Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mount Constance 9/15-9/17/2006

Our team of five hiked to Lake Constance along one of the steepest trails in Washington's Olympic National Park (ONP). We base camped near the lake then, the following morning, attempted to summit Mount Constance via the South Chute in Avalanche Canyon. This three day backpacking trip resulted in a complex mixture of joy, awe, misery, triumph, astonishment, and accomplishment - all necessary ingredients for a truly memorable adventure.

We survived the summit attempt nearly unscathed. Crushed/cut fingers, bruises, scratches, back & PFL strains were overcome without complaint.

Survival was indeed the theme for this adventure - surviving the gnarly, root-grabbing, hands & knees approach to Lake Constance, establishing base camp while assaulted with hail and rain showers, testing our knowledge by administering a survival IQ test (our outdoors skills are "dialed" but we need help driving), hopping between truck-sized boulders while maintaining our balance amongst acres of rock, and dodging more granite than I care to document while ascending talus fields which comprise the South Chute.

The scenery was awesome and wild. As you will see in the pictures below, Avalanche Canyon is truly a special place, as are the South Chute of Mt. Constance, and Lake Constance below. Alpine wilderness such as this can be fully experienced by those willing to endure and appreciate the tests and trials of stamina, while appreciating small triumphs of accomplishment, and the grandness of their surroundings.

The trip pictures below capture a few of the scenic features mentioned above.

Note on picture size: Click on picture for a LARGER view.

Trailside Waterfall Posted by Picasa

Trail To Constance Lake Posted by Picasa

Trailside View Posted by Picasa

Lake Constance Posted by Picasa

Lake Constance Posted by Picasa

View From Lake Posted by Picasa

Gnarly Rock In Canyon Posted by Picasa

Trekking Through Avalanche Canyon Posted by Picasa

Avalanche Canyon & Crystal Pass Posted by Picasa

South Chute Posted by Picasa

South Chute Closeup Posted by Picasa

Climbing the Chute Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ice Lakes

Today I returned from a 4-day backpack into the Glacier Peak Wilderness area, about 40 miles north of Leavenworth, WA. I joined a party of ten other mountaineers and fisherman, backpacking into Leroy Basin and establishing a base camp.

Our agenda was simple - enjoy the vast, wild, and remote wilderness with gusto, amongst good company. Mission Accomplished.

While some fished Upper Ice Lake (15 fish caught), climbed remote Entiat Mountain passes, and took icy dips in glacially cold alpine resevoirs, I (& others) climbed Mount Maude (9082'), then climbed Seven Fingered Jack (9200'), and speculated upon climbing a future route up Mount Fernow (9249').

The scenery was as breathtaking as the terrain was rugged. The hike from base camp to Ice Lakes alone was certainly no cake walk, requiring the crossing of a deep glacial runoff trench, several Talus fields, and ascension of a high mountain pass. The Seven Fingered Jack climb was rife with steep, shifting Talus fields which we gingerly traversed, attempting to avoid dislodging car-tire sized granite rocks which would imperil climbers below. The terrain for the Mount Maude approach was nearly as rugged, yet different.

The fishing, hunting, and mountaineering stories shared amongst this crew were priceless and, well... you just had to be there to appreciate them.

The trip pictures below capture a few of the scenic features mentioned above.

Note on picture size: Click on picture for a LARGER view.

Camping In Leroy Basin Posted by Picasa

Leroy Basin With 7 Fingered Jack & Mt Maude in Background Posted by Picasa

Upper Ice Lake Posted by Picasa

Mt Maude (West Side) Posted by Picasa

Mt. Maude (Closeup) Posted by Picasa

Mt Maude Summit (9082 ft) Posted by Picasa

Jack's Seventh Finger Posted by Picasa

View From Mt Maude Posted by Picasa

An Entiat Range Glacier Posted by Picasa

Fire Southeast of Entiat Range Posted by Picasa

Seven Fingered Jack (West Side) Posted by Picasa

Seven Fingered Jack (East Side) Posted by Picasa

Seven Finger Jack Summit (9100 ft) Posted by Picasa

The following pictures are of mountain peaks west of our base camp.

Glacier Peak Posted by Picasa

Buck Mtn Posted by Picasa

Red Mtn Posted by Picasa