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williswall
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Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostWed Nov 20, 2019 11:03 pm 
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Tumtum Peak (4678'/11/19) Success and failure and how to deal. First the success; due to appointments on Thursday and Friday, I only had one good weather day to hike....Wednesday. So I booked down to Rainier on Tuesday to hit Tumtum and Ararat, both accessed off the same trail. Tumtum is not a popular peak so most of my off trail time was finding my own way. Despite a vague description of heading straight up the southern ridge, I found my best line to skirt left of some rocky outcroppings to gain a saddle on the west side, then climb that ridge to the summit. The weather forecast for Tuesday was showers in the morning with sun breaks in the afternoon/evening. I spent the morning in light rain and drizzle but on the descent the sun lit the forest understory for a couple of minutes. "Great, it's going to clear so once I gain the trail I will continue on to Ararat and enjoy late afternoon shots on the summit with the mountain in my face, then regain the trail before it gets dark (4 PM in the forest) and exit via headlamp." Or so I thought. As I gained elevation on the Kautz Creek trail whatever promise of clearing skies disappeared in light rain and fog, with the rain sloshing up the snow above 4700' into a wet glop. I proceeded further to 5100' and saw that Ararat was totally obscured in cloud and it was obvious the drizzle wasn't going to let up. No point in climbing another 1000' to see nothing, so I decided to leave Ararat for another day and returned from whence I came. I had packed proper clothing for the conditions but there's no avoiding getting damp....when I regained my vehicle as it was getting dark at 5 PM I had to peel off the clothing and noted my shoes were soaked, as well as my "waterproof" socks. I blasted the heat while I set up my truck for overnighting, changed clothes, and exited the park to eat dinner at the Copper Creek Inn. Stats: 14.5 miles/5000'

Old growth mossy splendor
Old growth mossy splendor
Mossy outcropping
Mossy outcropping
Majestic giants
Majestic giants
Kautz Creek Trail
Kautz Creek Trail
Kautz Creek old flow
Kautz Creek old flow
Just the bones
Just the bones
Cool trees
Cool trees
Above 4700'
Above 4700'
Flattened foliage
Flattened foliage
Approaching Tumtum peak
Approaching Tumtum peak
Shed Antler
Shed Antler
Tumtum summit
Tumtum summit

Wow Failure (11/20) I stealth camped at Longmire in my truck and got up at 7 AM, noting blessed clear skies. After French toast at the Inn I parked at the entrance to the West Side road, now gated since November 4th. No problem though, my mountain bike (now equipped with a new tube and packed tire repair kit) would easily take me the 1.85 miles up the road to the "X" on the tree that marked the climb to Wow via lake Allen. The weather was glorious and not too cold, and I suffered the steep climb from 2500' to about 4700' above Lake Allen. However, there is a good climbers trail most of the way but it peters out before a traverse to an open meadow. From there I could see my objective, but how to gain the saddle? I decided to bear right up a wash but was stymied by verglas on rock. I carefully made my way left to foliage and found myself struggling with horizontal branches that were nearly impenetrable. Wouldn't you know it, earlier once I had attained the meadow, I took out my DSLR and clipped it on my chest, and now I was struggling with almost impossible foliage with no place to stop and stow the camera in my pack. On top of that, my sunglasses were fogging up but I had no chance to remove them, so bad was the situation. Now to top "on top of that", I had my Whippet with me but in the heat of battle I had somehow left it behind once I extricated myself from that mess. I made a lame attempt to retrieve it but no way was I going to forge back into that crap, so I made up my mind to give up and write off the $100 tool and continue on my way.

