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Matt
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostSat Feb 25, 2012 11:09 pm 
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Exceeding the Daylight on Chokwich & West Twin


Date: January 11, 2012
Destination:  “Chokwich” 5662 & West Twin Peak 5840 (USGS Bedal)
Party:  Matt, Dicey, Yana, Gabriel, Lindsay

The trip ascended Chokwich Peak and the west summit of Twin Peaks, approaching from Perry Creek.  We used the same route reported in Stefan’s trip report.

We hiked up Perry Creek, then continued east to the 5450 high point on the ridge above Perry’s headwater basin.  This point is actually a Y-shaped junction between the ridges extending north to Forgotten, south to Twin Peaks, and east to Chokwich.   From there we took the east branch down to a col and back up to Chokwich.  Later, returning back to the Perry Creek side, we traversed south and up to the Twin Peaks col and climbed West Twin Peak.

For ease of reference, I am assigning names to the features where we spent most of the day:
• The long north-south ridge at the head of Perry Creek connecting Twin Peaks & Forgotten is “TwinGotten Ridge.”
• The 5450 junction point is “ChokTwin Point.”
• The col between ChokTwin Point & Chokwich is “Chokwich Col.”

Chokwich & West Twin Track
Chokwich & West Twin Track
Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile

Chokwich 5662

“I’ll just stay in your footsteps” (Dicey, descending  to Chokwich Col)

Dickerman TH 1889 to Perry Creek Waterfall 3350 (7:00 – 9:00am)

We started before dawn from the Dickerman trailhead.  It was cold enough that my car’s trunk still held the frosty handprints that people had made while we were loading up in Seattle.  As we walked the  1.25 mile connector trail to the Perry Creek trailhead, we were treated to glimpses of the moon setting behind Hall and pink alpenglow lighting up big Four.

Frosty handprints still on the car from Seattle
Frosty handprints still on the car from Seattle
Moon setting behind Hall Peak, from the Dickerman/Perry  connector trail
Moon setting behind Hall Peak, from the Dickerman/Perry  connector trail
Pink dawn on Big Four from the Perry Creek Road
Pink dawn on Big Four from the Perry Creek Road
Cookies at the Perry Creek trailhead
Cookies at the Perry Creek trailhead

The Perry Creek trail has only an inch or two of snow, but it was frozen so hard in the open areas that we had to don crampons.  Those stayed on for the rest of the day.

Perry Creek Waterfall to ChokTwin Point 5450 (9am – noon)

The northern cliffs of Dickerman made an impressive wall on our right.  Flurries of spindrift periodically swirled down.  Beyond the Perry Creek waterfall, we angled up and right across open slopes, crossing to the headwall of the basin just above a waterfall coming down from the Dickerman/Twin col.  This whole upper Perry basin was  wide-open avalanche terrain; I wouldn’t want to be here in anything but very stable conditions.

Little spindrift avalanches off the east cliffs of Dickerman
Little spindrift avalanches off the east cliffs of Dickerman
Hiking snowfields out up from Perry Creek
Hiking snowfields out up from Perry Creek
Suggestive ice formation (it was the women, not the men, who pointed out the anatomical analogy)
Suggestive ice formation (it was the women, not the men, who pointed out the anatomical analogy)

To ascend the basin headwall, we ran from lower right to upper left, angling just below a rock band, and then up through small trees up to the lower-angled band circa 4900 feet. 

Looking back at the Perry Creek valley between Dickerman & Stillaguamish
Looking back at the Perry Creek valley between Dickerman & Stillaguamish
Route up the ridge –  angling below rock bands from right middle up to center top, then over the high point in the center
Route up the ridge –  angling below rock bands from right middle up to center top, then over the high point in the center

Unfortunately, Lindsay wasn’t feeling well, so she and Gabriel stopped here and went back to the car.  The rest of us cached our snowshoes in the upper basin and continued.   There was a hard crust under the newer snow, and I wouldn’t have trusted the snowshoes not to slip on steeper slopes.

As we neared neared the crest, the sun finally appeared, as a hazy ball through the high clouds.  The opposite side of TwinGotten Ridge was wildly corniced and cliffy.

