i just really hate those days when you get poured on the entire day. fortunately, today was not one of them.
it was another late start (slept in, yet again), so i was worried the rains would catch up with me. nope. the trip started from the commonwealth basin trailhead. about 1/2 mile in, i lost the trail. i didn't look very hard to refind it since i knew the pct was not far away, but some thorns and an icy grass created a bit of a spill that snapped one of my carbon fiber trekking poles. there's a silver lining to this event, however: it was to remind myself that there's some icy and slick conditions out there and that a fall is possible anywhere. i held this thought throughout the day as the exposure increased.
now on the pct, it was smooth going. there were icy patches, but nothing bad. by EL 5000', it was all ice, so i threw on the microspikes. i originally thought of heading up to kendall via the heather and dirt route, but it didn't look fun. so, i continued onto where the north ridge meets the pct. actually, i stopped before the ridge and headed up on the west side of the ridge the entire time beginning at EL 5450'. there was a bit of firm snow, but nothing you couldn't kick a good step into. i sidehilled and skirted the ridge for awhile, seeing there would be many ups and downs on the ridge proper. eventually, you want to head up to the ridge as the sidehilling gets steep - it'll be obvious. a little class 2-3 scrambling up to the summit. i met up with z-man once on the summit and we chatted for a bit. he came up the gully route (east of the ridge) and said the initial part of it sucked. on the way down, we both took the ridge proper and then dropped off to my route.
we parted ways and i began the slow slog over semi-mushy snow for the remainder of the pct to the eastern ridge of alaska mountain. this is the point where the pct jumps to the other side of the ridge and you get a view of joe lake. from here, i traversed the steep, hard-snow cover slopes of the north side of the ridge until about 50' shy of the summit where there was a sprinkle of class 3 to top out. the views here were stellar.
in fact, the views all day long were amazing. i am thoroughly impressed just how gorgeous this stretch of the pct is, especially for being right on top of i90.
on the return route, i opted to stay on the pct the whole time to avoid getting in a pre-darkness bushwack back to the parking lot.
gear not used:
full crampons (per tazz's suggestion)
two winter hats
two winter gloves
extra LS shirt
... yes, i came a bit overprepared for the worst weather imaginable. again, i love proving the forecasts wrong
-------------- man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?
The thing you think is Mt. Price is actually Big Snow. Mt. Price (which is "in front" of Big Snow from your vantage point) is not visible as it is blocked by stuff in the foreground, although I think part of the ridge of Price might be visible in the first photo.
-------------- PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
As much as I can, I intentionally choose the weekends I have to be on call for November and early December with the expectation the weather will be worthless and the skiing almost non-existent. I'm getting screwed this year!
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