'
SW Ridge from 5321'; Point 5731' is the higher-up outcropping area in the middle of the regrowth. The north side of the ridge (left) appears to be an easy work around, though the tree regrowth is pretty dense.
At least the mountains are in focus
Pano from 5731': Fourmile Ridge on the right, Tyee Ridge on the left
Looking back down the ridge from 5731'
Following my tracks out