Forum Index > Trip Reports > Snowking Mountain - Kindy Ridge - May 26-27, 2020
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awilsondc
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 3:57 pm 
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I started getting the itch to visit Snowking last year, but I couldn't make it happen so it was at the top of my list for this year.  I had some time off around Memorial Day weekend and the forecast was predictably moody, but it did present a weather window on the last two days of my time off.  I set a 3:30 alarm but didn't get much sleep, probably anxious/ excited about the trip. After some preparations and the long drive for me I was at the trailhead and hiking by 8:51.  I should mention that I parked .2 miles short of the trailhead at a section of road that had a significant stream cutting through it.  It wasn't very deep and I probably could have just driven across (I'd guess 80% chance I could have made it across in my Outback with no problem) but at the cost of an extra 5 minutes walking each way I decided not to risk it and parked here.  Soon I was on my way.

The first 2-3 miles is along an abandoned logging road that is getting seriously overgrown.  My inspiration for this trip came from B00's report a few years ago, but it was Jeff's trip report on peakbagger that really saved my butt here.  He mentioned the road getting over grown and recommend hiking in rain gear if the brush was wet.  Well it had been raining for a couple days straight, including on my drive in so I was prepared.  It wasn't bad at first but soon got really brushy and I broke out the rain pants.  Great idea!  Unfortunately my mountaineering boots aren't waterproof anymore and within 15 minutes my left foot was completely soaked but my right foot was only moderately wet.  I was just going to have to deal with it until I got to the end of the brush.  There was a creek crossing I missed initially before finding the crossing.  It sprinkled on me on and off, and the trail was a lovely wet, foggy, moody experience.  There were several creek crossings, including a large bridge that has partially collapsed in the last couple years.  This section is going to get real interesting when it finally goes.  After an hour plus I was at the end of the abandoned logging road.  I stopped to pour the water out of my boots and wring out my socks before heading up the steep trail into the forest.

Road Washout
Road Washout
Overgrown logging road
Overgrown logging road
Creek crossing
Creek crossing
Fern
Fern
Gentle cascade
Gentle cascade
Collapsing bridge
Collapsing bridge
Foliage
Foliage
Stick figure
Stick figure
Trail haze
Trail haze
Hidden cascade
Hidden cascade
End of the abandoned road / camp area
End of the abandoned road / camp area

The first 1500 ft is steep!  Kinda like the mailbox old trail... Around 4000 ft the terrain mellows out a bit.  This is also where snow became continuous for the remainder of the trip.  I must say this part of the trail would have been incredibly difficult to navigate without GPS, and I was grateful for GPS technology.  Up and up I went, through the fog, through the mist in the cold dark wet of the forest.  Quiet, still, and alone, it was a bit eerie at times.  I made regular GPS checks to correct my course when I strayed from the GPS tracks I was following.  The snow was wonderfully consolidated with solid predictable footing which I was incredibly thankful for.  There was one section of somewhat steep side hill traversing before reaching the saddle above Found Lake.  I took a break here, and the constant cloud cover did too with some sun breaks piercing the veil of fog.  After some food I started up to the first peak of the day, Found Peak.

The Root
The Root
Steep trail
Steep trail
Snow started ~4000 ft
Snow started ~4000 ft
Into the fog, into the mist
Into the fog, into the mist
Growing up in the shadow of giants
Growing up in the shadow of giants

Part way up Found Peak the sun breaks became more and more frequent, giving way to blue sunny skies above.  The storm system was clearing.  Soon I got my first views of my objective, Snowking!  It was an inspiring sight, but it looked so far away.  No matter... I literally had all day.  I didn't spend much time on Found, but departed for the first of several ups and downs on the ridge around the lakes.  The lakes, by the way, were nowhere near melting out and barely had any blue around the edges.  Still a lot of snow up there, up to 8 feet deep in spots but plenty of post hole opportunities as well.  Up and down the route went around Found Lake, then around Cyclone lake.  I chose a couple interesting descent lines and generally followed the path of least resistance until I found myself at the base of the final uphill section, 1800 vertical feet to go.  I was getting tired, and the last bit was a slog but in the best way possible.  I was tired but settled into a rhythm where I felt pretty good.  I kept a steady pace, my breath matching the push of my legs.  A cleansing wind ebbed and flowed as I made steady progress in a semi meditative state.  It felt so good to be climbing a mountain!  Before long I had reached the 6300 ft bench where many parties set up camp.  I had run out of water at this point so I stopped to melt snow for water, have a snack, and ponder my options.

