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

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