Joined: 02 Jan 2013
Posts: 691 | TRs
Location: Snoqualmie, WA
|Given the forecast of fog and potential precipitation, this was intended to be nothing more than a dumpster dive trip. To our delight, however, the weatherman got everything wrong.
With initial expectations set low for the day, we got off to a relatively late start. I left Seattle around 4:30 AM and met *trace just outside Bellingham at 7:00 AM. We continued to the Elbow Lake trailhead and finally got moving around 8:00 AM.
After butt-scooting across a cold, frosty log over the Middle Fork Nooksack River, we located the trail and continued on our way. For the first 2 miles or so, we didn't see so much as a speck of snow. After that, we encountered soft, shallow snow patches until we finally turned off the trail around 2.4 miles.
From here we cut into the trees and headed S towards a moderately steep gully. We climbed up the snow-filled gully in a SE direction. The snow was very soft so we just booted up -- no crampons needed. Around 3,700 ft. the gully tapered out and we put on our snowshoes to avoid post-holing in the mushy snow.
We continued another .4 miles in a SW direction until we were just below pt. 5019. Around this time we switched to crampons as the snow had turned from mashed potatoes to concrete.
In the interest of saving time, we decided to head straight up the steep, north facing aspect of pt. 5019 to reach the top of the ridge. As a matter of safety, we decided to go one at a time. About 2/3 of the way up, I was front pointing with my crampons and barely able to penetrate the snow with my axe. I wouldn't have been able to arrest in the event of a fall, so I decided to downclimb and find another way up.
After getting back down, we went around base of the NW ridge of pt. 5019 for .2 miles until we reached a much more inviting slope to ascend from. We headed up the slope in a SE direction until reaching the top of the ridge between pt. 5019 and pt. 5041. Most of the snow along the way was still hard as concrete and covered in ice.
From the top of the ridge we had spectacular views of Baker, the Sisters, and the North Cascades. We experienced warm weather and mostly clear skies for the majority of the trip. Just before heading back down some ugly clouds started to roll in, but they were inconsequential by that point.
7.98 miles RT
4,086 ft. elevation gain
Climbing up the last bit of the gully.
Looking down on Lake Wiseman.
Nice and sunny out. Photo by *trace.
Climbing the north side of pt. 5019. The little speck below the upper exposed rock would be me. Photo by *trace.
The NW slope.
Photo by *trace.