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NikonHiker
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PostTue Aug 05, 2008 10:24 pm 
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Some people want to conquer the Bakers and the Rainiers of the world.  I've wanted to conquer Finney Peak.  In fact it's practically been calling to me.  Every time I drove by on the Finney Creek Road below or headed up to the top of Gee Point there it sat across the valley, waiting.  So as promised several weeks ago this last Sunday myself, Andy, Marc and Clancey all took to the mountain.


We crammed all four of us and all of our gear into my pick-up truck and headed for the trail head.  Evidently I've pulled the 'driven-up-too-many-brushy-roads-already' short straw so my vehicle was perfect for the job.  FS1735 has had an explosion of brush in just the last year alone and is in desperate need of a visit from a brush cutter.  While we couldn't do much about that we did engage in a little road maintenance before getting underway.  The road is blocked about a quarter of a mile before the trailhead by a strategically placed boulder and a succession of logs dropped via avalanche from the hillside above.  While we didn't have any chainsaws we did have the manpower to roll the rock out of the road and thereby ensure that future hikers could drive a good 30 feet further up the road to the first log.


Our planned route (in red) was a deviation from the route I had taken in the past.  On previous trips I had gone the long way.  Which was to wade/fight through the alders on the road for about two miles as it traversed the ridgeline to the north.  Eventually the road would hair-pin back to the south and run for just under another mile ultimately jogging around a small ridgeline and dead-ending at the old growth tree line.  In retrospect that way is seriously un-fun.  It's long.  It's choked with seemingly always dew laden alders.  In one section they not only trenched the road multiple times but they also backfilled the road bed for about a quarter mile so it would more or less match the original slope of the mountain.  It's tough on the ankles after a while.  However on this trip we decided on a more direct route.  We would follow the road for only about a mile and then hang a u-turn on a spur road and brushwhack our way from the spur into the bottom of the huge talus field directly below the summit.

We didn't have a precise spot where we needed to leave the spur road.  As it happens Andy spotted a gully that looked like a decent enough path to follow so we jumped on that opportunity.  Turns out it was an opportunity to perform some sort of self-winching style jungle-gym crawling/climbing/waterless-swimming action through the scrub trees for about the next 35 minutes as we worked our way towards the old growth tree line and the talus field beyond.  I have to wonder if there would have been an easier path had we gone further up the spur road but surely someone else can figure that one out.


Our brushwhack course loosely mirrored that of a small stream running in a trench off to our left.  That stream seemed to also be the dividing line between the old clearcut we were fighting through and the oldgrowth patch to the north.  Eventually we crossed the stream into the old growth and the going became much easier.  A few minutes after that we broke out into the bottom of the talus field.


After a short break we pressed on and began climbing rapidly.  The farther up the mountain you go the steeper it gets but the rocks appeared fairly stable and made for an easy hike.  About halfway up the field Andy spotted a bear a few hundred yards further up the mountain.   As soon as he sounded off the bear ran across a snow patch up into a slide chute and disappeared behind a rock outcropping.  He wasn't where we needed to go and that was fine with us.  On we went to the top of the field.


At the very top of the talus field there is a vertical rock wall.  Just below the rock wall is the old trail and that's where we decided to take a break for a few minutes.  At this point we were about three-quarters of the way to the summit.  Now comes the real fun.  Just behind where we were sitting the trail used to switchback up through a very steep and narrow slide chute.  Today, the trail makes one or two switchbacks and then completely disappears.  At which point the hike turns into a little bit of a sketchy root grabbing, tree trunk hugging full body scramble up through this chute to the top of the ridgeline.  Suffice it to say getting through this section was very tedious, time consuming and required being absolutely deliberate.  Of course that was just for me.  The rest of the crew ahead of me practically strolled up the thing.

Once at the top of the chute we found the trail again.  For not having been maintained for the better part of 40 years it was in decent enough shape and we easily followed it to the summit.


Once on top the trail register was found and signed.  The survery markers were themselves surveyed.  And sandwiches were consumed.


We couldn't help but appreciate the few hundred foot cliff on the northwest corner.

Then it was time for some point spotting and panoramas.


Big Deer Peak.


Gee Point cut-off from easy access by that vicious slide.


To the north with some Baker action.

Sweet panoramas:




After hanging out for while we replaced the summit register, restacked the cairn and started down.  The last little hitch was making it back down the slide chute in one piece.  Our secret weapon was a 50 meter rope that Andy brought along.  He slung it to a tree and the trip down down took all of about 5 minutes per stretch.  We had to re-sling in the middle which means the slide chute was about 75 meters tall.  I have to note that the rope was not necessary for the rest of the guys.  The slide chute up and down is reasonably managed if you're careful and sure footed but might be beyond the comfort level of some.  Either way I was very appreciative that we had the rope.


For our route back we opted to follow the trail into the old growth.  It's in rough shape going across this slide field.


