What a day to be out in the mountains! I threw out the idea for Palmer and was happy to have so many bites. Randy, Cartman, Donb and Justus were all in and we made quick work of this peak, given the circumstances.
First bit of advise, donít waste the time checking out the approach from Index Creek Rd. Our efforts here were stymied by multiple private driveways and the access road (6031) being closed from the get go. This left us with the other (Money Creek) side of 6031 which was rumored to be in horrible shape. Not to worry. You canít drive it at all. We parked on the SW side of the railroad tracks on the Money Creek Rd. After loading Justus and Cartman into my truck, we drove about 50 yards, turned around, and parked. The road was immediately covered with at least a foot of cascade crud. We now had 2.5 miles of road walking to look forward to. Mind you, none of the 2.5 miles is spent gaining the 4200í youíll need to nab this peak. No, that is all saved for the last 2 miles to the summit. Enjoy!
So, the road was nicely frozen for awhile, but painfully boring in itís meanderings. Plenty of annoying branches and such. Plenty of time to ponder what drives us to do these things. We strapped on snowshoes after the snowmobile tracks veered off onto a side road. Justus had a keen eye for the crossing of Lowe Creek, which has no bridge and requires an easy crossing on river rocks. After the crossing began our uphill work on the E ridge of Palmer. We chose to hop on the ridge directly from here in order to avoid up to 3 more miles of road walking. Instead, we did 1 mile of ridge climbing. We passed over several roads, with only one of them being shown on the map. Around 2600í we came to the quarry road and figured we must be between the two quarries shown on the map. We jogged right (N) until coming to the Northern quarry and the end of the road. Donít worry, you canít miss it. From what I have heard it was a limestone quarry and it is probably the biggest one I have seen off a forest road. At one time this looks to have been quite an operation.
From the N side of this feature, we again gained the E ridge and continued following it up. Conditions improved here, going from crappy second growth to more open timber. We only ran into about two obstacles which required traversing on the right (N) side of the ridge. They were both easy but also both had steep run outs that prompted some of us to remove snowshoes. Other than that, we stayed on the ridgetop for the most part.
The ridge became more and more open the higher we got. It seemed to go on forever but we had a lot of trail breaking muscle behind this effort so I donít think anyone suffered too much. Views of the summit were all but non-existent until we came out of a stand of trees around the 4600í level. Woah! Palmer looked much more formidable than I had ever imagined it.
At the base of the small knoll just E of the summit, we probed the layers and did a shear test before venturing out onto the open slopes. The rocky and snowy summit was not looking very friendly from our vantage so we traversed the open slopes under the summit block to itís SW side where we found a nice snowy gully to kick steps up. This worked quite well and we were all enjoying the views in no time. Most notable for me were Frozen and Crosby Mtns.
The prominently-challenged debated whether or not this, or the peak to the NW was the true summit. They went over and climbed it just to be sure. I was happy with the Palmer as indicated on maps, the cooler looking one, and also more interested in lunch than tagging another peak.
The descent was uneventful, and the road walk out, was, wellÖÖÖ.. joyful.
Not to mention the INSANELY long traffic backup on Hwy 2. This may have been the most painful part of our journey.
I agree Matt. Being as Palmer seems to be hard to see from US-2 it turned out to be a little more exciting that I had anticipated. But as Cartman mentioned, it's all a front and the backside of the peak is much more agreeable.
Wildernessed; Yep, Justus was definitely a key player in punching a trail up this thing. I remember when I used to be a Justus
Type E, it was a killer trip. I thought you were coming along?
Anyway, thanks to all involved for coming out. Best trip of '08 so far!
It's funny how with all those camera freaks on this trip there are no pictures of the first 2000' of climbing! Wonder why.
The drive back was just fine for me as I was dozing in the rear seat with the heat on and Pink Floyd playing. Thanks Beave for the driving but man, almost 3 hours from Zekes to my home in North Seattle. Rough.
don b...that must have been Sunday's traffic! 3 hours in the back seat?! I keep trying to come up with a way to advise the State how to "fix" the traffic problem...the only answer seems to be either a new road around Sultan or moving Sultan off Hy 2. I do not think anyone will ever take down the three traffic signals that snarl traffic, often back to Index junction. You would think the State and assertive environmentalists would press for a solution...who knows how big a carbon footprint is blasted out of each and every vehicle on that jammed up stretch of Federal highway!
Of the photos....Terrific! What a neat place to "discover"! Thanks for the TR!
Type E, it was a killer trip. I thought you were coming along?
Someone would have had to let me know the details! In the future let me know I can always leave the dogs at home. I would have loved to do Palmer with someone else instead of solo as is my usual method. It sure was a great day to be out.
Justus S, Beave and all, what a great trip! I would guess it would be difficult to duplicate in the summer through brush, slide alder and maple and other obstacles. There ought to be a good trail to gain such an impressive vantage point!
Nevertheless, these two photo sets of the snow adventure is a reward for you and a lucky chance to see for the rest of us! Many thanks!
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