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rstoddard24
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rstoddard24
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PostMon Mar 18, 2019 6:46 am 
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Pinnacle Mountain (Chelan) 8400’+

March 15-17, 2019

March 15 – Drive to Entiat Sno-Park, xc ski to Cottonwood Trailhead, snowshoe to Snow Brushy Creek camp

March 16 – Climb Pinnacle, return to camp

March 17 – snowshoe out, ski out, eat Mexican food, drive home

map of route including road ski
map of route including road ski
map of route from camp
map of route from camp

Philip recently returned from Holden and I recently finished my duties as an Outdoors for All instructor so we were able to connect for a winter objective. Thanks to recent reports by Eric G and others for showing that a long road section should not necessarily deter winter summits of big peaks! We chose Pinnacle since it was nice and remote, had relatively avy safe travel options, and the road was groomed regularly (!) so we could cruise to the trailhead on xc skis.

Friday we left Seattle early and were skiing down the Entiat river road from the Sno-park at 9:20am. The sleds worked surprisingly well and we made it the 12.5mi gentle uphill grade in 4.5 hours. We proceeded beyond the trailhead and after 2 tips in 100 ft realized that the usefulness of the sleds had come to an end. And it just seemed silly to ski while carrying snowshoes strapped to our packs so we switched to snowshoes too.

trying to guess the optimum distance
trying to guess the optimum distance
skiing the entiat river road!
skiing the entiat river road!
Entering the burn
Entering the burn
devils smoke stack?
devils smoke stack?
arrived at the TH
arrived at the TH

The snow condition was getting wetter and wetter and our paced slowed. The most dangerous avy slope on the summer approach route is a steep WSW face that the summer trail traverses at 3750’ (E of Myrtle lake). We approached this section in the mid afternoon when loose wet conditions were present, so we elected to take a safer route up around via the Myrtle lake basin (crossing the Entiat river twice). The second crossing involved some fun boulder-ice island hopping with snowshoes  We set up camp near the mouth of the Snow Brushy Creek

Myrtle lake crossing
Myrtle lake crossing
crossing the Entiat River
crossing the Entiat River
will the Hubba hubba survive another year?
will the Hubba hubba survive another year?

We were moving at 5am the next morning under dark skies – there was a cloud layer and the moon had disappeared behind some mountains somewhere. Our route followed the summer trail until 4100’, then climbed the drainage that leads E of pt 5007, then did a rising traverse E of Borealis peak. The snow was mostly breakable crust – but some sections we stayed on top and moved quite fast while others we sunk in deep and were treadmilling, having to really dig deep to keep moving upwards. The N aspects seemed to be quite powdery still but we had very few of those (just creek crossings basically). Soon the false summit came into view

first views of false summit
first views of false summit

The final 1000’ were quite slow – more crusty top with rotten snow underneath lots of effort to move up a single step at times. Once I thought to try booting up without snowshoes but didn’t even make it 10 feet before I was postholing up to my hip and making no upward progress. We finally made it up to the ridge and took snowshoes off and ice axe out for final ridge section – the highlight of the trip due to alpine feel and incredible views all around. Before long we were at the summit cairn of Pinnacle Mountain, looking at some crazy cornices hanging above the overhanging east face!! 5:40 from snow brushy creek camp to summit.

Cardinal group
Cardinal group
surfing wave cornice
surfing wave cornice
overhanging east face!
overhanging east face!
summit!
summit!
Glacier, Entiats, and Bonanza
Glacier, Entiats, and Bonanza

We didn’t stay long since we wanted to get off the upper slopes before the snow softened too much. In the basin below we took a longer break to snack and melt snow. The way down was fast, although would have been faster with skis! We made it back to camp and had plenty of time for sun bathing

just us and our tracks for miles and miles and miles
just us and our tracks for miles and miles and miles
S. Spectacle Butte
S. Spectacle Butte

The next morning we packed up and head out. We traversed the summer trail in the firm pre-dawn snow, and found some large avy debris from some paths that had likely released on fri or sat. Back at the trailhead we packed up our sleds, and began the super fun gradual downhill xc ski to the car! I found it harder to control the sled on the descents, but we still managed to ski out in 3 hours with plenty of snack breaks


What an amazing trip. This was my first winter Top 100 and the deepest I’ve been in the mountains in winter (46 mi round trip). The feeling of wilderness and solitude in winter is remarkable. Thanks to Philip for a fun and safe trip.

If you know of any other winter ascents of Pinnacle let us know.
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Jake Robinson
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Jake Robinson
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PostMon Mar 18, 2019 7:01 am 
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Nice work guys! Great trip idea.
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geyer
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PostMon Mar 18, 2019 8:58 am 
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Wow that's a serious haul! Solid trip
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RichP
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PostMon Mar 18, 2019 6:11 pm 
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I'm looking at some of these to combine the best of snowshoeing and skiing for trips like this.

https://altaiskis.com

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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