Forum Index > Trip Reports > 2008: A Persis-Index Odyssey.  “My God, It’s full of tarns!”
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4046 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 2:46 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Dates: October 25-26, 2008
Destination:  Persis 5464, Persindex 5360, Index 5979
Party:  Matt, Dicey, Yana


2008: A Persis-Index Odyssey.  “My God, It’s full of tarns!”

Our odyssey traversed the ridge running from Persis to Persindex to Index, and back again.

The Persis-Index Odyssey - from Persis at lower left, to Persindex at far right, and onward to Index at upper left.
2 labels
The Persis-Index Odyssey - from Persis at lower left, to Persindex at far right, and onward to Index at upper left.
Persindex Basin, "My God, It's Full of Tarns."
17 labels
Persindex Basin, "My God, It's Full of Tarns."

The basin at the Persindex Col has the highest density of alpine tarns that I’ve seen anywhere.  At least 13 distinct tarns within one tenth of a mile, plus myriad smaller pools and streams.  Surrounded by sweeping granite slabs and high promontories.  Framed by steep rock cliffs.  Opening to wide views stretching from Cascade crest heights to Puget Sound lowlands.

All of which raises a difficult question: Should this be one of the secret places, left unreported so that it won’t be despoiled by over-use?  Personally, I believe special places are best honored when they are respectfully visited and enjoyed, not left hidden and empty.  I don't want over-use, but I think beautiful places can be preserved by a combination of difficult access and an encouragement to self-discipline, which promotes respect for the place.  So here are my three caveats for this report:
  1. The route is difficult.  It includes third-class scrambling on steep terrain, with dense tree limbs to crawl through, large boulders to climb over, and cross-country navigation.  If you don’t turn at the right places, you will get cliffed out.
  2. The place is worthy of respect.  If you go through the effort to get there, make it worthwhile by treating the area carefully.  Camp away from the tarns, and stay on rock where possible.  Fortunately, the ground immediately adjacent to the tarns is rocky anyway, which discourages camping and reduces impact.
  3. I won’t put specific route info to Persindex basin in the trip report.  If you want to know more, pm me, and we’ll discuss it.

Saturday

Persis

The “trail” to Persis was its usual mess, a steep track up through clearcuts, with misty clouds making the dirt slippery and the brush wet.  The two tarns below Persis were mostly frozen, but beginning to emerge from the clouds.

Sunburst through fog on Persis trail
Sunburst through fog on Persis trail
Persis Lower Tarn sunlit
Persis Lower Tarn sunlit
Persis Upper Tarn
Persis Upper Tarn
Persis Upper Tarn from above
Persis Upper Tarn from above

Looking down from the summit, the Skykomish valley was bright yellow-orange amid the darker peaks.  As Dicey phrased it, “It looks Halloweeny.”

West Wall of Index veiled in clouds
West Wall of Index veiled in clouds
Halloweeny
Halloweeny
Skykomish Valley from Persis
Skykomish Valley from Persis

Traverse from Persis to Persindex

Next we traveled from Persis to the Persindex Col.  The big boulder field made Dicey cry (after one of the big rocks failed to move out of the way of her head.)  The ridge had impressively steep cliff faces.  A tarn in the final gully was completely iced over.

The ridge between Persis & Persindex
The ridge between Persis & Persindex
The boulder field that made Dicey cry
The boulder field that made Dicey cry
Standing in a frozen tarn
Standing in a frozen tarn
Ice droplet
Ice droplet

Persindex Col & Tarns

At Persindex Col, 5200, we found a wonderland of benches and tarns, which the recent weather had decorated in snow and ice.

Northwest Col & Central Basin tarns, from Camp Promontory (labeled)
11 labels
Northwest Col & Central Basin tarns, from Camp Promontory (labeled)
Central Basin, Southwest Knoll, and Western Annex tarns (labeled)
17 labels
Central Basin, Southwest Knoll, and Western Annex tarns (labeled)

To keep track of it all, I made up groups and names for some of the tarns & features that I found particularly remarkable:
  • The Northwest Col – three small tarns near the crest of the col, including:
    • View Tarn – a semi-triangular tarn at the highest point, with views to nearby peaks.
    • Dicey’s Tarn – northernmost tarn, nearest the cliffs.
  • The Central Basin – two large tarns, two smaller tarns, plus several streams and smaller pools, including:
    • Central Tarn – a larger diamond-shaped tarn, directly below Persindex.
    • Tributary Tarns – two tarns upstream from Central Tarn, the closest of which is
      • Flowing Tarn – a shallow narrow tarn with an open lead of water that melted during the days and froze at night.
    • Lower Tarn – a round tarn further south, below a rock step.
  • The Southwest Knoll – four small tarns on a tree-edged knoll southwest of the Central Basin.
  • The Western Annex - a large tarn and one or more smaller tarns, on a lower shelf around a corner from the rest of the basin.  I didn’t even find these till the next day.
  • Camp Promontory – a rocky promontory stretching west above the Central Basin, with broad flat-topped terraces, steep cliff edges, and little puddles cupped in the rocks.
Northwest Col tarns (two nearby, and a third hiding near the orange dot of Dicey)
Northwest Col tarns (two nearby, and a third hiding near the orange dot of Dicey)
View Tarn & Persis
View Tarn & Persis
View Tarn & Persindex
View Tarn & Persindex
Central Tarn & Point 5308
Central Tarn & Point 5308

