Forum Index > Trip Reports > Palmer Mtn (USGS Grotto), 2/5/11
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 3974 | TRs | Pics
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostSun Feb 06, 2011 10:54 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Date: 2/5/11
Destination: Palmer Mtn 5043 (USGS Grotto), via East Ridge
Party: Martin Shetter, Dave Creeden, Dicey, Matt

I had tried this peak in 1994, when we stopped 250 feet below the summit, because steep snow on the final traverse might have been unstable.  Back then, we followed a convoluted route trying to stay on logging roads.  This time we used a simpler route - just go uphill and stay on the ridge crest.

For today's weather, Martin interpreted the arcane postulations of MM5 to conclude that it wouldn't rain till after 5pm.  He was right. 
He also suggested that the clouds would top out at about 5000 feet.  He was partially right.

Palmer Route Map (white line is the road drive, red line is the hike)
Palmer Route Map (white line is the road drive, red line is the hike)

We drove FR 6030 to its major washout at Lowe Creek, 880 feet.  Along the way, we also crossed a lesser washout and drove for about a tenth of a mile through shallow water where the road had become a stream.

At the creek, I found a spot where I could jump across from one large rock to a lower large rock.  Almost.    I didn't quite stick the landing, and flopped onto the lower rock with one foot briefly flailing in the water.   Martin also made the jump, but Dicey fell short and ended up half in the stream hanging onto a pole as Martin pulled her out.  She lost one pole in the process, and later her camera died from the immersion.  So that probably wasn't a good plan.  Meanwhile Dave had worked his way downstream through the brush and found a log he could walk across dry-shod.  That was probably a better plan.  (At the end of the day, we all used a different plan.)

Crossing Lowe Creek
Crossing Lowe Creek

We walked the road about 0.2 miles past Lowe Creek, where a forested nose comes down near the road, and headed uphill.  From there on, we just followed the crest upward.  Most places weren't too brushy, just steep hillsides with mossy logs and sword ferns.  We crossed a couple road switchbacks, most noticeably one with an old hunter's platform in a tree circa 1250 feet.  There were a few narrow spots to get around rock outcrops, but nothing that required more than easy scrambling.

In the lower woods
In the lower woods
Bypassing a rock outcrop
Bypassing a rock outcrop

At 2600 feet, we hit the main abandoned road again.  Here we did need to take the road, moving right a few hundred yards to get north of an old quarry.  The quarry forms quite a cliff blasted into the mountainside.  To the right of the quarry, we got onto the narrow rib of the ridge and continued up.  By 3500 feet we had solid snow underfoot, and classic misty winter woods for hiking.

Misty winter woods hiking 1
Misty winter woods hiking 1
Misty winter woods hiking 2
Misty winter woods hiking 2

When we reached the base of the false summit, we traversed around the south side circa 4800 feet, so that we could bypass steep rocks on the main summit.  The snow became quite hard and steep as we proceeded, so we had to pause in a tree clump to don crampons.  A bit past the summit, we found a gully that took us to the top, though the snow covering the rocks was a bit thin in spots.

At the base of the false summit
At the base of the false summit
Traversing below the summit
Traversing below the summit
Ascending the gully
Ascending the gully
A thin spot in the gully
A thin spot in the gully

At the summit, the sun actually came out and shone on us for at least a full minute.  A few gaps in the clouds gave us glimpses of Crosby across the valley.

The moment of sunshine
The moment of sunshine
Lunch & a view of some part of Crosby
Lunch & a view of some part of Crosby
The summit post
The summit post
Summit tea, looking back down at the false summit
Summit tea, looking back down at the false summit
Maybe Crosby summit floating in the clouds
Maybe Crosby summit floating in the clouds
The only glimpse of blue sky
The only glimpse of blue sky
Foggy forest below
Foggy forest below

Then it was back down, delaying occasionally for photos.

I really like the feel of the cloudy winter woods. with the mist glowing slightly above the snowy ground, and the moss-bearded trunks fading into soft shadows.  It has sort of a gentle mystical feel to it, with all the edges softened and the light diffused by the misty air.

Icy cedar
Icy cedar
Little rime
Little rime
Foggy tree trunks
Foggy tree trunks
Descending foggy woods
Descending foggy woods
Descending foggy woods
Descending foggy woods

Lower down, an outlook from atop the quarry cliff gave a view of Grotto's Radenska Ridge.
Buried under a mossy log, Dicey found a balloon to honor her birthday, which was yesterday.
At the bottom, we went a bit too far right, where the woods were flatter and junkier, but also greener.

Grotto townsite & Radenska Ridge
2 labels
Grotto townsite & Radenska Ridge
Dicey's birthday balloon
Dicey's birthday balloon
Not so fun to walk through
Not so fun to walk through
Mossy trunks
Mossy trunks
Mossy curves
Mossy curves

At Lowe Creek, with the car in sight on the other side, we chose the simplest crossing method - just walk across the wider shallower part, which was at most 12-15 inches deep.  My feet would barely have gotten wet, except that I stopped to take photos of the water running over my boots.

