|Copyright: Joshua Lewis (JoshLewis)
|Date Taken: 2010-02-28|
|Categories: Mountain, Sky|
|Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30|
|Exposure: f/7.1, 1/500 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2010-04-09 21:57|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This photo was taken most of the way up Middle Chiwaukum, if you notice the ridge has a cornice so we had to be careful.|
Getting the trip organized was a hassile! At first we all wanted to do Eldorado Peak, but the avalanche danger looked a bit too high, so then we considered Ruby, but even Ruby seemed a bit dangerous at this time of year. After going back and forth between idea's EastKing stepped in and said "Ok, I'm getting sick of this, I say we go with my original idea of Middle Chiwaukum", which at this point we all agreed because it seemed decently safe sounding and decent. Great call by the way. On this trip the people who came were Gimpilator, EastKing, Michael, Robin, and I. The night before we left was very beautiful with the sunset clouds, and later mood lit clouds that were fast moving.
When I set out to go to bed I thought I set my alarm clock because it had the light indicating that I did, perhaps I made a mistake. At 4:32 a.m. my brother rushes in my room telling me we gotta get ready! I was in a panic, I meant to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and now had less than 15 minutes to change my clothes, get all my water, gather all my food and get the rest of my gear together. After rushing to grab everything last second, fortunatly I make it in time without forgeting anything, except for breakfast... fortunatly I had some food later to make up for this.
Gimpilator picked us up in Robin's car and we headed for Middle Chiwaukum. After turning off of highway 2 we were a bit worried about the snow on the ground because not only could it potentially be slick, but we would hear scraping on the bottom of the car because it was low clearance. Fortunatly no damage and we got to the turn around ok.
The hike started out on the flat road which went 2.5 miles or so in snow. After this we began to head right up the mountain from the summer trailhead. We put on crampons although after a little while one of mine fell off so I put away and stayed with one. Everyone had a good pace going up. Soon we had to start using snow shoes, so I was breaking trail at this part, although Michael broke trail as well for a while. I began to feel a little weak perhaps from not having breakfast, but once the group stopped to eat, I felt much better.
After a while I started to get tired and let Gimpilator break trail for us which was a relief. One thing about already doing most of the route is that you know how long each part is, in a sense the knowledge makes the trip feel longer because you anticipate whats ahead. The sun finally had an appearance, unfortunatly my glacier glasses kept fogging up, and I would have troubles with the strap so I would decide to wear none, although then my eyes would hurt and I would have to squint. After a little while Michael was generous and let me use his, Gimpilator had a rigged pair of eye cover ups, which broke about an hour later.
Once again the summit comes into view and intimidates me. We originally planned to the pass bypassing the high point saving us effort and time, but we found that it would be dangerous to traverse the slope due to avalanche danger. Gimpilator decided to go up to the high point and see from there, by now we all were questioning wether or not we would make the summit, we almost turned around, although Robin did turn around at this point and waited for us until we got back a long time later.
Getting out your ice axe on a step section I realized was a bit worrysome, as I dig into my pack, I almost loose my footing which gives me a bit of a scare. Once I got my ice axe I felt better, although did not like the ice under the snow. Once past the false summit I felt much safer, ditched my ski polls and Gimpilator and me headed for the acual summit. At what appeared to be a pass between the false and real summit we finally saw EastKing catching up. The snow formations up here were very unique, almost unreal seeming. Once EastKing caught up we all headed up for the summit and wondered if Michael was going to because he stopped way behind.
Once we got to the big mound we also ditched our snowshoes because it would be much too dangerous to wear up on the ridge, even if it were deep snow. The ridge reminded me of the ridge on Eldorado and had us on our toes. Both sides were steep and at first I was questioning if it were even possible, Gimpilator was leading the way. In a sense it was a good thing it was a ridge because it lowered avalanche danger, from a distance the summit seems dangerous. Another worry was the cornice on the summit, I feared that we might get 15 feet short, but Gimpilator always made sure that his ice axe could hit rock.
After we got off the main ridge the last 100 feet was a walk up until we got on the summit! The view was incredible, one of the best I have seen this year (Already this year I have seen some pretty intense mountain views). We took a few photos and then headed down. We acually did not have to down climb the ridge to my amazement. Once we got off the ridge and got to the pass, my tiredness was finally catching up to me. Going back up to the false summit was very tiresome, I had a bit of a pounding headache and was running low on water, glad I had some salts. After the false summit we took off our crampons back to snow shoes, by this point I felt like I could fly down the mountain. The funny part was after putting on some sunscreen, I found my other pair of glasses in my pack!
On the way down I had some stumble moments, a few glassades and some nice conversations. There were some tree bombs, which are when trees dump a lot of snow off of them so we had to be careful when below trees. Later as it got dark Eastking had a little trouble because he was very tired, and the stumbling drained him even more so I stayed back with his, although by accident got us both off route at the end, but was ok because we got to the road anyways. I believe he was feeling the same way I was the last time I was here and seeing things. I'll admit on this trip one of the scariest parts for me was when I saw a tree stump in front of me and I thought it was someone creeping up on us.
The road walk felt like a long time as they always do on the way down. Once we got to the car I was relieved that everyone made it down safe and we all had a blast! I don't think we could have picked a better peak with the given conditions. Special Thanks to Everyone who came, Robin for the car ride and good conversations (and the cookies), Eastking for choosing the place and being a good member of the group, Michael for helping break trail and letting me use your sun glasses, Gimpilator for driving and navigating the route. We all did good, and am excited for our future trips!
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