Persindex

We made a quick run up Persindex.  Lucky we dropped our packs first, because we could barely squeeze through as we twisted and climbed between tree limbs against steep rocks.

Ascending Persindex
Ascending Persindex
Matt on Persindex summit
Matt on Persindex summit
Dicey & Yana on Persindex summit
Dicey & Yana on Persindex summit
Looking down Anderson Creek
Looking down Anderson Creek

Evening at Persindex Tarns

As we descended from Persindex, evening light caught the tarns.

Dicey’s Tarn & Persis
Dicey’s Tarn & Persis
Central, Lower, & Flowing tarns, plus some neighbors
Central, Lower, & Flowing tarns, plus some neighbors
Tributary Tarns & Southwest Knoll tarns
Tributary Tarns & Southwest Knoll tarns

Before returning to camp, I wandered among the tarns, admiring the shadows and reflections on the ice.

My shadow on Dicey’s tarn
My shadow on Dicey’s tarn
Peaks beyond the outlet of the Central Tarn
Peaks beyond the outlet of the Central Tarn
Reflection on an open lead in Flowing Tarn
Reflection on an open lead in Flowing Tarn
Central Tarn & Tributary Tarns, from a viewpoint halfway up to camp
Central Tarn & Tributary Tarns, from a viewpoint halfway up to camp

Persindex Camp

Our camp was on the wide flat-topped promontory west of the tarns, with territorial views stretching from mountains eastward to sound westward.  As the evening darkened, it was odd to be able to sit on a high rocky campsite and look out to distant archipelagos of city lights.

Evening light on Persis
Evening light on Persis
Water
Water
Dining Room
Dining Room
Dinner
Dinner
Layered Peaks & Clouds
Layered Peaks & Clouds
Sunset
Sunset
Night Lights
Night Lights

Sunday

Morning brought orange skies above a clear mountain horizon.

The Mother Ship has landed – Yana’s many-reflectored tent
The Mother Ship has landed – Yana’s many-reflectored tent
Morning at camp
Morning at camp

Morning at Persindex Tarns

Before breakfast, I went wandering among the tarns again to savor them in the dawn light.

Dawn breaking above View Tarn & Index
Dawn breaking above View Tarn & Index
Dawn at View Tarn & Persis
Dawn at View Tarn & Persis
Dawn reflected on fresh-frozen Flowing Tarn
Dawn reflected on fresh-frozen Flowing Tarn
Dawn reflected on Flowing Tarn
Dawn reflected on Flowing Tarn
Flowing Tarn & Camp Promontory, with Yana on crest at center
Flowing Tarn & Camp Promontory, with Yana on crest at center

Traverse to Index

The way trail to Index begins at the outlet of Central Tarn, which gave me my first good view of Lower Tarn.

Intersecting shadows & reflections on Lower Tarn
Intersecting shadows & reflections on Lower Tarn
Lower Tarn, with the Southwest Knoll at Left and Camp Promontory at right
Lower Tarn, with the Southwest Knoll at Left and Camp Promontory at right
Hiking past pools in the outlet stream from Central Tarn
Hiking past pools in the outlet stream from Central Tarn

There was actually a recognizable way trail most of the way from Persindex to Index.  At first it ran south of the crest, but later mostly north of the crest, crossing back and forth where needed.  The route options seemed to alternate between steep dense trees on the south side, steep exposed meadows on the north, or steep rock cliffs scattered everywhere.  On the map, the route passed Point 5308 on the south, then ran mostly on the north, went over the top of the last sub-point before Point 5217, then descended a very steep section (literally hanging from tree to tree) to get down to the 4900-foot divide between Persis and Index.

A key route-finding clue – follow the blue polka dots.  Seriously, there were some blue-polka-dotted flags, just in four places, but they were key turning points.

From the 4900 divide, we followed the treed nose of Index’s west ridge up to the cliff band circa 5500.  We got past the cliff by a steep rightward traverse on frozen scree, then a scramble up clean rocks.  From there it was easy slopes to the top.

