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timberghost
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PostMon Feb 22, 2021 5:38 am 
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cascadeclimber
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PostMon Feb 22, 2021 8:50 am 
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Mailbox Sunday. Started up around 11:00 after waiting a few minutes for a parking spot (the upper lot gate is closed). I was surprised to find so much snow at the trailhead.

The temp when I left Issaquah was about 48. Trailhead temp was 40. That's an unusual difference.

The trail was slushy and slippery in places, but not icy- temps seemed isothermal until I got to treeline. Just one pair of other folks there and I added a layer and put on goggles before going out into the wind and driving rain and freezing rain.

The switchback trail in the boulders is obliterated. I follow a set of track starting directly up the boulders, but that one person turned around shortly after leaving the trail. From there to the top I was mostly breaking trail. The wind, as usual, was strongest on the boulder field. Gusts stopped me in my tracks multiple times.

Above the boulders and around the corner, there were deep drifts- knee to mid-thigh. Never seen them that big there. It was arduous getting to the top- trying to see the  trail where the old snow was packed down under the new snow for less postholing. I erred to the right on the first, longer pitch to stay off the broader open area. The snowpack there is deep and water-soaked to the ground. Areas I punched through I could see plain slush down deep. Most of it has a medium surface crust.

Vis was poor. Up higher I was careful to stay climber's right as I suspect that cornices have now formed to the left. I didn't stop at the top- pirouetting and immediately starting down, with cold, cold rain being driven through my softshell pants and running down my jacket into my gloves.

Goggles. I don't remember when I started tossing a pair of clear ski goggles in my pack for Mailbox in winter, but they are invaluable. The wind tends to be out of the south/southwest and so blows right into your face on the descent.

In the deep drifts just before turning the corner to the boulders I noticed the Snowline walking crampon had come off my left foot. I was not about to turn around to look for it. It was kind of an interesting experience getting back down with just one, but the softer snow meant it wasn't awful. I cratered once, at the very last switchback before the flats, right after thinking, "this corner could be slippery and is the last place I could fall today." Hah.

Back at the car, the full lot had winnowed to three cars. I put on dry clothes and snuck in a Cable Line before heading home.

Excellent day of Type 2 fun on Mailbox. Nice to have some solitude up there.

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