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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Ararat, Pyramid, Copper, Iron & Satulick (MRNP) 1/19-20/2013
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
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Post Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:44 pm   
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Ararat Summit Camp & Neighborhood Loop
January 19-20, 2013

 
Destination:  Ararat 6010, Pyramid 6937, Copper 6280, Iron 6283, Satulick 5577 (Mount Rainier National Park)
Party: Matt, Dicey, Gabriel D, Lindsay M, BarbE, Sadie's Driver, Middle E, Schmidt Altibabe

The highlight of the trip was camping atop Ararat in beautiful weather, enjoying the company of great people, and watching Rainier for hours as the light shifted from daylight to sunset to moonlight.


I didn't have a tripod or timer, so the images shift position a bit.  My camera was on a gorilla pod, which was velcro'ed to the top of a trekking pole, which was propped up by an ice axe and two snowshoes.  Lucky I wasn't needing to go anywhere for a while.  Then I manually triggered it at intervals to record the changing light.

Itinerary:
Saturday:  Hike Kautz Creek trail to Mt. Ararat.  Camp on summit plateau.  Enjoy crystal clear warm weather, watch the sun set and moon shine on Mt. Rainier, consume variety of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.
Sunday:  Snowshoe & crampon up Pyramid.  Traverse over Copper & Iron.  Optional side trip to Satulick.  Go back up Ararat.  Pack up camp and hike out.


Saturday

Kautz Creek TH 2450 to Ararat 6010

It took about 86 emails to set up this trip, but we finally all made it to the Kautz Creek trail, after some last minute oversleeping and re-arranging of carpools.  The ranger at Longmire very kindly opened up early so we could get our permit and get started.

We hiked the Kautz Creek trail to about 4200 feet, then worked our way up onto the ridge crest SSW of Point 5334, and followed the crest north and up onto Ararat.  There was a packed path for about the first two miles, then we were on our own, but the snow was quite solid and packed down easily under our snowshoes.


Saturday Stats: 5.6 miles, 3820 gain, 260 loss, 5 hours

Ararat Summit Camp

We arrived at about 3:00pm, which gave us hours of time to watch the glowing procession of afternoon to evening to night.  Right in front of us, Rainier provided a relatively adequate canvas for the flow of light and colors.


For the rest of the evening, I didn't get any further photos of camp or people, because my camera was occupied on its jury-rigged mount, taking periodic photos of Rainer.

It was a wonderful evening.  Exceptionally calm and warm weather.  Perfectly clear skies.  A magnificent mountain.  Great people to share the experience.  Thank you, Dicey, for advocating that we camp on the summit.  And thank you, everyone, for being such fine company.

For our cooking area, we dug a trench and carved out a single long bench facing the mountain, wide enough to fit all eight of us, so we could all sit side by side and watch the view together.   My relaxation was somewhat interrupted by 31 trips to run over and trigger the camera, which was mounted about 60 feet away.

Off in other directions, there were also nice evening views of Adams & St. Helen's.  To one side of Rainier, a single cloud caught the evening colors, and later glowed noctilucent in the moonlight.  The moon was bright enough to cast sharp shadows onto the snow.  After dark, we could occasionally see a couple of headlamps at Camp Muir.   

So we spent several comfortable hours enjoying the evening, cooking dinner, and melting many pots full of snow.  A wide selection of beverages were available.  Others shared whiskey, amaretto, rum, wine, & Bailey's.  My beverages were Earl Grey, hot chocolate, and Constant Comment. 

Even a fine view can only occupy so much of a 15-hour night, so we were all in bed by about 8pm.


Sunday

I also got up a few times during the night, to see how the moon & stars lit the mountain.


Our neighborhood loop led us out to Pyramid, then over the tops of Copper & Iron, with an optional side trip to Satulick for a couple of us.


Pyramid Peak, 6937 feet, 497P

We headed out of camp in the pre-dawn light at about 7:15am.  We went down to the cabin at Indian Henry's at 5340 feet, then up to the Pyramid-Copper saddle. 


