Forum Index > Trip Reports > Azurite  8/15-17/08
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cartman
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cartman
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 10:06 am 
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I threatened to write a trip report on this, so I'm making good on it.

Matt may post pics to this report.   Which might salvage it.   Or he might not.   Which might be a mercy.  He might even post his own trip report.  Then you'd get to read about this twice.

Twenty-five miles and three days.  For this.  Oy.

If it weren't one of the hundred highest,  there would be no compelling reason to do this peak.  Long drive, long boring trail with no decent views through burn and brush, an uninteresting camp, then up dull meadows to plenty of loose junk.  If it has one redeeming quality it is that you're able to take trail fairly high before having to climb across, up and through the choss.   And you don't need a rope and gear if your route-finding is on--but we hauled it up anyway, not knowing for sure if we would need it.

Even the key cairn marking the trail up to Azurite Pass is overgrown with brush.  And it's a big cairn.

Matt and I started from the TH on bikes, which Klenke said was a "great bike trail" the ten miles all the way to camp.  Problem was, he did it five years ago before the burn.  The first 2.7 miles to Trout Creek are OK for mtn bikes, where Matt waved the white flag and stashed the bike--apparently Matt had never ridden a mountain bike before, let alone on a trail.   I gamely continued on my bike, where for the next mile the trail was actually in the best condition for biking.  Then the fireweed and this waxy-leafed shrub began to encroach on the trail.   There would be patches, then clearing.  The shrubberage would get in the spokes, catch on the bike bags, on the handlebars...finally the trail was entirely lined on both sides with shrubberage and I gave up and stashed the bike about 4.5 miles in.

We continued through the hedgerows where you could usually see your feet another 2.5 miles until the trail, which until now had gone continuously west, started to switchback uphill then west again towards the Brush Creek junction with the PCT.  Now on the PCT, we continued the last two miles to the horsecamp which has a strategic way trail on the left in a clearing leading downhill ~80' to it.   Matt was wondering where the strategic cairn marking the trail up to Azurite Pass was, so he backtracked through a wooded stretch to the previous clearing and found the cairn on the S side of the trail hidden in the brush, with the trail on the N side leading up.  This would be our start for the morning.

Next day dawned clear and warm.  We hit the trail up to Azurite Pass, noting the numerous side paths lower down which lead off to who knows where.  The main, no longer maintained, trail leads uphill via switchbacks to the right of a creek bed, then takes a long jag to the left across this bed and to the next creek ("Jet Creek").  Get water at the crossing at 5800' as this is the last water source.

Up to Azurite Pass at 6800', not a bad little place to take a break.  This may be the highlight of the trip.  It may be the only highlight of the trip.  This is the point where we remind ourselves that what we're doing is recreation.  From here on the terrain is all off-trail.  First up the ridge to the right and around to the left of the little cliffy bit, then up easy walking slope to 7400'.   So far we've avoided the choss and are only 1000' vertical from the summit--this isn't so bad.  Yet.  At least we can see our feet.  But now the route-finding begins.  Mostly it's traversing across slopes of scree and talus through strategically placed notches in the minor rock ribs to hit the right major gully (which is before the major rib).  Descriptive, eh?

This major gully will lead us to the key gully to the summit.  The gullies are full of talus, but have lots of holds on the walls for the hands to compensate for the lack of holds on the ground for the feet.  Staying close so as to minimize suddenly introducing rocks to each other, we make quick work of the first gully; the entrance to the key gully is above and slightly left, and this leads (with a fun 30' stemming section) to near the summit block where a bit more class 3 leads to the quite buggy summit.  So we get to share the views with the ants, flies, and ladybugs.  More joy.

We were the first to sign in this year.  This peak sees only 1-2 parties per year; almost all are pursuing the Top 100.  The signees seemed to include an inordinate number of parties with people who are related to each other (Sjolseths, Gronaus etc.), undoubtedly due to the fact that no one else will actually go on this Magical Mystery Tour with them.

Careful downclimbing of the route got us out of the gullies and back to the traverse, and eventually back to camp.  Be sure to bring 2-3 liters of water from the creek up, it is a hot and dry route.


Eric J. Johnson
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Yana
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 11:25 am 
Re: Azurite Peak  8/15-17/08
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lol.gif  ykm.gif  rotf.gif

A TR very much worth reading even without photos (though I certainly look forward to those, should they ever arrive).

I especially appreciated the following:

cartman wrote:
At least we can see our feet. 

cartman wrote:

The gullies are full of talus, but have lots of holds on the walls for the hands to compensate for the lack of holds on the ground for the feet. 

cartman wrote:

The signees seemed to include an inordinate number of parties with people who are related to each other (Sjolseths, Gronaus etc.), undoubtedly due to the fact that no one else will actually go on this Magical Mystery Tour with them.


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PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
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BeyondLost
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 11:53 am 
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You should have asked me about biking the West Fork Methow trail before you started.  hockeygrin.gif I was through there a couple of weeks before you and, believe it or not, did quite a bit of brushing. Prior to that you could hardly find the trail in a bunch of areas.  lol.gif
I pushed a big black bear out of that fire weed in one spot also.

