Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mount Washington-Olympic Nat'l Forest (6/03/06)

Taking advantage of some fine weather today, nine Kitsap climbers (including myself), step-kicked our way up "route 1", a steep climb up Mount Washington (6255 ft) in the Olympic National Forest.

We ascended to about the halfway point on the mountain (~5000 ft), and waited for two of our team to catch up. After enjoying the view from this rest point for some time (see pictures below), it became apparent that descending to join our fellow climbers was the best course of action.

On the descent, seven of us fanned out to perform a gridded search for the remaining two climbers. We joined up with them quite some distance back down the mountain, and all returned to the trailhead nearly unscathed.

It so happens that the descent presented the most challenging obstacles and hazards of this climb. We fanned-out into approximately four groups on descent, each group encountering different hazards and covering ground not normally tread.

As fortune would designate, Jerry, Ron, and myself descended a steep snow-covered creek, our boots periodically punching through the creek's thin snow covering while we managed to mostly stay atop the snowy surface and out of the ice-cold water running directly beneath us. We avoided dropping off of the creek's waterfall into a large hole by, well, just deciding not to go there. Instead, under John W's watchfull eye, we spotted a better line of descent with good snow and no creek/waterfall, then traversed/bushwacked over to it.

Taking yet another descent route, Cheryl and Willie negotiated a moat-filled slope. Slipping, then self arresting, Cheryl punched through a thin snow covering into a deep hole and twisted her ankle. Still relatively high on the mountain, Cheryl was able to descend unassisted - very impressive. I'm sure the sage advice she received from other climber's will contribute to her future quick recovery :-).

This was an interesting climb, casualties aside, which I view as reconnaissance for an inevitable return to the mountain - I am anxious to return and ascend Mount Washington's summit.

The pictures below depict a small portion of the approach, the climb, and views from our half-way point turnaround.

Note: Click picture for LARGER view.

Approach To Mt Washington Posted by Picasa

Kitsap Climber on Mt Washington Posted by Picasa

View Halfway Up Mountain Posted by Picasa

View Halfway Up Mountain2 Posted by Picasa

View Halfway Up Mountain3 Posted by Picasa

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