Clouded sun behind the corniced crest
Clouded sun behind the corniced crest
Kicking steps up toward the crest
Kicking steps up toward the crest
Wildly corniced east side of the crest
Wildly corniced east side of the crest

ChokTwin Point 5450 to Chokwich Col 5200 to Chokwich 5662 (noon – 1:20pm)

Yikes!  How do we get down off of that?  We very carefully poked our heads over the edge near trees till we found a spot north of the point where we could cross between cornices.  Then we had to make our way down the steep crest to the col, working around rocky outcrops.  Stefan’s group didn’t mention any problems, but it was quite intimidating to us, with cliffy drops below and cornices hiding the edges.   The snow was stable, but there was a hard crust about a foot down, so we placed every step carefully, because a fall would have been very difficult to arrest.

Getting around a steep outcrop
Getting around a steep outcrop
Working down the ridge, with ChokTwin Point behind
Working down the ridge, with ChokTwin Point behind
A bit of an aręte, with Chokwich ahead
A bit of an aręte, with Chokwich ahead

From the col, it was much easier terrain up to Chokwich on the far side.

Chokwich Summit (1:20 – 2:40pm)

The broad summit ridge of Chokwich was a welcome relief from the edgy travel.

Looking back at TwinGotten Ridge, it was impressive to see how steep and deeply cut the terrain is in this area. 

Yana arriving on Chokwich
Yana arriving on Chokwich
Dicey arriving on Chokwich, with Sloan beyond
Dicey arriving on Chokwich, with Sloan beyond
Looking back at the terrain from Chokwich: Twin Peaks is at upper center, Perry Creek is at left, the ridge we descended to get across the dividing wall is right in the middle (below Twin Peaks)
Looking back at the terrain from Chokwich: Twin Peaks is at upper center, Perry Creek is at left, the ridge we descended to get across the dividing wall is right in the middle (below Twin Peaks)

Views from Chokwich summit:

Three Fingers crest
Three Fingers crest
Shadow of Chokwich on the Sauk Valley below Pugh
Shadow of Chokwich on the Sauk Valley below Pugh
Bedal, Sloan, and Slodal
Bedal, Sloan, and Slodal
Twin Peaks, and our approach ridge
Twin Peaks, and our approach ridge
Lunch & Monte Cristo Group
Lunch & Monte Cristo Group
Chokwich summit tea
Chokwich summit tea

I tried to take a group photo.  On my first attempt, a wind gust blew the camera off of the pole just as the timer went off.   It caught one frame of the sky, one frame of the approaching snow, and eight frames of darkness after landing lens-down.  After some time cleaning out the snow, we made a successful group photo.

Camera Fall
Camera Fall
Summit Dance
Summit Dance

Chokwich to ChokTwinPoint to Snowshoe Cache 4900 (2:05 – 3:15pm)

On the way back, with the steps already kicked in, I had the luxury of taking more photos of the route.

Retracing the connecting ridge across Chokwich Col:

Departing Chokwich
Departing Chokwich
Gotta climb back up across that
Gotta climb back up across that
Our tracks on the connector
Our tracks on the connector
Re-crossing the aręte
Re-crossing the aręte
On the aręte (Yana needs a brighter jacket)
On the aręte (Yana needs a brighter jacket)

Crossing the ridge:

Suncloud over Twin Peaks
Suncloud over Twin Peaks
Looking over the cornice line to Big Four & Dickerman
Looking over the cornice line to Big Four & Dickerman
Dropping back to our snowshoes on the Perry Creek side
Dropping back to our snowshoes on the Perry Creek side

West Twin 5840

“I like sunset summits.”  (Yana, proceeding to West Twin)

Snowshoe Cache to Twin Peaks Col 5630 (3:15 – 4:05pm)

Above our heads, the sun crossed a line in the sky.  All day till now, the clouds had been a hazy bowl overhead.  But now the sun dropped below the cloud edge out west, with clear sky all the way down to the horizon.  Fine prospects of evening light and alpenglow!  We decided to continue onward for a sunset climb of West Twin Peak.