Sun begins to emerge
Sun begins to emerge
Decorative
Decorative
Snowking shows himself
Snowking shows himself
Snowking from Found Peak
Snowking from Found Peak
Frozen Lake
Frozen Lake
Cyclone Lake
Cyclone Lake
Island
Island
Snowking parting a sea of clouds
Snowking parting a sea of clouds
Onward!
Onward!
Selfie near Found Peak
Selfie near Found Peak

It was only around 4pm by this point and I had plenty of daylight.  I considered setting camp here, but the summit beckoned.  I had read in B00's report that a summit bivy was a bad idea, but I was willing to drag all my stuff up there and see for myself.  I figured worst case I'd watch the sunset up there and hike back to this spot in the dark if I had to.  After refilling my water I set off to the summit.  The final 1100 ft of gain was once again a slog.  At this point the snow was getting softer, but I still didn't sink past the toe laces of my boots very often.  The whole hike up, there were clouds blowing over the top of Snowking. Sometimes I was in shadows and sometimes sun.  A couple hundred feet below the summit, I reached a shoulder with incredible views of Chaval and the Middle and West summits of Snowking coming into view.  The summit block was in sight and I stayed on snow for a bit, then transitioned to talus scrambling to the summit which I made just before 6pm, about 9 hours from the car.  The views were good for a bit, but soon clouded over.  The summit was not a good place for a bivy without some very creative rock moving and bivy building which I wasn't going to do.  I had seen a flat spot in the snow about 150 ft below the summit and decided I'd stay on the summit for sunset and head down to that spot after the show was over.  I settled in and had some tea and some whiskey, waiting for the clouds to clear.  I had no idea the show that was in store for me.

A view from a slog
A view from a slog
Mutchler
Mutchler
Only 1k of gain to go!
Only 1k of gain to go!
Looking back at Cyclone Lake
Looking back at Cyclone Lake
Snowking middle and west peaks
Snowking middle and west peaks
Summit block
Summit block
Chaval, lookin' all bad ass over there
Chaval, lookin' all bad ass over there
Lakes
Lakes
Clouds descend
Clouds descend

They say the best sunsets are right before or right after a storm.  I had a great one last year right after a storm, but this one was even better.  The clouds began to lift with yellow tones of the sun catching the jagged snaking ridge leading to the south peak of Snowking.  Clouds swirled around the middle and west peaks catching orange and later pink light when the sun found a gap in the clouds.  As the sun got lower it began to light up the underside of the clouds to wonderful effect.  It was a joy to spend several hours up there taking photos and enjoying the moment.  Despite several epic photos, my enduring memory will be the movement of the clouds.  The swirling and changing shapes, the light coming and going through breaks in the clouds... these things can't be adequately captured in a still image but suffice it to say it was incredible.  I stayed well into blue hour, which was also amazing, before heading down to set up my bivy.  By the time I got down to my spot the snow was already frozen solid.  I had to stomp and kick / scrape out a flat spot but it worked out just fine.  I set up an alarm for astro photography and got up after a meager 2 hours of sleep.

Clouds begin to clear
Clouds begin to clear
Summit panorama
Summit panorama
Let the show begin!
Let the show begin!
Isolated light
Isolated light
Clouds blowing through
Clouds blowing through
Standing tall among the clouds
Standing tall among the clouds
Buckindy
Buckindy
Lots of variations of this were seen
Lots of variations of this were seen
Baker makes an appearance
Baker makes an appearance
Ethereal
Ethereal
Upside down heart rock
Upside down heart rock
Sunset from the summit
Sunset from the summit
Down lit clouds below Chaval
Down lit clouds below Chaval
Last on the sun
Last on the sun
Afterburn
Afterburn
Glacier Peak shows up
Glacier Peak shows up
Blue hour from the summit
Blue hour from the summit
Baker finally visible
Baker finally visible
Time to descend
Time to descend
Bivy
Bivy

The stars were out and they were awesome!  I spent an hour taking photos before heading back to my bivy.  My feet were freezing.  I had slept with my boots on the first time to avoid my soaking wet boots freezing, but after an hour out in the middle of the night my toes were super cold.  I took my boots off and threw a chemical hand warmers in the toe of each boot hoping it would help and they might not be so miserable in the morning.  I dozed off to sleep with an alarm set for sunrise, another meager 2 hours of sleep later it rang.  I popped my head out of my bivy and while it was cool, it wasn't inspiring enough to get up quite yet.  I rested for another hour before getting up.

Night time, on Snowking Mountain
Night time, on Snowking Mountain
Milky Way over my bivy
Milky Way over my bivy
Summit block at night
Summit block at night
Ridge to the S summit, Glacier peak, Milky Way
Ridge to the S summit, Glacier peak, Milky Way
Sunrise
Sunrise

Indeed, my boots were frozen and very difficult to get on, but the hand warmers had kept the toes a decent temperature and they weren't totally miserable.  The snow was frozen solid and I was glad I had brought crampons and an axe.  After breakfast I packed up and headed down.  It was a bluebird day and the 1000 ft down from my bivy was a joy, slowly descending while looking out at the peaks that were largely cloud covered the day before.  I didn't take many pictures on the way down and basically retraced my steps.  Shortly before the snow ran out, I postholed and in trying to keep my balance one of my trekking poles snapped in half.  I had those poles for maybe 15 years, they were great.  Time for some new ones.  I think it took 5 1/2 hours back to the car, with a few breaks.  Great frickin trip, stoked to have this one in the bag!