Blue Polka-Dotted Flat
Blue Polka-Dotted Flat
Following the way trail on the north side
Following the way trail on the north side
Looking back at the steep east wall of Persis
Looking back at the steep east wall of Persis
Looking back at the Camp Promontory (center) and Persindex (right)
Looking back at the Camp Promontory (center) and Persindex (right)
Shadows & Persis
Shadows & Persis

Index Summit

I noticed that Index is really steep.

On a point east of the summit.
On a point east of the summit.
Philadelphia, plus Merchant, Townsend & Baring
Philadelphia, plus Merchant, Townsend & Baring
Index townsite & Skykomish confluence
Index townsite & Skykomish confluence
Lake Serene
Lake Serene
Index Summit pan
Index Summit pan

Afternoon Swim at Persindex Tarns

A few weeks ago, Yana mentioned that she would have swum in a high tarn by Greenwood, but she’d have had to break the surface ice with her ice axe.  I wondered, would I be willing to try it if I found a lake with ice thin enough to break?
Hiking past the Central Tarn this morning, Dicey threw a big rock down at the ice near the outlet, and it punched through, showing the ice was fairly thin.  Would this be the day to try it?
When we got back to the Central Tarn this afternoon, the sun was shining warm, so I waded in and chopped the ice far enough back to make a swimming hole.  It wasn’t too bad except when I accidentally kicked the ice with my foot while swimming.

Swimming in the Central Tarn
Swimming in the Central Tarn
Swimming amid some floating ice
Swimming amid some floating ice

With blue skies overhead, I wandered around to savor the views of the tarns in their afternoon sunlit raiment before departing.

Central Tarn thawing
Central Tarn thawing
Central Basin Tarns, with Index summit beyond
Central Basin Tarns, with Index summit beyond
Southwest Knoll Tarns
Southwest Knoll Tarns
Western Annex Tarns
Western Annex Tarns

Exit Hike & Another Swim

We retraced our route back to Persis and down to the car, barely outpacing the dark end of the short daylight.  The gully tarn was still quite frozen.  Passing by, I was entranced for one last time by the icy reflections

Hiking past the Gully Tarn
Hiking past the Gully Tarn
Ice reflection of cliff walls in Gully Tarn
Ice reflection of cliff walls in Gully Tarn
The terrain heading back up to Persis
The terrain heading back up to Persis

The Persis Upper Tarn was completely thawed, leaving no excuse for avoiding a quick swim in this tarn as well.

Persis Upper Tarn
Persis Upper Tarn
Swimming in Persis Upper Tarn
Swimming in Persis Upper Tarn
Late light on Persis Lower Tarn
Late light on Persis Lower Tarn

Conclusion

It’s a rare privilege to have enjoyed a special place throughout a complete cycle of daylight and weather:
Arriving on a cold cloudy afternoon, with the tarns gray and freezing below hazy ranks of peaks.
At sunset, with the peaks glowing softly above the tarns.
At sunrise, with the tarns reflecting rosy pink skies.
And departing on a clear warm afternoon, with the tarns bright and thawing in the sunshine.

Caveat

This report is an expression of my delight with the Persindex tarns vicinity.  If it inspires others to go there, please let it equally inspire you to tread lightly and preserve the area.  Hike on the rocks where possible, camp away from the tarns, and try to leave it as beautiful as you found it.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
seawallrunner
dilettante



Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 3209 | TRs
Location: Lotusland
seawallrunner
dilettante
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 3:40 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
beautiful photos Matt !

On the topic of posting reports about remote/sacred places: many of us will read the report and think "oh I would love to go there too". But life gets in the way. A destination on a tick list does not a trip make. Most of us are caught up in work, relationships, hiking/climbing partner schedules. There are only 52 weekends in a year, with only a few weekends in there for the wild and woolly trips. For many of us, these trip lists will remain just that - beautiful dream destinations on a list.

So thank you for posting about your remote ridgewalk. What a beautiful series of photos, what great adventure and what a spectacular location!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
peltoms
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2006
Posts: 1757 | TRs
Location: Worcester MA
peltoms
Member
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 4:23 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Tarn ation what a trip Matt, Dicey and Yana.  Persindex basin, never heard or thought of it.  But gorgeous indeed, who would think all those tarns would be their looking up from below.  I love the reflection amidst the ice and the central tarn looking like Shangri la has been reached.  What led to the three of you coming up with this adventure?  This is must read-see trip reporting. dance.gif  breakdance.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
EastKing
Summit Addict



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 2047 | TRs
Location: 40 hours week work; 40 hours summit
EastKing
Summit Addict
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 5:28 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I gave some thought of traverse the ridge the last time I was on Persis. Now I know what to expect. Awesome TR!! up.gif  up.gif

--------------
I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.

http://www.myspace.com/climbandsurfmackg | http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=894
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
run4cache
Member
Member


Joined: 18 Jun 2006
Posts: 137 | TRs

run4cache
Member
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 7:21 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Awesome report!  I've thought of doing this for a long time and now I know it is better than I had even hoped.  Great detail, photos and craziness (swimming in the ice pools?).  Thanks for sharing the info.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Hulksmash
Cleaning up.