Sunshine!
Sunshine!
ChokTwin Point, Chokwich, and the tip of Sloan
ChokTwin Point, Chokwich, and the tip of Sloan
Hiking past walls of icicles
Hiking past walls of icicles

We raced the sunset in a shadowy traverse south across the basin.  At Twin Peaks col, we crossed back into the light as tinted toward evening color.

Heading for the Twin Peaks col
4 labels
Heading for the Twin Peaks col
Approaching the col
Approaching the col
Crossing into sunlight
Crossing into sunlight
My shadow from the col onto East Twin
My shadow from the col onto East Twin
Late light on Forgotten, Whitechuck, ChokTwin Point, Chokwich & Sloan
Late light on Forgotten, Whitechuck, ChokTwin Point, Chokwich & Sloan

Twin Peaks Col –West Twin Summit Notch 5800 (4:05 – 4:30pm)

We traversed westward below the summit rocks to reach the large gully that is directly below the summit.  At the top of the gully we veered briefly left up the steepish, and then went up right into a narrow gully with trees.  This brought us to the crest at the notch between the summit on our left and its eastern fin of rock on the right.  Just beyond our feet, the corniced edge opened onto a thousand foot drop down the other side.

The light deepened and intensified from shining gold to molten orange.

Traversing below West Twin
Traversing below West Twin
Dicey leading up the gully to the summit area
Dicey leading up the gully to the summit area
Yana ascending the gully
Yana ascending the gully
Turning a steep corner
Turning a steep corner
Climber in the last orange light
Climber in the last orange light

We popped out onto the crest just in time for the pink blaze of alpenglow across the surrounding summits.

View through the notch: Forgotten & Whitechuck
View through the notch: Forgotten & Whitechuck
View through the notch: ChokTwin Point & Chokwich in shadow, Pugh in alpenglow
View through the notch: ChokTwin Point & Chokwich in shadow, Pugh in alpenglow
Sloan
Sloan
East Twin & Glacier
East Twin & Glacier
Monte Cristo Peaks
Monte Cristo Peaks

West Twin Summit 5840 Belay (4:30 – 5:45pm)

We geared up and anchored around a dead tree.  The sun was below the horizon below we started up.

The summit pitch was short but awkward, because snow coated and masked the rocks, but wasn’t deep enough to kick steps.  So it was a lot of kicking and hacking at the snow to clear off the rock enough to make a path.  Coming down was even more awkward, trying to pivot and slide-step down a bulging rock in the middle. 

Gearing up
Gearing up
Sun gone behind Big Four
Sun gone behind Big Four

We went up one at a time to tag the summit.  The photos below were long exposures using the last bit of indirect light from the sky.

Looking down the belay line
Looking down the belay line
Summit View looking east
Summit View looking east
Looking north down to our tracks
Looking north down to our tracks

Dicey and Yana made their ascents by headlamp, as the evening dropped to full dark.

Dicey’s light near the summit
Dicey’s light near the summit
Dicey descending
Dicey descending

Exit (5:45 – 9:00pm)

Then we had the fun of packing up and following our tracks all the way back down in the dark.

Packing our gear at the notch
Packing our gear at the notch
Down into darkness
Down into darkness

We arrived at the trailhead to find my car just as we had left it – all alone in the darkness in the big empty parking lot.  First in, last out.  A note from Lindsay and Gabriel indicated that they had found a ride home.  We started the car and began changing gear.  Then I turned the headlight switch, and the car went totally dead.  No electricity, not even a faint beep.  Now it felt really cold and dark and late.  But then I remembered that I hadn’t had the right wrench to fully tighten the battery clamp when I put in a new battery recently.  I wiggled the loose clamp, and everything came back on.  Hooray for light and heat and transportation.

Stats: 11 miles, 5480 gain, 14 hours

Historical Footnote, Twin Peaks 5/9/2004

Back in May 2004, I had climbed Twin Peaks with mtnmike by approaching from the south.  To reach West Twin from the Twin Peaks Col, however, we hadn’t traversed over to the gully that we used today.  Instead I remembered scrambling up onto the rock and traversing on a ledge to get to the notch below the summit area.  Why the difference?  Looking back at old photos, I could see why.  In late spring or summer conditions, the gully snow was broken, but the rock was dry.  However, now in winter, the rock was icy, but the gully was snow-filled.

