I really enjoyed this summit. It has a lot going for it. Almost three hours of driving to get there, a tourist filled lake close in, an amazing valley of old growth and magnificent boulders, one of the nicest backcountry camps I have been in, some steep forest, and old burn and avalanche field, a wet gully, scree and talus, snow filled gullies, and a final scramble to reach the summit.
We went in on saturday May 30. Some of our party was delayed, lost, and unequipped. Maybe they will join us later. There was no hurry, so we didn't. Lena Lake is very nice, and many families were camped there.
The trail signage is very good. The valley of the Silent Men lived up to it's reputation. Gorgeous old trees and boulders fill the valley. The climbers camp is between two forks of Lena Creek. Check upstream both ways for additional camps.
We partied hard, and listened to the other climbers in camp having just returned from the summit. Clues in hand we felt good about the next days plan. Brent cooked us chicken and rice and corn with a cream sauce. Adam stoked a small fire.
It was light when we left camp at 5:30. Easy trail cruised up through the timber, always within sound of the stream. We entered the burned/avalanched area, and wandered among two different paths.
A gully with water and loose rocks is easily followed upward. The entire lower route had no shortage of flags and cairns. We broke out of the gully and saw our first snow around 4500'. This is also where the goats started following us.
Helmets and axes came out. No need for spikes today, but we took them anyways. The route is not always obvious. If a gully looks too narrow, then it is not the correct way. Whenever there was a gully choice, we went to the right. The only exception was the hourglass, which did not have enough snow to climb. This is easily bypassed on a ridge to the right.
Back into the main gully, it steepened. By this time it was consistently 40 degrees. Further up it got to 45, 50, and for the last few feet it may have been 55 degrees. Self belay was easy, and good steps were kicked.
A dirty scramble, a small snow patch, and some rock work got us to the summit block. Woo-hoo! A five volcano view. All of the Cascades and many Olympic mountains were out for us. It's tough when I know the names of so few summits over there. We were up top for at least 1.5 hours!
We saw a man traverse over from the other summit. He mentioned a four hour bushwack and cliff dodge to get there. He did not recommend it. Two skiers were the only other people we saw all day.
Bill rigged a hand line for us on the way down the steepish rock. It certainly helped me make the first move. After that it was okay. Despite the steepness, decent glissading was to be had. Rocks are showing through, and we crossed two suspect snow bridges. By this time, the route has probably gone to hell. I highly recommend good snow coverage for this route.
In the burn on the way down we found another path that swung out to the north. It was here that I saw some large flower patches, and a nice waterfall.
We staggered into camp around 300. Hitting the trail around 430, we said good bye to the mountains and finally made the cars around 800. Turkey sandwiches, chips, and root beer hit the spot.
R/T 17 miles, 6000'+ gain. It could be done in a long day with a trailhead bivy, but if you like to camp, there are plenty of great spots.
Nice work, that's quite a team! I have pictures of that same waterfall, I remember it being really neat! I am also not too familiar with the Olympics peaks, so I started labeling your panoramic to help me out
Joined: 09 Jun 2007 Posts: 203 | TRs | Pics Location: Shoreline, WA
Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:05 am
Nice work, nice pics. I liked hearing about the goat that followed you.
I saw a bunch of these "Olympic Faces" leaves when hiking down from Lena Lake.
At first I thought it was some little kid poking holes in leaves as they rambled down the trail with their family. Then kept seeing more and more of them. What they heck are they?
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