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 7114 | TRs
Location: Arlington
Hulksmash
Cleaning up.
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 7:30 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quote:
All of which raises a difficult question: Should this be one of the secret places, left unreported so that it won’t be despoiled by over-use?  Personally, I believe special places are best honored when they are respectfully visited and enjoyed, not left hidden and empty.

I agree!  However with tools like Google earth, Virtual earth, Flash earth, etc.  Not many places are "secret" anymore.

Quote:
The route is difficult.  It includes third-class scrambling on steep terrain, with thick tree limbs to climb through, large boulders to climb over, and cross-country navigation.  If you don’t turn at the right places, you will get cliffed out.

This will most likely filter out overuse.

Persis has been on my to do list but like seawallrunner said there's only 52 weeks in a year.

borank.gif Thank you for shareing
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 13107 | TRs
Location: Inexorable descent
Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 7:43 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wonderful trip, thanks for sharing.  Your TRs continue to inspire.  I had no idea that traverse was so cool.  I think the length and difficulty will keep the crowds down.

Matt wrote:
The Persis Upper Tarn was completely thawed, leaving no excuse for avoiding a quick swim in this tarn as well.

You are kinda crazy.  dizzy.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Tazz
Member
Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 7911 | TRs

Tazz
Member
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 8:27 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
bawl.gif   I so wanted to be on that trip!!!  Great report and of course top notch pics Matt!!!

I will get back into shape to join all you goofs again...SOON! biggrin.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 8852 | TRs
Location: Wenatchee
wildernessed
viewbagger
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 8:51 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Awesome Matt, you finally made it through there. All things in time. Great pics, looks like a future trip. up.gif

--------------
Living in the Anthropocene
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
naturealbeing
Member
Member


Joined: 05 Dec 2004
Posts: 1565 | TRs
Location: Great Mystery
naturealbeing
Member
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 9:45 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Great trip, beautifully documented with your images and story. Thanks for taking the time to share your wonderful trip.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Jeff R
Closet hiker.



Joined: 10 Apr 2005
Posts: 972 | TRs
Location: Everret
Jeff R
Closet hiker.
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 10:01 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I thought this report would never come! And what a read it is, well
worth the wait.

Great pictures and the formatt of writing is very detailed, cleaver,and entertaining.

Matt wrote:


West Wall of Index veiled in clouds
West Wall of Index veiled in clouds

I like this image a lot. It has that motivational feel to it. Like the pictures you see in offices, teamwork, ect.

Ice tarn swimming? eek.gif  up.gif

--------------
Ebrace life!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
MtnManic
Member
Member


Joined: 27 Feb 2008
Posts: 439 | TRs
Location: Kirkland WA
MtnManic
Member
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 10:15 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Your photos would inspire me to go there, but the reality is I will not.  I can visit vicariously through your report and photos.

For myself, I enjoy reports and photos of places I will not get to.

Wonderful photos.

--------------
Backpacking: limited to one pack at a time.  Cameras: limited to as many as I can carry.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
seattlehikertoo
Member
Member


Joined: 26 Jun 2008
Posts: 569 | TRs
Location: Finding an alternative to Mailbox Pk
seattlehikertoo
Member
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 10:28 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
This is the best report I've seen on this area. up.gif  up.gif I have never actually been up to the summit of index. My brother told me there was a non-technical way, but when I was there, I couldn't find it. You guys are troopers because it looks like tough going.

Btw, both times I was there, I picked up trash.  mad.gif

I am also concerned about the meadow areas getting trampled with increased use.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Schroder
Member
Member


Joined: 26 Oct 2007
Posts: 4963 | TRs
Location: on the beach
Schroder
Member
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 12:41 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Great photos. It's looks a lot colder than when I was there 2 days later.  Did you see any signs of a trail on the South side of PersIndex? There's a fresh clearcut on Road 6200 that looks like it's only a couple of hundred feet below the top on the Tolt drainage.

BTW this route is in lots of guide books - not very secret.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ingunn
Hiking Viking



Joined: 01 Feb 2008
Posts: 1754 | TRs
Location: Redmond
Ingunn
Hiking Viking
PostSat Nov 01, 2008 1:32 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Beautiful - so many fantastic photos!!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > 2008: A Persis-Index Odyssey.  “My God, It’s full of tarns!”
  Happy Birthday mtnrider, PetDrAndrea, Quest for Adrenaline, hikejon!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy