Forum Index > Trip Reports > Falling on Tommy Thompson, 6/28 - 6/29/08
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostWed Jul 02, 2008 1:17 am 
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June 28-29, 2008
Tommy Thompson 6780 plus Points 6095 & 6142
Party:  Matt, mtnmike, ErinB, Suzanne R


(Edited Edit:  My rib wasn't cracked after all.  Medical update is at bottom of this trip report.)

Tommy Thompson is a little-known peak northwest of Snowking, unofficially named after an early Skagit district ranger.  But with about 1700 feet of prominence, it stands out quite nicely in its own right, and gives a great viewpoint for the area.  (It also is a long name to type, so I will sometimes hereinafter abbreviate it to TT.)

I first noticed it on a 3/13/04 climb of Boulder Peak, where its north side looked quite attractive above Jordan Lake.

Tommy Thompson from Boulder
Tommy Thompson from Boulder
TT & neighbors from Boulder
TT & neighbors from Boulder

For this trip, we approached from the south side via Slide Lake, so we could also tag some bonus points closer to Snowking.

Tommy Thompson Trip Map
Tommy Thompson Trip Map

We hiked in via Slide Lake and Otter Creek.  Distance-wise, it was a short approach, but brushy sections made it more work.  The trail to Slide Lake was in fairly good condition through mossy old-growth forest.  Along the length of Slide Lake it continued okay, though occasionally confusing due to many fishermenís side paths.

Trail crew proud of its work on the the trail
Trail crew proud of its work on the the trail
Fisherman on a log raft on Slide Lake
Fisherman on a log raft on Slide Lake

With temperatures in the 80ís, I took the legs off my pants for the first time this year.  Then, stepping onto a slick log, I slipped and managed to scrape first one leg and then the other on stubs of branches.  This decorated my legs with the most scrapes that Iíve gotten in years.   So I used some of the rarely-opened items in my first aid kit to patch up the scrapes.  Start thinking in terms of ominous foreshadowing here.

Leg scrapes
Leg scrapes

Then we followed a supposed fishermenís track from the head of Slide Lake to the fork of Otter Creek.  The trail went through a number of very brushy sections, occasionally relieved by patches of snow.  It was especially bad right near the head of the lake, where big tree trunks and brush combined into a nasty maze.

Log overpass through some brush
Log overpass through some brush

At 3600 feet, we turned and took the pathless north fork of the creek toward Tommy Thompson, with more forest cover helping reduce the brush.  There was a very steep section from 4000 to 4300 feet, where the creek fell down a waterfall.  Above that, we reached consistent snow cover, for very easy walking up to the col at 5200 feet.

Waterfall on north fork of Otter Creek
Waterfall on north fork of Otter Creek
Happy to reach open snowy country, with Tommy Thompson summit at upper left.
Happy to reach open snowy country, with Tommy Thompson summit at upper left.

We left our packs at the col and proceeded up the ridge toward TT, staying east of the crest to avoid outcrops.  Our hope was to summit TT and return, then move up 800 feet to the very wide top of Point 6095, for a camp with territorial views.  Note that I said ďhope was,Ē providing more ominous foreshadowing.

The ridge climbed to wider and wider views, with a stunning panaorama of the Cascade Pass & Ptarmigan Traverse peaks developing to the east.  The snow made for great travel on mostly easy terrain up to the base of the summit area.

Mike ascending from the col, with Point 6095 behind
Mike ascending from the col, with Point 6095 behind
Ascending with Whale Lake & Cascade Pass Peaks
Ascending with Whale Lake & Cascade Pass Peaks
Ascending with Whale Lake & Formiddable
Ascending with Whale Lake & Formiddable
Mike & Erin in front of Backbone Ridge
Mike & Erin in front of Backbone Ridge
Looking around the corner to Jordan, Boulder, & Baker
Looking around the corner to Jordan, Boulder, & Baker

Now we needed to traverse below the summit so we could cross its west ridge and ascend on the other side.  A briefly steeper traverse brought us to the ridge crest at the base of the summit block.