Unlike in this shot from 1935 where it's clear and crisp and casts it's own shadow.  Time was not good to that section.  However once in the trees it fades in and out and is more easily followed by looking for the telephone line on the ground.


Our friend from earlier had been busy. Several dozen trees were torn asunder.


The walk under the old growth was pleasant.  We followed the trail for about a hundred yards before we broke to the west and began rapidly descending.  Andy's GPS placed us right on course to come out of the trees at the dead end just up from the large rock outcropping.  Which of course someone had to climb.


Once at the outcropping we had to decide on a route back to the lower road.  We could either go the long way in reverse as described earlier or we could go down the creek bed and cut about a mile off our trip.  We opted for the creek bed.  I'd gone that way before and it's easily negotiated.  The rest of the hike was uneventful and done to the music of one of those newfangled cellphone-mp3 players.

I guess that was an awful lot post-wise for a peak that gets few visitors and isn't exactly special? spectacular? Though that's my guess for other people.  It's been on my to-do list for a long time and I liked it  In fact having been to almost every other prominent point in the logger's island the view from Finney Peak is by far the most dramatic.  That said, I'd like to see it get more traffic and it would not take much to get it back into shape.  FS1735 up to where it was decommissioned doesn't appear to have suffered any washouts or slides in recent history.  The alders slowly leaning into the roadway seem to be the most immediate threat.  As for routes one could easily be cleared through the lower section that we fought through and certainly someone who knows how to get the job done right could probably whip that slide chute back into shape.  Of course I won't hold my breath for either of those things to ever happen but it's nice to think about.  (Though, if it were to happen I'd gladly play equipment hauling flunky for a day or two.)  On the plus side it doesn't appear to me that access to the summit is on the verge of being irreversibly lost in either the immedate or even distant future.

Good times.
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Layback
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Joined: 16 Mar 2007
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Layback
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PostTue Aug 05, 2008 11:24 pm 
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Nice job.   up.gif   Finney can be a PITA.
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Quark
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Quark
Niece of Alvy Moore
PostTue Aug 05, 2008 11:40 pm 
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What a great treat to read about this! I've wanted to do this peak for quite some time.  I had heard about the old growth up there and was interested in it;  as well as the old trail.

I tried to get to Gee Pt on Saturday;  the FS said the road was washed out 2.1 miles from the trailhead, so I figured what the hell, that's not a big deal.  I was surprised to see the washout very soon after turning onto the 1722 road.  According to the guidebook, I had to drive 5.4 miles to the trailhead.  Not knowing if I had 2.1 miles to walk, or 5, I turned around and hit another trail.  Turning around wasn't easy.

That old trail was part of a large trail system;  you could go a loooong way on that trail at one time.

The FS is researching ways to facilitate forest succession in the Finney block to attain old growth a little easier than nature would.  Logging interrupted nature, as we know, so they're trying to help it along without disturbing the balance of neighboring cohorts and habitat.  Interesting stuff.

Thanks for the report;  I will use it heavily this fall when I head up there.

I'd like to take my bike and get Gee Point on Saturday. Looking for partners.

--------------
"...Other than that, the post was more or less accurate."

Bernardo, NW Hikers' Bureau Chief of Reporting
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Andy D.
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PostWed Aug 06, 2008 12:42 pm 
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That was quite an epic little adventure for such a small peak. It was neat finding the old trail and lookout site. Surprising that not too many people climb this one...we were the only ones from 2008. There was one from 2007, one from 2005 and a handful from 2003-4. It has awesome views, especially of Whitehorse & Baker. Did you get a good shot of Whitehorse? This was the only one I got.
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Eenk!
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PostWed Aug 06, 2008 8:41 pm 
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Lenny wrote:
Our planned route (in red) was a deviation from the route I had taken in the past.  On previous trips I had gone the long way.  Which was to wade/fight through the alders on the road for about two miles as it traversed the ridgeline to the north...However on this trip we decided on a more direct route...

Looks like thinking outside the box and going with a different route paid off.  Sometimes that's not the case.

Doing relatively unknown peaks like Finney is cool.  up.gif  Bagging popular peaks everybody knows about is booorrrinngg.

Your pics have nice, rich color.
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NikonHiker
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NikonHiker
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PostThu Aug 07, 2008 9:33 am 
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cdrbond007 wrote:
That was quite an epic little adventure for such a small peak. It was neat finding the old trail and lookout site. Surprising that not too many people climb this one...we were the only ones from 2008. There was one from 2007, one from 2005 and a handful from 2003-4. It has awesome views, especially of Whitehorse & Baker. Did you get a good shot of Whitehorse? This was the only one I got.

I got some shots of Whitehorse but none that were really cool.  The lighting just wasn't right.  I'll throw you a bone though.  Remember that point I pointed out down on Segelsen Ridge? Here's a shot from there.

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