Twin Peaks summits from the south.  Yellow line is summer route.  Blue line is winter route.  Green line is summit finish for either.
Twin Peaks summits from the south.  Yellow line is summer route.  Blue line is winter route.  Green line is summit finish for either.
West Twin summit and routes viewed from East Twin.
West Twin summit and routes viewed from East Twin.
The ramp that cuts around the eastern fin of West Twin.
The ramp that cuts around the eastern fin of West Twin.

Either way, West Twin’s short summit pitch was awkward, especially that one big smooth rock below the summit.  Without snow, you had to just hand onto the edge and slide your whole body down it till your feet hit the step below.

West Twin summit without snow
West Twin summit without snow
Looking down at the West Twin belay
Looking down at the West Twin belay
Awkward with or without snow
Awkward with or without snow

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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yukon222
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yukon222
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PostSun Feb 26, 2012 8:09 am 
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Another stellar trip by you and your crew!  I really like how you always take the time to snap pics throughout the entire adventure - even at tricky spots where photography is difficult.  The full picture set tells the complete story of the day.

Well done!!
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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostSun Feb 26, 2012 9:30 am 
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Awesome adventure right in the middle of winter.  up.gif  up.gif  Another high quality trip report Matt.  Thanks for writing it up.
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BarbE
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PostSun Feb 26, 2012 2:33 pm 
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Many of Matt's TR's inspire to follow in his footsteps. Most of them, including this one will stay out of reach for most of us.
How exciting to live vicariously through his story telling and pictures.
Thanks Matt, for another great one!  borank.gif
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puzzlr
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puzzlr
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PostSun Feb 26, 2012 3:27 pm 
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Evening in winter scares me, and I hurry down before dark. You seem to thrive on winter climbs well beyond dusk! I think I'll do these some sunny September.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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iron
getting old



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iron
getting old
PostSun Feb 26, 2012 4:25 pm 
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hooray for the return of the summit sunset series!

and yes, anatomically pretty close smile.gif

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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
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popzeus
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PostSun Feb 26, 2012 7:40 pm 
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Wow, that looks like an awesome day (and night).  up.gif

You parked at the Dickerman TH? Is the MLH open again?
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Matt
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Matt
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PostSun Feb 26, 2012 10:44 pm 
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popzeus wrote:
You parked at the Dickerman TH? Is the MLH open again?

Sorry, I'm catching up on previous trip reports, so this was on 1/11/12.  Currently the road is closed a the Deer Creek gate.

puzzlr wrote:
Evening in winter scares me, and I hurry down before dark. You seem to thrive on winter climbs well beyond dusk!

If I have to descend in the dark, I prefer winter, because there are tracks in the snow to follow.

And I do enjoy sunset summits.  But the other explanation is that I'm just slow; Stefan's group did this same trip plus East Twin in much less time.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Yana
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PostMon Feb 27, 2012 9:35 am 
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Great trip report as always, Matt!

I particularly enjoyed the feature names and the comparison photographs from your 2004 trip!  up.gif  up.gif

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PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
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Mike Collins
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PostMon Feb 27, 2012 12:20 pm 
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Hey Matt...The corniced ridge toward Chokwich and attendant risk was mentioned in a trip report I did for wta.org http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/tripreport-2003041301
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Go Jo
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Go Jo
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PostMon Feb 27, 2012 12:34 pm 
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Fantastic write-up of what sounds to be a great mountain experience!
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popzeus
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PostMon Feb 27, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Matt wrote:
popzeus wrote:
You parked at the Dickerman TH? Is the MLH open again?

Sorry, I'm catching up on previous trip reports, so this was on 1/11/12.  Currently the road is closed a the Deer Creek gate.

No, my bad, it is the first thing written in your report. I was too mesmerized by that slide show... slobber.gif

Even if I could get to the trailhead, doing this in the snow is a bit above my comfort level. Maybe after I have a bit more experience under my belt.

A very inspiring trip report nonetheless.  up.gif
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