TT summit area; our goal is the lefthand corner of the summit block.
TT summit area; our goal is the lefthand corner of the summit block.
Erin & Suzanne heading toward the summit area
Erin & Suzanne heading toward the summit area
Mike & TTís pointy shadow, with Snowking behind; the col where we left packs is at center left.
Mike & TTís pointy shadow, with Snowking behind; the col where we left packs is at center left.
Nearing the base of the summit block under beautiful blue skies
Nearing the base of the summit block under beautiful blue skies
My shadow along the way
My shadow along the way

On the other side of the ridge, the route became more challenging.  We scrambled down off the ridge onto a small snowfield, which led upward to a gully below the summit.  However, the gully was wet and slippery.  Then we traversed further left to a larger snowfield which let us move higher on the peak, and then traverse back right to meet the gully higher up.  From there, a few steep moves on rock led to somewhat better terrain and then the summit.

The steep edge of TTís west ridge
The steep edge of TTís west ridge
Zoom photo of the summit area from lower down
Zoom photo of the summit area from lower down

But thatís not quite how I got there.  I had gone left originally to find the larger snowfield, which was successful, but then I continued further left to look for better access to the summit, which didnít work out.  When I came back to the gully, the others had already gone above.  A protruding block impeded access to the gully, with two possible ways around, either up a steep edge, or across some rocks and dirt beneath.  It turns out they had gone up the steep edge.  But I tried the other way.

Midway across, a large rock pulled loose while I was holding it, and I tumbled down the gully.  The rock and I bounced together downward across patches of rock and snow, and stopped in a moat about 50 feet down.

The gully I fell down, starting just below the big rock at the top, and stopping about five feet below this photo.
The gully I fell down, starting just below the big rock at the top, and stopping about five feet below this photo.
The 18-inch rock that accompanied me down.
1 label
The 18-inch rock that accompanied me down.

So I propped myself up in the moat and took a few minutes to catch my breath.  The drops of blood falling off my forehead made interesting pink spots in the snow at first, but soon became monotonous, so I dug a gauze pad out of my first aid kit and stuck it on my head.  Then I put on the warm coat and parka I had brought despite the warm weather, in case of emergencies.  My ice axe was still parked by the outcrop above, so I didnít want to climb back up the steep snow.  Feeling breathless from the impacts, it was difficult to yell loudly for help.  I started to dig into my pack for my emergency whistle, when Mike came partway down from the summit and called to me.  He brought down my ice axe, so I could climb out.  With Mike's guidance, I climbed the rest of the way up to the summit to join the others.    Thank-you, Mike.  My left side felt pretty sore when I tried to push or pull on anything.

At the summit, there was room to sit down and rest in the sunshine.  The others helped me clean off the cuts on my head and arms.  I learned that I should replace the antiseptic packets in my first aid kit more often, because they were dried out and useless.  However, I did have lots of antibiotic ointment and bandages, which we stuck on various places.  I felt scraped and bruised, but nothing broken, and best of all no headache or other signs of head injury.


Matt at TT summit
Matt at TT summit
Patched up a little better
Patched up a little better

I discovered that my water bottle holster had been torn off along the way.  However, a further check showed that I had escaped damage to the most vital functions Ė my camera was intact and fully operational.

We stayed a while so I could rest, and also take a few photos.  The view included everything from the Pickets down to Dome Peak.  Below us, all the neighborhood lakes were still frozen.

Jordan Lakes
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Jordan Lakes
Boulder Peak & Granite Lake
Boulder Peak & Granite Lake
Looking down at the tops of Points 6095 & 6142, out intended goals for the next day, with Dome Peak behind.
Looking down at the tops of Points 6095 & 6142, out intended goals for the next day, with Dome Peak behind.
Summit Panorama - Teebone Ridge to Dome Peak
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Summit Panorama - Teebone Ridge to Dome Peak
Summit Pan - Snowfield & Chaval
Summit Pan - Snowfield & Chaval

Going back down was awkward, but okay as long as I didnít lean too hard on my left side.

