A weekend aloneit was wednesday night when I called everyone I knew to see if they wanted to go climbing on saturday/sunday. Everyone either ignored my calls or told me they couldn't go. At first I was sad because I enjoy the wilderness so much when it is shared. But the closer saturday came, the more excited I got about having some time alone.
My plan friday evening began to take shape... I was going to climb Sahale Peak. Yes, I know this isn't the best choice for a climb of solitude. It is a better choice if you are looking for crowds like department stores the day after Christmas. But I had never taken the time to go up the peak before so I figured I could put in my headphones and ignore everyone on the way up.
SaturdayI got up at 4:30 and was driving by 5:30. I packed 2 liters of water, a wind shell, a puffy jacket, sunglasses, ice axe, lightweight crampons, gloves and sunglasses... o yes, of course some food too. I didn't want to bring much because I was planning on going fast and being out before 1:00 in the afternoon.
As soon as I left my apartment in Seattle, it began to pour. THe weather report has said that there was a 20% chance of showers in the mountains and sun down low. This rainy drive was making me wonder if driving all the way up there was going to be worth it, but I continued anyway. It rained all the way until I got about 6 miles from the end of cascade river road. I went around a corner and saw this...
But I was determined and wasn't going to let 3 little miles stop me. So I set off up the flat road which began to get much steeper quickly. THe 3 miles went quickly and I was at the cascade pass trailhead in no time. 3 miles down, now the 3.7 most tedious miles one could ever ask for (35 switchbacks). I counted out loud each time I reach the next switchback thinking that everyone around me must think I'm crazy. Then it hit me, I hadn't seen ANYONE the whole trip so far! I guess the road closure discouraged EVERYONE from taking advantage of such great weather!
Quickly I was at cascade pass and taking in the view and eating some food. My boots had began to give me a few hot spots so I put duct tape on my heels right away. 10 minutes after stopping I was on my way again. The sun was fully up and it was starting to get hot. Right as I was about to start dying from the heat, I popped up onto Sahale Arm and there was a brisk breeze. Along with the breeze I got my first good views of Sahale that day
Sahale arm is a wonderful place for those of you who have never been there. And being there on a day when you literally have the whole place to yourself is even better! The views extend out in every direction. There was water running below a snowfield on the arm so I refilled all my water bottles and continued up the arm to the high moraine camps. Right before I got to the camps, a couple popped their heads over the moraines and began making their way down with HUGE backpacks (these were the only people I saw the whole day). I stopped and chatted with them for a few minutes and they tried to talk me out of going up the glacier because they said it was too steep. I wished them a nice day and headed up up up.
As soon as I reached the glacier I put on crampons and took only water, warm jacket, ice axe and some food then started up the glacier. There was one section that was bare ice but it had spent so much time in the sun that it was soft and my aluminum crampons went right up it with no trouble.
I took a 15 minute nap on the summit and realized it was still early being only 12:15 when I woke up. I knew I wasn't going to make it back by 1:00 but I could sure be earlier than I expected, so I packed up and downclimed the normal route back to the glacier and quickly went back to the rest of my gear and packed up. I think from this point on I only stopped for two pictures and literally ran the rest of the way back, in mountain boots.
by the time I got to the cascade pass trailhead my feet were hurting, not from blisters, just from pounding. I slowed down here to a quick walk. Those last 3 miles felt like 50. My feet tarted hurting worse and worse until I actually had to stop and take a 10 minute break. Eventually I made it back to the car after 18 miles and 7,200' of elevation, it was 3:15 pm. It wasn't 1:00 like I had been hoping but I was pretty excited with the early afternoon hour.
I passed one car headed in on cascade river road but other than that, there were no cars to be seen.