Then we angled upward to hit the south ridge of the peak at about 6500 feet.  We had started early for fear that later sun would soften the snow too much and create an avalanche hazard.  Instead we hit the opposite problem.  The snow on the upper peak was a hard crust that even crampons were barely kicking into.  Because of the exposure to a long slide if one slipped, half of the group decided to head back for nicer terrain, while the other half continued to the summit.


At least the summit of Pyramid was flat, providing a grand view up Success Cleaver to Point Success on Mt. Rainier.


Going back down, I paused a few times to admire the sharp edge of the ridge.  On a brief section where it was almost level, you could walk the arete, with a foot on hard crust on one side and he other foot in packed powder on the other side.


Copper Mountain, 6280 feet, 280P

As we descended Pyramid, we could see the rest of the peaks laid out ahead of us.  We could even see the other four members of our group hiking toward Copper, and faintly see our tents two miles away on Ararat.  I was also glad not to be in the lowland fog that we could see still persisting far to the west.  Check the full-size version of the photo below for some of those details.


The others had made a fine path for us from the col up Copper's north ridge to its summit.  We found everyone relaxing in the sun there.  Unfortunately, the view was the same peak, just like Ararat & Pyramid, Mt. Rainier again.  How monotonous! 



Iron Mountain, 6283 feet, 683P

We continued right over the top of Copper and headed down its south ridge to the Copper-Iron Col.  The last bit to get off the ridge and onto the west slope of the col was a bit steep and required switching from snowshoes to boots.  Then the traverse below the col had enough crust to require switching to crampons, so Sadie's Driver, Middle E, BarbE, and Schmidt Altibabe decided to head back to Ararat.  The rest of us continued up the west edge of the north ridge of Iron.  The travel actually became much easier as we went up.  Unlike Pyramid, the crust here was soft enough to break through, and Gabriel made nice deep stairsteps up to the top.


Unfortunately, Iron got short shrift for photos.  It had a very wide summit plateau, and we all walked out to the lower south end to look over the edge.  Then we decided that the terrain looked passable, and we could traverse over Iron as well.  So we continued that way, and I never made it back up to the top edge for any photos looking out toward Copper or down toward Indian Henry's.  Not even any summit tea.


Satulick Mountain, 5557 feet, 297P

We descended west from Iron to the headwaters of Devils Dream Creek, and then our group split again.  I wanted to traverse over to the summit of Satulick Mountain, and Gabriel graciously agreed to accompany me.  (Yes, I know that Satulick, like Copper, doesn't have 400 feet of prominence, but I like to check out named peaks, and it does stand out prominently on the end of its ridge, over two thousand feet above Pyramid Creek.)  Given its lack of 400P and its treed summit, Dicey named it "Silly Mountain," and she and Lindsay headed back to camp.

The short day was passing quickly, so we had to hurry to get to Satulick and back.  On the way to Satulick, we travesed circa 5200 feet in the valley, and then went up at the last col before the summit.  I paused briefly for the last bit of my summit tea, and we were off again.

Going back, we were able to follow the ridge crest right up onto Ararat.  In fact, a good loop trip might have been to bring our packs down toward Indian Henry's in the morning, and then take the Wonderland Trail below Satulick down to Rampart Ridge and Longmire.


Ararat Neighborhood Loop stats:  8.2 miles, 3820 gain & loss, 8:30 hours

Ararat to Kautz Creek Trailhead

We returned to camp about 4pm, and packed up as the sun again colored the mountain.  I quickly cooked one last package of ramens while I packed.  Mmm, warm and yummy.

The sun set while we hiked out, providing a rich display of colors on the snow.


After the sun dropped below the horizon, the glowing sky tinted the snow to a faint lavender color underfoot as we hiked onward.  From atop Point 5334, we had a last view of the afterglow casting subtle tones shading from deep blue through pale pink across the ridges and peaks.