Steep terrain & shadows going back down to the west ridge
Steep terrain & shadows going back down to the west ridge

Once we were back on easier terrain, I pulled off perhaps my most surprising accomplishment of the day.  I actually persuaded the rest of the group to leave me sitting there alone on a rock to watch the sunset, while they descended the remaining thousand feet to make camp.

I found a comfortable bench on the rocks and propped myself up to wait the hour and a quarter till sunset.  Occasionally I would shift around so I could discover new places that felt sore.  While I waited, I slowly ate the rest of my leftover lunch food.  Actually, there wasnít any choice about eating slowly.  If I bit down too hard, my jaw pushed against the bruise on the left side of my head, so I ate my Fritos literally one chip at a time, chewing cautiously.

Anyway, the sunset was worth waiting for.  A haze in the west prevented the really bright alpenglow, but it still lit up some of the peaks nicely.

Alpenglow & Cascade Pass Peaks
Alpenglow & Cascade Pass Peaks
Alpenglow below TT summit
Alpenglow below TT summit
More alpenglow & Cascade Pass Peaks
More alpenglow & Cascade Pass Peaks
Alpenglow & Ptarmigan Traverse peaks
Alpenglow & Ptarmigan Traverse peaks

As the sun dropped near the horizon, the color deepened to rich orange.

Last light nearby
Last light nearby
Last light on Dome Peak
Last light on Dome Peak
Last light on Snowking
Last light on Snowking
Orange-backed Pickets
Orange-backed Pickets

The sun set where Jordan & Boulder stood with Baker behind.

Sun dropping toward Baker
Sun dropping toward Baker
Sunset burning a hole through Boulder
Sunset burning a hole through Boulder

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the colors climbed into the sky above the peaks to provide an especially clear rainbow band of afterglow colors above the shadowed peaks.  If you've never had time to watch an extended sunset from high up, it's really cool how you can see the band of refracted colors move up the mountainsides and then into the sky as the sun goes down, or watch the opposite happen at sunrise.

Afterglow above Dome Peak
Afterglow above Dome Peak
Afterglow above Snowking & Chaval
Afterglow above Snowking & Chaval
Afterglow above Whale Lake
Afterglow above Whale Lake
Afterglow panorama (somewhat grainy)
Afterglow panorama (somewhat grainy)

With the clear sky still light above, I followed the othersí tracks down to camp.  The tents were on snow, but they had set up a kitchen area on dry ground in the trees for dinner.  The stars came out bright overhead and the night stayed warm.

Camp at the col in the morning
Camp at the col in the morning
Breakfast
Breakfast

In the morning, Mike & Erin decided to traverse over the bonus summits and descend via Hamar & Enjar Lakes.  I was glad Mike could have a chance to finish the other P400 summits in the area, and Erin could enjoy the northwest peaks a little longer after her sojourn in California.  Suzanne and I watched them quickly ascend up the flank of Point 6095 before we departed.

Point 6095 from camp, with Mike & Erin somewhere near the top
Point 6095 from camp, with Mike & Erin somewhere near the top

Suzanne stayed to accompany me down our entry route, and was very helpful and supportive the whole way.  Thank you, Suzanne.

We took our time, pausing for discussion of cosmology, spirituality, and sociology.  Hiking down went better than I had feared.  I had to place every step carefully to avoid jarring the sore muscles in my side or back, but I was able to walk okay.  Descending the north fork of the creek, we angled further west of the creek to stay in the woods, which worked better than our ascent near the creek.  Down by the main course of the creek, the brushy areas were still obnoxious, and wickedly hot near the lake.

At the head of the lake, we had an especially refreshing pause watching foam from the creek swirl into the lake and reflected light rippling on the underside of the trees.  Further along the lake, fishermen occupied most of the best access spots.  However, we found one place where fish were swimming in the shade of the trees, so I joined them for a swim.  It felt very good to rinse all the sticky sweat off, and maybe a bit of excess blood.

Fish swimming
Fish swimming
Matt swimming
Matt swimming
A few scrapes
A few scrapes
A few more scrapes
A few more scrapes

Then we hiked the rest of the way out and rested by the car for about an hour till Mike & Erin arrived.  They both reported that the descent via Enjar had included very thick stands of slide alder and salmonberry.  Even so, Erin had barely a scratch on her bare legs.  I think sheís bionic.  Mike reported that the route over intermediate Point 5650 and beyond to Point 6142 had been ďsketchy,Ē which I interpret to mean sections of terrain steep and difficult enough that Iím probably glad I didnít go there anyway.

