Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Index Hourglass Gully March 2-3, 2019
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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



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PostMon Mar 04, 2019 12:53 pm 
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Chris and I were throwing around a bunch of ideas of what to climb for the beautiful weather weekend we were about to have on Friday; ideas including the triple couloirs on Dragontail, Gibralter Ledges on Rainier, and Mount Index. With the weather looking best around Mount Index, and since I already have an attempt on Index in winter back in 2013 giving me familiarity with the route, we decided to give Index an attempt. We had been climbing ice at Banks Lake and Vantage the previous few days and wanted a big alpine objective to finish off the trip. On Saturday morning we got all our gear together in my van and packed up our packs and around 1pm started up the Lake Serene Trail, which was quite packed down due to the many hikers that were walking the trail this weekend. Complete with what felt like 40 pound packs (winter camping gear mostly) we made our way to the lake. We ran into at least a few dozen people hiking down and were amazed at the amount of people going winter hiking!

After a couple hours we made the lake and threw the snowshoes on to make our way across the frozen surface, and started our way up towards the 3,080 foot saddle just SE of the lake. The snow was initially not too bad, and with snowshoes we only sunk down a few inches on occasion. We started up the lower east ridge that encircles around the south side of the lake, in a SW direction as the evening went on, hoping to make it to the 3,950 foot flat spot where the ridge terminates into the steep east face of Index. Due to worsening snow conditions, our progress slowed substantially as we began postholing at times to our waist up steep terrain, we located a small flat perch partway up the steep ridge that we could dig out a platform to pitch the tent. We had an incredible view of the north and south Norwegian buttress from this vantage as the sun set. There was ice literally everywhere, and was wishing I had brought more screws. However, we were there to climb index, not put up some first ascents on ice that looked amazing haha. I dug us out a platform, put the tent up and went to sleep.


When the sun rose the next morning, we slowly emerged into the cold, breezy morning and ate a small breakfast that consisted simply of Oreos for myself and started to continue slogging up the now steeper ridge. The worst part of the climb was the next 100 feet above the tent, which took us over an hour to ascend. Chris did a great job of breaking trail up the 60 degree powder covered tree covered rock slabs that required us to excavate, and climb trees to ascend. I was ready to turn back but the hope the snow would improve higher up kept us pushing on. Eventually, we reached the upper part of the ridge where the steepness mellowed out and we could put the snowshoes back on and continue slogging up. At 4000 feet, we started traversing to the left across the open snow slopes, and to our surprise the snow was pretty stable! We rounded a small buttress, then started switchbacking up the open slopes with the snowshoes, eventually aiming for the small constriction midway up the hourglass gully. Chris had been breaking trail much of the way from the tent, so I started breaking trail when we entered the gully, and once we entered the shade where the gully narrowed, we switched our snowshoes for crampons and I finally got out my ice axe. The snow became icier and we made great time up the rest of the gully, which had us climbing some 45 degree neve. It was amazing!


It was a glorious scene when we topped out of the couloir, and we started the now easy walk on firm wind blown snow back to the west on the broad ridge. The air was so clear we could see Seattle, and all of Puget sound to the west, and the Olympics beyond. The final push to the summit involved a sidehill traverse on the south side of the summit rocks and straight up the last 100 feet on 35 degree snow. I honestly couldn't believe we had made it...I do not succeed on winter summits in the Cascades very often, and Index was definitely the biggest winter Cascade peak I have actually topped out on. The weather could not have been any better, and nearly every peak was visible with crystal clear clarity. Rainier, Baker and Glacier Peak were all standing proud, and Stuart was poking above a few clouds off to the east. Definitely worth the effort!


We retraced our steps and downclimbed the route, making one rappel to descend the steep terrain right above the tent. We made it back to the van just as headlight would have been required to see! Thanks Chris for the awesome climb! Some of the photos in this TR were taken by Chris.


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The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
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iron
getting old



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getting old
PostMon Mar 04, 2019 1:52 pm 
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fun looking route!

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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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RichP
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PostMon Mar 04, 2019 2:27 pm 
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Very cool, Matt and Chris.  up.gif

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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IanB
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Vegetable Belayer
PostMon Mar 04, 2019 9:10 pm 
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.                                                smile.gif

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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Nancyann
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PostMon Mar 04, 2019 9:12 pm 
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Congratulations to you both. Great effort and a very nice collection of pictures too!
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Justus S.
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PostTue Mar 05, 2019 1:45 am 
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Nice job!  up.gif  up.gif
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Schroder
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PostTue Mar 05, 2019 9:31 am 
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up.gif Great photos! It looks like you hit perfect conditions - very much like my first time up that gully in 1967.
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Type E
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PostTue Mar 05, 2019 10:24 am 
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Nice work!

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Stefan
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PostTue Mar 05, 2019 12:19 pm 
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Good going you two!

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Art is an adventure.
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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Mid Fork Rocks
PostWed Mar 06, 2019 11:34 am 
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Matt Lemke wrote:

There's the magazine cover!

Thanks for the detailed report and many photos. I've always wondered what this route looks like. I ended up getting up Index from the other side so I dropped plans to go this route. Great work to snag this one in the middle of winter.  up.gif

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Michael Lewis
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Taking a nap
PostWed Mar 06, 2019 5:28 pm 
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Matt Lemke wrote:

Alpine Oreos  cool.gif

This route looks better than I thought. Thanks for sharing Matt!
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wildcat
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PostWed Mar 06, 2019 6:06 pm 
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Happy national Oreo Cookie day (March 6).  Matt, thanks for an amazing summit day and week of climbing.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostWed Mar 06, 2019 6:18 pm 
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Good going, guys!
I had no idea that any area above Lake Serene is as " rolling" as some of your pictures show. From the looks of Index from below, I wouldn't have thought.
I also smiled at your smiling tent!

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Andy D.
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PostThu Mar 07, 2019 9:30 am 
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Wow, impressive effort! Looks like a cool route  up.gif
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raybies
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PostFri Mar 29, 2019 11:27 am 
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Great shots. I've been considering a summit of Index main peak this month, is this doable without climbing gear this time of year? Reading through Beckey's Cascade Alpine Guide  it appears so but would love to hear from someone who's done it.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Index Hourglass Gully March 2-3, 2019
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