Clear views in the monrning
Clear views in the monrning
Back down past Cyclone Lake
Back down past Cyclone Lake
When I saw this from the summit I thought it was a tent and a person
When I saw this from the summit I thought it was a tent and a person
Last view of Mutchler
Last view of Mutchler
Found Peak, again
Found Peak, again
Found Peak canyon
Found Peak canyon
Looking back up the canyon
Looking back up the canyon
Last view of the mountains
Last view of the mountains
Back on the abandoned road
Back on the abandoned road
Stream under the collapsing bridge
Stream under the collapsing bridge
A clearer part of the old road
A clearer part of the old road
Final bit back to my car
Final bit back to my car

~19 miles and elevation gain in the low to mid 8000's
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Alden Ryno
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 4:20 pm 
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Woooow. So many incredible shots, Aaron!
The clearing just as night came was a just reward for slogging in soggy weather.
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Foist
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 4:49 pm 
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You are a hardy fellow.  Awesome photos and thanks for posting.
Wow, that bridge has gotten WAY more slumped since I was there on Labor Day Wkd in 2018.  It was only a bit askew then.  It's a shame, I don't foresee a new one getting built since this trail is unofficial and not maintained.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 6:55 pm 
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Aaron, I've always believed 'go until there is a very good reason to turn around' and you did just that by not believing a bit of stormy weather  is necessarily a ' very good reason.'
Your persistence in both this trip and your Colonial climb paid off royally.
When I climbed Snowking probably ten years ago I thought how nice that road would have been on a bike. Not so much now with ten years of sapling growth on the  roadbed!

With mucho snow you probably missed 'the gap.' Here is my comment regarding it from an earlier trip report by bluebird:
"That gap is an interesting geologic feature. I think it is a large joint ( crack, like a fault but without differential movement on opposite sides). I was too preoccupied with the long ridge and its many ups and downs to give it a better examination, but it shows clearly on Google Earth. It is one of a pair of parallel twin cracks on that part of Kindy Ridge. #googleearth https://earth.app.goo.gl/vvjvkm

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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RossJames
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 7:52 pm 
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Yes, so many good shots! The blue hour and night shots are where it's at, and you captured them well!
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Bootpathguy
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 9:05 pm 
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awilsondc wrote:
The Root
The Root

Fantastic capture! I love this image!

biggrin.gif  biggrin.gif  biggrin.gif  up.gif

Great eye Aaron

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Experience is what'cha get, when you get what'cha don't want
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FiresideChats
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 9:07 pm 
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Well played! Stunning sky shots and that Mutchler cirque full of snow. Thanks for sharing.
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Nancyann
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PostWed Jun 03, 2020 9:24 pm 
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Exquisite, spectacular photos! Great effort Aaron, thanks for sharing!
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neek
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PostThu Jun 04, 2020 8:43 am 
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Once again your perseverance payed off.  Thanks for sacrificing your sleep schedule to bring us these fabulous shots!  Going to have to try that route some day, it's pretty much like climbing a different mountain compared to the other side (which is also worthwhile).
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silence
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PostThu Jun 04, 2020 4:20 pm 
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Wow! Wonderful ... best trip and photos I've ever seen from this climb! Way to go.   up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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ozzy
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PostThu Jun 04, 2020 4:50 pm 
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borank.gif damn man!! The pics are amazing and I'm sure they don't do it justice! Cool to see what the place looks like when not blanketed in smoke like the time I was there dizzy.gif still fun though! I like your style dood! Cheers!

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Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer. -Arnold
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Cyclopath
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PostThu Jun 04, 2020 6:33 pm 
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Fantastic Milky Way photos!
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MangyMarmot
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PostThu Jun 04, 2020 6:39 pm 
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Awesome photos. Cool trip!
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awilsondc
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PostThu Jun 04, 2020 7:51 pm 
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Thank you for the kind words everyone!  I really put a lot of time into this particular report, but it was a labor of love.  It's tough to whittle down 643 photos into a reasonable amount for a trip report, and I included a couple dozen more than usual but I couldn't help myself.  smile.gif

Brushbuffalo - "the gap" indeed was covered by snow.  That would have been cool to see!  Very interesting geology up there on Found Peak...  Here's bluebird's shot:
Bluebird wrote:

Bootpathguy - Thanks man, that was right away one of my favorite shots from this trip.  I'm glad you dig it!

Neek - I definitely considered your route, but the lure of the trail and the certainty of the camp area at 6300ft were the deciding factors, not knowing if a summit bivy was gonna work or not (which I guess it really didn't).  But you're right, looking at your report it's completely different scenery!
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Kenji
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PostThu Jun 04, 2020 11:07 pm 
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Great shots, Aaron  up.gif

That bridge looked fine just 5 years ago:
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Snowking Mountain - Kindy Ridge - May 26-27, 2020
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