Whew....but I decided to continue on because the terrain was opening up and I could see a way to gain the saddle. Unfortunately, I was on steep grassy slopes covered by a thin layer of snow that had softened in the sun. Now I had no way to keep myself from sliding except for my hands and a hope and a prayer. Still I continued on to 5500'. Now I knew I could hit the saddle and proceed right over the ridge to Wow, which was in sight. However, I didn't know the condition of the ridge as to snow coverage. It wasn't quite 1 PM but I considered my options. My whippet was gone, I had no scrambling or climbing aid. I knew that the forest was going to get indistinct and dark by 4 PM, and I was concerned about regaining the steep climbers trail leading to my bike. I was starting to get knackered because of the effort and my advanced age. I'm just months from retirement and my wife has told me "you better not fall off your bike or get seriously injured before we start traveling." These things flitted through my mind over a few seconds as I peered upward, at 5500' elevation....only 500' to go for the summit! Then I looked down the snow covered gully that I needed to descend and decided to bag it....Wow would have to wait for another day, hopefully a longer one. Were this summer the situation would have been totally different.

I started my descent, slipping and sliding on the snow covered grass, trying to determine how I should regain the meadow below. I knew there were some cliff bands I had to avoid, but I did not want to go left to my poorly chosen route on the ascent. I gained a treed area as the snow covered gully looked to get too steep below, but this brought me to the top of a cliff. I could make a traverse to the other side but the rocky gully below me was about 60 degrees and the footing across offered not even a veggie belay. I climbed back up above and proceeded further climbers right and saw my meadow tantalizingly beckoning me from below. There was a short traverse over another not so scary gully that had solid foliage so I veggie belayed across and down climbed to safety. How the hell do people get up here? I'm thinking I should have gone even further climbers left into the trees and ascended there....if anyone can give me some beta please answer here or PM me, I'd appreciate it for my next foray.

Now I just had to find the climbers trail, but luckily I had marked a point on my InReach map and knew where I had to start descending. However, I found myself on a rocky outcrop and knew that I had not come up that way, so I climbed back up and used my GPS to descend what I thought was the proper way. What a relief to come across the climbers trail! I had plenty of good light left and (with quads burning) regained my bike at 2:30. For this once I thought I'd share the difficulties we sometimes find ourselves in and the thought processes involved to aim towards a good outcome. I didn't realize how engrossed in route finding and risk mitigation I was in the thick foliage until I remembered I had a whippet....and had somehow forgotten about it. Stats: 10.3 miles/4500'

"Sun's gettin' low big fella"
"Sun's gettin' low big fella"
God light on the West Side Road
God light on the West Side Road
Half and half
Half and half
Half lit
Half lit
Looking south to Mt Adams
Looking south to Mt Adams
Mt Adams
Mt Adams
Some kinda yellow fungus
Some kinda yellow fungus
The Blob
The Blob
Verticality
Verticality
White walkers
White walkers
Wow in sight
Wow in sight

I've had a good string of successful peak bagging and off trail travel....it takes a day like today to remind me how things can go awry. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

--------------
"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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Brian R
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PostWed Nov 20, 2019 11:18 pm 
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Wow!  smile.gif

That ball-bearing ledge on Wow never fails to scare, the fun stuff is where you were.  Last time I was up TumTum, we did it from Westside Road.  Crossed Tahoma Creek on a nice log, then a steady climb up through the Ewok Forest--much of it spent walking on giant downed trees. Beautiful.  I am really admiring your work!
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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1656 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostWed Nov 20, 2019 11:30 pm 
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Brian R wrote:
That ball-bearing ledge on Wow never fails to scare, the fun stuff is where you were.

So you're saying I was in the proper place and don't have to consider going further climbers left to attain the saddle? I thought that TumTum was the peak in the foreground on the "looking south to Mt. Adams photo but wasn't sure.

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"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

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Brian R
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PostWed Nov 20, 2019 11:42 pm 
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I might have crossed my language above. On Wow, take the climbers path to Lake Allen, then follow the inflow drainage directly toward the peak--as in your photo. But before the drainage starts to narrow, go hard left into a very steep forest where you'll find various boot/game trails that lead to upper meadows maybe 800 feet higher. From here, medium steep to the saddle.

Yes, that's TumTum in your Looking South photo. I hear some of the guides were known to decorate the top with Christmas ornaments back in the day.
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edeezy
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PostThu Nov 21, 2019 8:08 am 
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I never made it up Wow but my knees are cringing just thinking of going up to Lake Allen again.
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