Jeff and I headed up to climb around Vesper & Sperry over the last couple days. The weather report wasn't great, but also wasn't bad (but better than the heat wave!) so we went up to wander in the mist.
Up to the pass
The hike up over Headlee Pass was pleasantly cool. My new trekking poles were handy to swing ahead into the brush beside the trail knocking off the drops of water so we didn't get totally soaked.
Headlee the hard way
After leaving our camping gear at a nice spot near the lake we headed straight up Vesper hoping to find a good route through the cliffs hiding in the clouds. Visibility was never more than a hundred feet, which just added to the atmosphere and made a familiar little mountain we've both climbed and skied many times feel much bigger and more mysterious.
a firm rib among the choss
Beautiful granite slabs
We found a clean rib up through a gully area to climb through the lower cliffs, then followed glacial polished granite slabs and ridges to the top.
The sun was trying to burn through the clouds and it was quite warm and pleasant. We found two fellow climbers lounging on the summit rocks and had a nice chat with them. After they headed down Jeff and I enjoyed the funny wrestling marmot show for half an hour.
We headed down the ridge between Vesper and Sperry into thickening clouds.
We soon came to a ridge looming up into the mist. Thinking it was Sperry we cruised up and came to the top much quicker than we anticipated. The last bit was quite exposed and didn't look familiar to either of us, but our last times up Sperry were many years ago so we carried on. Then the clouds parted for just a moment revealing a distant ridge with a glacier below it. This threw us for a complete loop - we got out the compass and couldn't believe what it told us. We'd left the map in camp, and didn't think there was a glacier anywhere near Sperry, so we just couldn't wrap our minds around where we were or what we were looking at.
We finally figured out that we were on some mid ridge bump between the peaks and headed down.
descending the bump
We felt better once we picked up the trail, but then we lost it near the top, so I ended up doing some steep trees while Jeff found a better way to the right.
Descending Sperry went easier, but when we hit the lake we were again discombobulated as we almost circled it in 30 ft. visibility. It seemed much larger (as had everything all day) so we were rather relieved to finally wander into camp.
We had other plans for the second day, but the continued unsettled weather and the uneasy feelings of dislocation from the day before, made us second guess ourselves so we just went up to check out the approach.
The obscure object of our desire
Hiking out was pleasant as we descended back into the thickening clouds. We are lucky boys to have such easy access to rugged little mountains in our back yard that can feel so wild and wooly.
HA HA HA!
Like the vid and the pics are not to shabby either.
Nitehawk, it was very nice to chat and lounge like lizards on the warm rock with you. After you left, we sat and watched the marmots duke it out for at least 15 mins. I think that they were just shy in the presence of two pretty ladies
When I think of all the times I've tried to capture fog ........
Sigh. Nice shot.
And of course I love the marmots. The only time I've seen that was out at the end of the Heliotrope Ridge Trail, the same day I took that set of the marmots checking out my equipment. Unfortunately, the wrestling match took place before I'd gotten to my camera, and I didn't dare try for it, for fear I'd disturb them.
I think my pair was a little less serious than yours. They stood the whole time and went at it like a couple of sumo wrestlers.
-------------- Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you....... Go and find it. Go!
We saw a similar marmot show in Royal Basin ealier this summer -- but I didn't get it on video. Good job with that.
It looks like you had your eyes on that vast plain of granite between Sperry and Big Four, and probably the summit of Big Four too. I've eyed that ridge many times thinking how cool it would be to wander along it on a nice fall day. How were you planning on getting down to it?
Was the lake melted out at all? This time last year the whole area was snow covered.
BTW, alpine areas can take up to 20 years to recover from fire damage (this per Rainier flower replanting ranger). Something to think about.
Loper & Paula, while I don't normally have a camp fire it was most welcome that misty night to dry out our wet pants. We used an established fire ring on dirt/rock - no plants were damaged. This area is not in a park or wilderness area, so fires are legal.
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