Nice of you guys to drop by and say hi on the way out. I was ready for a break right about then.  agree.gif  I'm not always covered in sawdust.  clown.gif
Next time by let me know you are going to be in the area and we can offer a bit more BeyondLost hospitality.
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dicey
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dicey
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 11:58 am 
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Nice writeup Cartman.

Where did the poll go?

edit to add:

Who wants to go climb Azurite this weekend?! biggrin.gif  wink.gif

--------------
I'm not always sure I like being older but being less stupid has advantages.
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Matt
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 12:12 pm 
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Very entertaining writing, cartman.
Actually, though, it wasn't that bad.  The route was actually easier than expected at every stage.  Much of the hiking was unpleasant, but that's partly our own fault, for choosing the hottest weekend of the year to hike a hot, dry route.
And, yeah, what happened to the poll?
Actually, I took fewer pictures on this trip than any other trip this year, only 86.
More later.  Right now I have some kind of flu, so I'm going back to bed.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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wildernessed
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 1:10 pm 
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Nice TR, makes me want to start packing. hmmm.gif  hockeygrin.gif

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Living in the Anthropocene
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cartman
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cartman
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 1:39 pm 
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dicey wrote:


Where did the poll go?

Apparently weird things happen when you edit a post that has a poll attached to it.  First it disappeared, then when I redid it and submitted it reappeared with the redo, so now each option appears twice.  And now I can't see the poll when I go to edit it.  Weird.


BeyondLost, good to see you there at the homestead.  Thanks for brushing out the trail, probably allowed me to bike further than I otherwise would have been able.   But shame on you for picking on the poor helpless bear.


Wildernessed, pack away!  dicey wants to go.
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dicey
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 2:01 pm 
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Yay, the poll is back (in a weird way)!

I'm going to hold off on voting until I actually see the pictures biggrin.gif

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I'm not always sure I like being older but being less stupid has advantages.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32121172@N00/sets/
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wamtngal
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 3:02 pm 
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Great report -- and with a poll! Felt like I was almost there, which then made me wonder if I actually wanted to feel like I was almost there.

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mntsun
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 3:38 pm 
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Ok, how crazy would I have been to repeat this one, eh?

Great writeup.  If you miss the special notch you can try to find the correct gulley nearly completely circumnavigating the mountain.  There are a lot of gulleys on the other side.  Not saying that is what happened to us, just sayin' your routefinding was awesome!
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Roald
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 3:39 pm 
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Cartman - Great TR!  Congratulations, too!

Here is my favorite line:

"This is the point where we remind ourselves that what we're doing is recreation."   lol.gif
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loper
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 7:45 pm 
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Thanks for the trip report!  Now I really have to go experience this peak for myself.  biggrin.gif
Just curious though.  Why didn't you go from Hart's Pass and hike in?  It can't?? be worse than what you two survived on the bikes!
L
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Matt
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Matt
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 8:15 pm 
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loper wrote:
Thanks for the trip report!  Now I really have to go experience this peak for myself.  biggrin.gif
Just curious though.  Why didn't you go from Hart's Pass and hike in?  It can't?? be worse than what you two survived on the bikes!
L

  • West Fork Methow = 10 miles, 1500 gain.  Most of it isn't actually all that brushy.  Plus the bikes worked fairly well, and it's downhill going out.
  • PCT from Meadow CG near Hart's Pass = 12.7 miles, 1000 gain , 3000 loss.  It goes up and down over several passes.  More scenic, but it would mean gaining 3000 feet uphill on the way out.
If you could get a ride between the trailheads, the best option would be to take the PCT from Hart's Pass going in, and West Fork Methow going out.

We also needed to use the shortest approach, because I couldn't leave town till I finished getting my son to a dental appointment in preparation for a root canal operation that he needed.  So we didn't actually get on the trail till 2:30pm.

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Tom_Sjolseth
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PostWed Aug 20, 2008 8:32 pm 
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Nice, you two!  A chossy pile, it is, but in such a great position!  I voted for option A.

cartman wrote:
The signees seemed to include an inordinate number of parties with people who are related to each other (Sjolseths, Gronaus etc.), undoubtedly due to the fact that no one else will actually go on this Magical Mystery Tour with them.

I do have to clarify that we were actually able to persuade another party to join us on our outing.  Ed Leibert followed us on our dry, dusty quest for glory that fateful September.   hockeygrin.gif
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b00
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PostThu Aug 21, 2008 9:45 am 
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what a difference between your experience and ours.  we really had a wonderful adventure and enjoyed the trip.   i don't remember the brush on the 8 miles we biked - maybe it grew a lot in two years.  but i do remember the fun and exhilaration with the route finding.  from camp on, we never knew what would be next and it was so cool to find each landmark and gully.    it was like a treasure hunt, a great puzzle or a mystery novel, every few minutes was an "a-ha" moment.   we smiled a lot.  sorry it did not work that way for you.  hopefully you will enjoy your next summit.  good luck.
:>)
ps - i agreed with tom and voted option a
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