Martin crossing Lowe Creek
Martin crossing Lowe Creek
Dave crossing Lowe Creek
Dave crossing Lowe Creek
Dicey crossing Lowe Creek
Dicey crossing Lowe Creek
My feet in Lowe Creek
My feet in Lowe Creek

Stats: Round trip 5.5 miles, 4200 gain, 7:15 hours

--------------
“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
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1622 | TRs | Pics
Location: Red Lodge, MT
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors
PostSun Feb 06, 2011 10:58 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Looks like a great way to spend your Sunday  smile.gif
Nice TR

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
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
iron
getting old



Joined: 10 Aug 2008
Posts: 5529 | TRs | Pics
Location: kenmore
iron
getting old
PostSun Feb 06, 2011 11:25 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
yep, should've joined. i thought it'd take longer.

how was the snow in the finally gully?

martin needs to teach us all how to use MM5 and dicey needs longer legs chickenleg.gif

--------------
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?

--- moe sizlack
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
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 5772 | TRs | Pics
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 12:08 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Great TR. Glad things worked out after a "dicey" start. I looked at the map first and it didn't look so far, then I was surprised by the 4200' and 7+ hours. Nice work.

--------------
Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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
Sky Hiker
Member
Member


Joined: 03 Feb 2007
Posts: 693 | TRs | Pics
Location: Skykomish
Sky Hiker
Member
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 5:17 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Nice report!! Been there done that except the part of falling in the drink lol.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
Redwic
Unlisted Free Agent



Joined: 23 Feb 2009
Posts: 3162 | TRs | Pics
Location: On Hiking Hiatus
Redwic
Unlisted Free Agent
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 5:27 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Great report! I considered attempting Palmer this weekend, but then I figured the conditions would be too sketchy. Good job!

--------------
"Revolutions are not overnight. The heightist mindset has minimally a 100 year head start. Eventually the climbing community will embrace prominence." -Adam Helman
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
Snowdog
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Jul 2006
Posts: 886 | TRs | Pics
Location: on (& off) the beaten path
Snowdog
Member
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 8:41 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quote:
I really like the feel of the cloudy winter woods. with the mist glowing slightly above the snowy ground, and the moss-bearded trunks fading into soft shadows.  It has sort of a gentle mystical feel to it, with all the edges softened and the light diffused by the misty air.

Couldn't have said it better myself.  up.gif

--------------
'we don't have time for a shortcut'
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
dicey
custom title



Joined: 11 May 2004
Posts: 2854 | TRs | Pics
Location: giving cornices a wider berth
dicey
custom title
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 8:52 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
iron wrote:

how was the snow in the finally gully?
martin needs to teach us all how to use MM5 and dicey needs longer legs chickenleg.gif

Snow in the final gully was thin and a little icy.  Martin was able to kick good steps and we all wore crampons up and down (facing in) this gully.

Longer legs would really be useful for a lot of reasons!

Being wet all day wasn't that comfortable, luckily the temps were mild.

--------------
I'm not always sure I like being older but being less stupid has advantages.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32121172@N00/sets/
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
Martin S
Member
Member


Joined: 06 May 2007
Posts: 176 | TRs | Pics
Location: Out in the perimeter, where there are no stars
Martin S
Member
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 1:44 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Palmer turned out to be a really nice trip.  It was much less brushy than I had feared, and it was great to be able to drive all the way to Lowe Creek.  I would recommend a high clearance vehicle for that road, though.  It's got some rough spots.  I would also recommend not trying to walk the old road shown on the topo since it's badly overgrown.  Just stick to the crown of the ridge like Matt drew on the map above and you'll find some bits of game/climber trails to help out.  They really should make all the deer wear little backpacks with ice axes sticking up so they can't make trails that duck under branches where us climbers get all hung up.

Here's a picture of the final bit of rock to the summit, taken in the spring a few years ago:

South side of Palmer summit (from Crosby)
South side of Palmer summit (from Crosby)

The east ridge we came up is at the right, and we went up the gully with the tiny snow patch in it just a little left of the summit.  It's not as steep as you might guess from the picture, but it's not a place you'd want to be if the avalanche danger was high.

--------------
Your head is there to move you around
- REM, "Stand"
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
MtnGoat
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 9276 | TRs | Pics
Location: Lyle, WA
MtnGoat
Member
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 2:00 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I've always been fascinated by that area, partly due to it's little traveled nature, partly due to the lure of the limestone deposits up there. Several sources (including Caves of WA if I remember correctly) discuss karst and sink topography in isolated patches up there, and one report discussed a fissure with open space behind it in one of the limestone outcrops. There could well be undiscovered caves up there, and it would rank as one of the very few cave bearing limestone units in WA. (Cave Ridge (Snoqualmie), Dock Butte, Metaline Falls, Cave Ridge (Okanogan), San Juans).

--------------
Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
cartman
Member
Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2007
Posts: 2510 | TRs | Pics
Location: Fremont
cartman
Member
PostMon Feb 07, 2011 9:02 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Interesting conditions.  Not really remembering the route we did, but maybe Randy, don b, or Justus would.  Wonder if that's the same gully we bypassed and went up to the right of, perhaps due to hard snow.  We did it in Feb too.
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
BigSteve
mere tourist



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 11057 | TRs | Pics
Location: here now
BigSteve
mere tourist
PostTue Feb 08, 2011 7:35 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
the Zachster
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 4722 | TRs | Pics
Location: dog training
the Zachster
Member
PostTue Feb 08, 2011 8:48 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Interesting creek crossing eek.gif ...sorry it didn't end so well for everyone! Thanks for a great TR to a lesser known destination. And even though I prefer crisp white snow against a bright blue sky...those misty forest scenes are certainly delightful as well! agree.gif  up.gif

--------------
"May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am"
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Palmer Mtn (USGS Grotto), 2/5/11
  Happy Birthday Hiker Mama, ReubenD!
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