Linked up with Dobson through my partner post for a trip to The Brothers. Good company and a good trip to the top on Saturday.
We got to the trailhead early evening on Friday and camped at Lena Lake. Up early Saturday morning on the trail through the Valley of Silent Men towards to the climber camp at Lena Forks. About ¾ of the way there we started to run into snow. As we cruised along, the boot path became really faint and with all the snow it obscured the fork in the river such that we went right by it. Had a feeling we might have passed it so we crossed the creek, bushwacked around, went back across the creek, further up the valley. With all that lingering snow and no obvious boot tracks the place looked a lot different than it did last year when it was snow free at this level. So after a frustrating hour and a half we crossed back over and finally found the right path at the forks marked by a little flagging tape.
As we’re following the flag tape, it became more of a bushwhack than trail compared to what I remembered. We doggedly followed the flagging though, no more getting off track. We squeezed around trees, scrambled over blowdowns and plowed through brush. Eventually came out to the clearing that leads to the burn, and finally got on to the start of the snow chute.
So onward and upward.
We booted it for a good portion then switched to crampons and ice axes. Was easy to keep on track from here on out. Lots of snow in the chutes. A few rocks starting to show but everything looked very solid. Clouds were building which provided a little cooling, but had us wondering if our view were going to be shut down.
No one had been up there in a while so we were kicking steps the whole way which was tough on top of all the time and energy spent earlier bushwhacking.
After several hours I was to starting to get a bit weary and was running at a slower pace. While we took turns kicking those steps, Phil did more than his fair share. Thanks, Phil…! Eventually we reached the rock scramble. Phil does a lot of rock climbing so he scooted right up.
He had his camera out and took a pic of me hauling myself up the last bit to the summit. It was great to finally make the top. The clouds were broken enough to provide good views into the Olympics to the west and south.
When I was up there last year it was completely socked in with clouds so I wasn’t going to complain.
A good bit of butt glissading got us down in short order. A lot easier than heading up. The snow was really beginning to soften which made for very wet backsides. On the way down I noticed one spot where the snow is starting to open a bit. Interestingly an older butt glissade mark goes right over it. So keep an eye out for that and other spots if headed up there anytime soon. After crossing the burn and the clearing we came upon the regular climbers trail down to the camp at the forks, not the flagged route we used to come up. No flag tape on this trail but it was easy to follow and a whole lot easier going than the terrain we negotiated coming up. This is what I remembered from last year. We figured the flag tape we followed on the way up must be a winter route somebody flagged when there was more snow covering the brush. If you go up there look for climbers trail out of the Lena Forks camp.
It was late afternoon by the time we were passing through the upper camp area but no one was there yet. Along the Valley of the Silent Men we came upon a number of different groups headed up to the Lena Forks, though. Must have been a close to a couple dozen people in all. We continued down to Lena, packed up our stuff and down to the car.
Looking across the Sound the next day on Sunday towards The Brothers it was solid clouds so I hope those folks we saw made it up and had some good views. The snow should be in good shape for the coming weeks if contemplating a trip up to The Brothers.
Thanks for joining me, Phil. Sorry it ended up being a bit longer than planned, but a good day nonetheless.
This photo is amazing! Thanks for the great TR we've had the Brothers on our list for a long time and will use your info ~ Jo
I was also amazed when I saw this becuase I have this exact same photo (well, almost) in my own collection taken exactly 6 years ago. It's a really interesting spot along the trail that immediately jumps out at anyone with an eye for photography. Nice work!
I've been at this for 10 years now and Brothers is the hardest overall climb I've ever done. From 600' to 6000'+ in one day. Extremely steep snow - like almost 2-tool terrain. Bushwhacking. Routefinding. You've got to be prepared for this one. Good job!
Fyi I say Brothers is the hardest overall. A close second would be Kyes Peak. OMG that was hard. And the hardest single stretch of climbing I've ever done was the Roman Wall on Mount Baker's Coleman Glacier route. I was so exhausted that I was hallucinating skull&crossbones in patterns in the snow.
If you've ever looked west from Seattle out to the Olympics you've surely noticed this distinct double-summitted mountain:
This report was for the south peak, higher of the two summits (at left in the picture).
I forget which brothers the mountain was named after, but I hear the brothers also have two sisters with peaks named after them: Mt. Constance, the tallest mountain in the Olympics visible from Seattle, and Mt. Ellinor, the peak furthest south visible from Seattle.
-------------- Without judgement what would we do? We would be forced to look at ourselves...
They were named for the Fauntleroy brothers, Edward and Arthur. And yes, we just climbed the South (taller and easier), summit. The traverse between the two is actually a relatively difficult undertaking.
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