Month: June 2012

Team Pursuit

I’m super psyched about the Olympics this summer and looking forward to some great coverage of world-class track racing. Here’s a quick video of the NZ Olympic pursuit team during a practice session from the rider’s view. They get moving really fast at about 1:11.

(Yes, it’s four and a half minutes of looking at cyclists’ butts. Are you suggesting there’s something wrong with this?!)

Mt. Snoqualmie on the Solstice

Set a personal record up Mt. Snoqualmie tonight: 1 hr 41 minutes. Celebrating with a Full Sail Amber seemed jut the right thing. Life is good.

One peak closer to finishing the “Snoqualmie Ten”

When you climb as often as I do, it’s good to have goals. And I’m not talking about getting to the top of today’s peak. That’s only a baby goal. I’m talking Goals with a capital G!

You’ve probably heard of the seven summits (highest peak on each continent), the Colorado 14ers, and the world 8000-meter peaks. In Washington, the grand-daddy of climbing goals is summiting all the peaks on the Bulger List – the 100 highest peaks in the state with 400 feet of prominence. It usually takes a lifetime to complete. There are other lists too – more modest ones like the Snoqualmie Ten, Cascade Classics, Teanaway Peaks, Alpine Lakes Homecourt 100, etc.

Realizing the other day that I had climbed 8 of the 10 peaks on the Snoqualmie Ten list, I decided it was high time to knock off the last two. First up, Denny Mountain! Anyone who’s skied at Alpental has been almost to the top of this one. The Eidelweiss Chair takes you to within about 300′ of the summit. In spring, though, you have to hike up under your own power.

With the prospect of bad weather just about everywhere, I joined a group of hearty Mountaineers on Saturday for a murky scramble. (A few hours of snow slogging at the Pass was truly the best option out there. The promise of excellent company elevated it over cleaning the basement.) We departed from the parking lot in good spirits despite the rain.

We followed the Armstrong Express chairlift up the ski slopes, which are now only occupied by the lone skier who is willing to hike for his turns.

Looking back across the valley, we could see four waterfalls under the cloud ceiling. It’s easy for people in Washington to take this kind of beauty for granted, but we paused to express appropriate admiration.

The rain let up about half way up the run. Steph and Manisha are all smiles at our first break.

Pretty soon we were climbing up into the clouds.

Sometimes we climb high enough that we climb out of the clouds – like an airplane. It was not to be today.

Stephanie is still smiling though.

The normal route in the summer was a no-go because of the snow cover on downward sloping slabs. Instead, we dropped west into Edelweiss Bowl and hiked past the ski area boundary to the back side of Denny. From there it was a steep traverse to the summit. Manisha did a great job of route finding and step kicking. I solidified the steps and the students followed behind.

Three hours after leaving the parking lot we finally made it to the summit. Of course, the views weren’t what we were hoping for.

Photo courtesy of Justin McClellan

The way back was about as fun as you could imagine with a bunch of fast glissades back to the parking lot. Woohoo!


Round Trip: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2400’
Highest Point: 5520’

TH to Summit of the Lookout: 3 hours
Summit to TH: 2 hours

Dirtyface x 2

The first weekend in June, I planned to lead a climb of Mt. Hood. Foiled by bad weather, Mike and I decided to head to Lake Wenatchee and exercise our legs on Dirtyface Peak. We had a solid crew with us: Eileen, Terra, Micah, Michael G, Sandra V, and Hideko.

This is not a trail that kids around. The steep switchbacks start right at the trailhead. We crisscrossed the mountain for a couple thousand feet until we reached snow at 4000′. Then it was straight up to the ridgline and the summit of our first peak – Dirtyface Lookout.

The view of Lake Wenatchee and Fish Lakes was pretty amazing from here, thanks to the forest fire that cleared out those pesky trees:

The weather station at the top of Dirtyface Lookout at last!

The wind was blowing hard and we took shelter behind a rock while we refueled; 3900′ of elevation gain was hardly enough for one day!

From the lookout, we dropped about 700′ and traversed below the ridgeline that connects the lookout to Dirtyface Benchmark.

Our route from the Lookout to the Benchmark, as seen from the Benchmark:

The final push to the summit:

There really is a USGS benchmark on top of Dirtyface Benchmark. Guess we’re not the first ones to get here.

The team that made it to Dirtyface Benchmark:

Getting There: Drive Hwy 2 east to the Lake Wenatchee turn-off (Hwy 207).  Continue  8.5 miles to the Ranger Station. The trail head is behind the Ranger Station (elevation 2040′).


Round Trip: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 5479’
Highest Point: 6223’

TH to Summit of the Lookout: 2 hours 45 minutes
Summit of Lookout to Benchmark:  2 hours 15 minutes
Summit of Benchmark to TH: 2 hours 45 minutes

Dragontail (attempt)

Memorial Day weekend, I led my first climb of the year for the Mountaineers – Dragontail in the Enchantments. John, Marla, Rena, Monica, Hideko, Burke, Robin, and Abby battled epic 3-day-weekend traffic on Friday night to get to Leavenworth. We arrived just after dark and set up camp in the trailhead parking lot.

At 6 a.m. the next morning we were off. We headed to Colchuck Lake and arrived about 2 1/2 hours later. After a short break, we traversed around the lake and ascended the Colchuck Glacier to the Colchuck Col. We turned left and climbed the steep snow couloir to the notch just below Pandora’s Box. I completely forgot that we needed to go left up the rocks. Instead we looked at a 200′ descent on 70 degree snow. We only had a 30m rope. That meant turning around. Drats!

Our descent from Pandora’s Box was sketchy. The glissade from Colchuck Col back to the lake, however, was outstanding.

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