I've been waiting for summer to get here, so I could plan for a couple days in the Olympics with some good weather. I've been wanting to try and climb Mt. Deception since we saw it on our climb from Mt. Baldy in Jan. I had a tough time trying to plan when exactly to go there, wait til all the snow is gone and enjoy the scenic meadows or go when there's good snow cover over the climbing route. We chose to go now for better climbing conditions and after being in the Royal basin, I know I'll need to come back later in the year.
We received our permit for camping at Royal Lake by e-mail and got directions on picking up a bear canister on the way to the trailhead at Wild Birds Unl. in Gardner. The kids and I arrived at the TH eager to start the hike. We went through a nice old growth forest with occasional rhodies underneath still in bloom. The river was gray and cool and flowing rapidly.
The kids and I continued at a slower pace as they aren't used to carrying a heavy backpack. We eventually reached the lower meadows with great views of the surrounding mountains. The lake isn't too far from there and after hitting a little snow, we were there and found a good campsite. We were all tired and laid around a bit, the kids took a quick dip in the lake while watching all the fish swim around. I forgot to pack a fishing pole, so no fishing here for us. We went to bed early to get an early start for Deception in the morning.
We woke up and got ready to head to Royal Basin and beyond. We followed a boot path through the snow and entered snowy meadows and I knew I have to visit this place without the snow sometime. Soon our main objective was in sight and I could see the path I wanted to take. I originally wanted to climb the North east face but it looked way too steep for the kids and I. So we took the "least" steep route to the Deception/Martin col.
There is still a lot of snow here, that's why I decided to camp at the lake. But after getting to the basin, I wished we planned on camping here instead. We started up past the old glacier moraines up the steeper and steeper snow slopes. Once we got up near some minor cliffs, we roped up and continued slowly up hill. There was no need for crampons as I was able to kick good steps for the kids. They got a good workout plunging the ice ax into the snow on every step.
We reached to col and took a break. The sun was hot but we were almost there. The route around to the west Gilhooley Towers looked better than the steep slope before them. The summit was in sight and the kids were out of gas and wanted no more gain. They wanted a long break to eat and drink, so they did. I left them my pack and went the last couple hundred feet to the top to get a good look at the other side toward Mystery. The views were great up there as Baker, Glacier, Rainier and a clouded Olympus was in view. I snapped a few pics and was back to them in minutes. They were thankful for the longer break and they were recharged.
We got back to the col and I thought this is where we should be able to finally move quickly. I was wrong, we had to be extra cautious going down the steep slopes. It almost took as long getting down as it did going up. I went last so I could belay the boys on a few areas. At one spot, Ryan slipped and immediately Jayden went into self arrest position and helped stop Ryan from sliding. That was a scary moment for Ryan but a great reaction by Jayden! I had him the whole time as they were on short ropes but it was nice to see them applying some of their skills on the slopes. Once we got about 600' from the basin, they were ready to glissade the rest of the way. There was a safe runout, so I let Jayden off the rope but I kept Ryan on it and ran behind him for his safety. They had a blast, that was their favorite part of the entire trip.
Since the climb took a long time and everyones boots were wet, I knew we wouldn't be trying to go up to any other areas this weekend. Instead of staying another night and putting wet boots on in the morning, we packed up the campsite and headed back to the truck. A few deer watched us as we left. It didn't bother me to pack up and go since we were all out of gas and the other peaks-Fricaba, Hal Foss and Mystery weren't going to happen this weekend anyways. We'll try those next time.
The trip out went good as the kids seem to always find more energy, they were talking just about the whole way back. It was good to finally get out for the first backpacking trip of the year, we've car camped at least a dozen times so far. The boys were already talking about where they want to go next time.
The boys are already turning into quite the mountaineers. You do a great job with them! As you stated, the upper basin is a great place to visit in late summer/ early fall. Congrats on the summit and thanks for the nice report.
Thanks everyone, the boys are really starting to retain and perform some of the things I'm trying to teach them. They will make great partners as they get older. As energetic as they can be, they displayed a lot of patience going back down the mountain. Being safe was a top priority and using an ice ax is becoming second nature to them.
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