Altogether, in the end everyone got something out of the trip and came out not too badly damaged.  Iím pretty sure I collected more scrapes and bruises on this one trip than I have in the past five years combined.

Thank you to everyone for your assistance.
I apologize for the delays and making us miss moving to the better camp higher up.
Lesson learned - never slip into assuming that a hold is okay because you think someone else used it.  Also, it's good to have some emergency gear with you, even if it's a nearby summit on a sunny day.

Medical update:
X-Rays showed my rib wasn't cracked.  As of three weeks later, everything is healed except three spots.  I still have a spot on the front of my left ribs that hurts, sometimes sharply, if I move in a way that pulls on it, but it only happens rarely.  I also have a spot on my back that hurts sometime, and the muscles get sore easily.  And I can't open my mouth fully because the left jaw joint hurts where I hit it.  It all seems to be gradually healing.

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ďAs beacons mountains burned at evening.Ē J.R.R. Tolkien
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Dane
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Dane
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 1:54 am 
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Nice TR Matt. Glad you're okay  up.gif

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Without judgement what would we do? We would be forced to look at ourselves...

-Death
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GeoTom
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 5:48 am 
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I am glad you were not injured worse.

And, I am doubly pleased to hear your camera is ok!   hockeygrin.gif

Very nice TR  up.gif

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Tom_Sjolseth
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 5:59 am 
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Matt, I'm glad you made it out OK.  Good on you for continuing on to the summit after all that!

That is one awesome area!  Fantastic sunset photos.  Excellent TR.  This is one area I'd like to get into.
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Scrooge
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 6:09 am 
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Dang, Matt, that's pretty scary. Glad it came out no worse than it looked (which must have scared your companions a little). Beautiful pics, as always. ........ Glad I got the A720. (Thanks). It even makes the Big Four blowdowns look good!

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Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you....... Go and find it. Go!
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Magellan
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 6:14 am 
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I'm glad you are OK Matt.   eek.gif   Tough old goat!
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Backpacker Joe
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 6:45 am 
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Glad to see you made it alright Matt. Krazie Klimbers. hockeygrin.gif

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

ó Abraham Lincoln
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Don
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 7:10 am 
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Matt, glad you are ok!  Very interesting to see perspective from a new area.  On top of your sunset images, I particularly like the pano you made showing the Ptarmigan traverse peaks.  Very cool vantage!

Now you've got me thinking I should probably update my first aid kit too.  Ok, not probably - it needs to happen!
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Flower Sniffer
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 7:11 am 
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Great trip report, Matt!  I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through it!  Beautiful pictures of a spectacular area.  Glad you're okay.

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If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
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wildernessed
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 7:34 am 
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As usual great TR and pics from your experience. Get well soon ! slobber.gif  whaambulance.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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Living in the Anthropocene
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Tazz
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 7:39 am 
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darnit matt you are so close to the top 100 don't kill yourself now!!!   winksmile.gif   So glad you are alright!!!!!  good stuff as usual.
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Andy D.
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 8:05 am 
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Geez, glad you are okay! Great pictures and report  up.gif
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Hiker Mama
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 8:05 am 
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Dude!  That is quite the story!  And here I thought YOU were the bionic one!  But I'm glad you came out of there OK.
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moosefish
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moosefish
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 8:06 am 
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I'm always impressed when the most accomplished of hikers make wise choices like returning the way you came in rather than pushing on for more peaks. It shows a lot of character and wisdom.

I gotta ask, though... where's the tea shot?
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wamtngal
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PostWed Jul 02, 2008 8:19 am 
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Glad to hear that beside some scrapes and scratches, you are okay! Love the sunset pics -- definitely worth waiting up there for them.  up.gif  up.gif

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Opinions expressed here are my own.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Falling on Tommy Thompson, 6/28 - 6/29/08
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