Diamonds in the Snow

At Kautz Creek, we enjoyed one final treat.  The snowdrifts were covered with hoarfrost, which had sparkled and tinkled as we walked through them on our approach yesterday morning.  Now the big crystals caught the moonlight.  Not everywhere, but just in a few places where a crystal facet would align to reflect the moon.  So as we walked, bright flashes sparkled on and off like diamonds in the snow. 


We arrived back at the car at 8pm, finding our group had maintained exact one-hour intervals, with the other two groups arriving back at 6pm and 7pm.

Ararat exit stats:  5.6 miles, 260 gain, 3820 loss, 3:20 hours
Total trip stats:  19.4 miles, 7900 gain.


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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Jim Dockery
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:55 am   
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You guys come up with some cool trips. Great TR and pics as usual, esp. the animated first and last shots  up.gif up.gif

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John Morrow
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:00 am   
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Ditto that!  Thanks for all the great shots, good perspective of potential skiing in the area.  The door of the Ranger Patrol Cabin didn't just happen to be open by any chance for some responsible squatting????  Window?  A world class hut trip that would be!

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
― MLK Jr.
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Don
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:22 am   
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Looks like an excellent trip, Matt!  Interesting that you chose Kautz Creek for your approach - you have my attention.  I've only approached Indian Henry's from Rampart Ridge in winter due to avy concerns.  It's a pretty straight forward route, but I'm sure Kautz is quicker - even with the variation at the end.  Time to get my maps out!

Looks like a fun time for all.  And how can you beat that view?

Don

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John Morrow
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:29 am   
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Don wrote:
Looks like an excellent trip, Matt!  Interesting that you chose Kautz Creek for your approach - you have my attention.  I've only approached Indian Henry's from Rampart Ridge in winter due to avy concerns.  It's a pretty straight forward route, but I'm sure Kautz is quicker - even with the variation at the end.  Time to get my maps out!

Looks like a fun time for all.  And how can you beat that view?

Don

Quick question:
How does either route cross kautz creek in winter, foot log?
Thanks,
John

--------------
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”-Mary Oliver

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
― MLK Jr.
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Don
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:01 am   
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John Morrow wrote:
Quick question:
How does either route cross kautz creek in winter, foot log?
Thanks,
John

Correct.

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dicey
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:37 am   
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John Morrow wrote:
The door of the Ranger Patrol Cabin didn't just happen to be open by any chance for some responsible squatting????  Window?  A world class hut trip that would be!

Indeed it would.  Alas, all windows and doors were shuttered and padlocked frown.gif

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I'm not always sure I like being older but being less stupid has advantages.
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Stefan
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:03 am   
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that looks awesome!  Great pics!  cant wait for more!

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Magellan
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:13 am   
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What a sweet trip.  up.gif  up.gif  Great pictures Matt! I have eyed Pyramid as a winter trip many times while driving towards Paradise.  Alas, I settled for a late summer stroll instead.  You guys are living the dream.
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silence
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:26 am   
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a most excellent trip .. we've always wanted to get back there in the middle of winter .. now we want to do it even more!!!

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wolffie
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:38 am   
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Thats's beautiful.  I'll have to go there as soon as I perfect the solar recharger for my dog cloaking device.  It eats a lot of power.

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Some have better things to do than walking the dog.   Some don't.
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Ingunn
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:44 am   
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Aaah, wonderful! Please post the rest of the report asap, or I'll crash the whole website by clicking refresh 4385 times.

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MtnManic
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:56 am   
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Mmmm, wish I were there.  But almost as good - reading this report and seeing your great photos.

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Backpacking: limited to one pack at a time.  Cameras: limited to as many as I can carry.
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puzzlr
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:51 am   
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Ridiculously cool!
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Snowdog
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Post Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:04 pm   
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great TR Matt! I guess I need to look into this dog cloaking device mentioned above. tongue.gif
Love the interactive pics- sorry to have missed-

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'we don't have time for a shortcut'
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