All Tyed Up With Bad Weather
All Tyed Up With Bad Weather
This has not been a December to remember. The weather here in the Pacific Northwest has been very poor, I have been working 90 hours a week at all hours of the day and on my one or two days off either a terrible storm is coming in or something has happened to the people I want to hike with. For 16 days I have been staring at my passion and have not gone out to do what my true passion and enthusiasm is. I have been all tied up with responsibilities and Christmas shopping and helping others and have not been able to get to the mountains.
Well I had a short day at work so I decided to untie the mountaineer drought on what other peak than Tye Peak. Located just north of Stevens Pass, Tye Peak was originally supposed to be a summit I was going to do in October with my friends Zephyr and Redwic. But due to prior commitment and hazardous terrain we could not attain this summit when we did Skyline Ridge and Sky Mountain. So back I came to try this peak once again. I invited my good friend Josh who has come a long way in a year for his first adventure in a while as well.
The weather forecast was somewhat sketchy and the avalanche forecast was not the greatest but we decided to take a safe shot (turn around at the very first sign of issues) at the peak. We did not have a promising start because it was raining very heavy in Seattle that morning. But once web got towards Monroe it cleared up and there were even the holes in the clouds for good shots of Mount Index and Mount Baring. Unfortunately by the time we hit Stevens Pass it was light snow again. We at first tried an area 3 miles to the east of Stevens Pass but the the area was private and I did not want my car towed so we then went back up and parked at the overflow lot at the Stevens Pass area.
One in the parking area we took the summer dirt road up and although road way all the way of to the cutoff to Lake Skyline. Luckily this trail was all packed down so there was no need from any snowshoes here. If that even the cutoff all the way to the lake was in great condition. Once at the Lake though it up to us to make our own way to Tye Peak. The weather was still sketchy and had it been slightly worse or day would have been done at Lake Skyline.
In summer the traverse over a lower point on Skyline Ridge to Tye Peak would require a very steep bushwhack down to the valley are below or a long steep side traverse past Skyline Peak and Sky Mountain. Due to time constraints the side traverse was not an option so we decided to take a gamble and try to cross the ridge. Josh found a steep but safe treed area for us t descend so Josh slowly lowered himself down. Once he clearly the slope I decided to glissade his path down to a lower slope area. It was about 150 feet but it was still quiet fun. From there Josh and I got a distant view of Tye Peak and decided to head from the gap between Skyline and Tye Peak. We did get a a great benefit from someone else who tried the same route (yet did not summit from what we saw).
Once we hit the gap we knew we had to use caution on the ridge. There were a number of area where if the snow was wrong we could potentially be in danger. We stayed close to the top of the ridge but at least 15 feet from the large cornices on our left hand side. We also did a number of quick avalanche test but the snow luckily on the ridge was very firm and the threat of this slope letting go was minimal at most. The weather on the ridge was quiet intense as the profile picture will show you but we were very ready. We battled the elements which was light but blowing snow and winds up to 40 mph on 15 degree day.
Soon we were on the summit of Tye Peak where we greeted with only partial views and strong winds. We only stayed long enough for some cool photos and some hero pictures (sorry folks no shirtless photos today) and then decided to head down. Those few minutes were the happiest I had been in a while! I could see that Tye Peak would have excellent views if the weather was clear and maybe one day I will be back to see it at it's glory but today I was just happy to be back on the trail.
We headed down exactly the same way we came up. On the way back though I was extremely tired once we hit the one area where we had to go back over the ridge. In fact I was really breathing heavy. The 16 days skid had caught up to me. But at that point I knew that all I had to do was get over that ridge and I was home free. Slowly but surely I made back over that glissade path and soon I was on top of the ridge. But the sun was now beginning to go down so after a five minute rest it time to head on back to the car. Luckily it was all downhill well marked and both Josh and I had two headlamps (actually I had three). Still though we booked it. I was tired but I did not want to spend anytime out here while dealing with blowing snow and wind. About 30 minutes from the ridge Josh and I ran, hiked and glissade the road all the way back to the car. I was beat but the thought of being in that warm car took over all my pain. We made the car literally minutes before nightfall and once we got in the car we hung in there for a little bit just to warm up.
Of course the way home happened to be the most thrilling. Stevens Pass iced up a lot so I took it slow coming down form the pass. Though the road did have snow on it at least it had some traction (unlike Seattle road during a storm). But that was not as scary as the drivers who refused to lower their high beams well they passed on by. After nearly being blinded more than a hundred times I finally made it safely back to Monroe, but not before saying every different curse word in the book. I felt bad for my partner Josh to have to hear that side of me and apologized to him for that. Honestly though “the Road of Death” lived up to it's name that night and I will be a little cautious next time I drive it at night.
I want to though thank Josh for coming on this trip and kicking in steps the majority of the way. I doubt I could or would want to do this peak solo in the conditions we were given. He found some good safer routes to the summit and the trip would have not been the same without him. PS good peanut butter and jelly sandwiches bro. Until next time have a fun time in the mountains.