Battling Thunder and Boulders on Hurricane Peak
Well it is another weekend and another mountain to try to get. Out here in the Pacific Northwest summit addict try to go weekly if not twice a week to try to get all the peaks they can get in the region. If I wasn't working two jobs, 70 hours a week I would probably go three times a week. This weekend my friend Magellan invited me to attempt a rather obscure but quite dominant peak by the name of Hurricane Peak. Hurricane Peak with its solid cliffs dominates over Boulder Lake and the peak itself rises 1500 feet above the lake. Once hearing about the awesome peak I decided that I want to at least give the peak a shot.
UP TO BOULDER LAKE
We got to the trailhead at 8:40 in the morning and started cruising up the Tenas Creek/Boulder Lake Trail. The trail itself had been recently revamped due to the WTA fixing it up. They did an excellent job and for at least the first 2 miles, the trail was in great shape. From what I here this trail was quiet a step up from the fisherman’s trail it was 4 years ago. Thankfully it is in great condition now. We cruised up the trail reaching Boulder Lake in about an hour and a half. Towards the end the trail travelled through talus but for the most part the trail was in good condition.
THE SCRAMBLE TO THE SUMMIT
Once up on Boulder Lake we stopped to truly figure out what route we were going to take to get to the summit of Hurricane Hill. From below we decided against the gully that shot just to the south of the summit because it looked way too steep and try another way to get to the summit. To get to the other way we had to head up a gully to Pear Lake and then pick our way up the gullies and around the cliffs to the top of the ridge. We took this route up which were Class 2 and 3 scrambles and gullies to the top of the ridge. Often we encountered lose dirt, scree and areas with poor footholds. But through the longer struggle up the slope we did prevail and attained the top of the ridge.
Once on the other side we traversed left. Magellan is very strong in boulder hopping. Unfortunately I am not. Thankful he is a patient friend. I have been way too spoiled by glacier climbing and snow climbing and my boulder hopping game is not very strong. So I was quiet slow here and internally wishing I was on Hood or that there was more snow here (I brought my axe). We stay with it eventually reaching the final summit scramble (easy short Class 3). By this point my leg were cramping from boulder hopping and scrambling up the ledges and gullies up to the ridge. Because of this I took it slow up the scramble but continued all the way to the summit. It was cloudy but you could still see quiet a number of summits from Hurricane Peak.
THUNDER STRIKES!! IT IS TIME TO GET DOWN
Once we reached the summit we realized that we were going to be the first to sign the summit register in 3 years. We had some views and we started to take in the summit. Unfortunately our joy on the summit was short lived because the sound of thunder to our south meant our time on the summit would be brief. It was time to get off the mountain as quick as possible.
Heading down the first easy Class 3 scramble down over dirt and some rocks was slower going but the thunder and now the rain began to motivate us to go down faster. While I was glissade a small snow field Magellan rechecked that gully. From the top once we looked down the gully we realized that the gully was safe for decent (and would be a great place to go up in summer.
DESCENDING DOWN THE GULLY
The gully is actually only Class 2 with some loose material and at an angle of 45-50 degrees. It looked a whole lot steeper from below. We used the trees to descend into the gully and then took the gully all the way down. At first I was on my butt going down it but soon got comfortable and was able to just walk slowly down the gully. I put on my helmet here just in case of rock fall. It was slow going down for me because some of the sections were loose and I did not want to kick too many rocks on my partner Magellan below. On the way down we met a family going up trying to be the second group in 2010 to make the summit according to the register. From what we could see they were on good pace to make the summit.
Once we were 200 feet above the lake we decided to side traverse the north side of the lake. By this time the weather became sunny again and the thunderstorm never quiet blew our way. We got a little rain in the gully but it could have been MUCH WORSE! We stopped at the lake after a while for Magellan to take a quick swim but took our time getting back over the scree, talus and heather. It was an interesting mix and I was cautious going over all the boulders and talus. Some would move just when I put my foot on them which made me much slower than I would have been. I was also distracted by the number of marmots that live here. They sure are cute but I didn't want to get too close to them.
After a long trip down to the other side of the lake we took one last scramble past more now much larger boulders to the meet up with the trail below. By this time I was clearly get sick of seeing rocks, scree and talus so by the time we reached the trail I became quiet relieved. Once on the trail it was quick jog/hike back down to the car. I was a little tired from the scrambling and bouldering but we made it from the lake to the trailhead in a little under an hour. I was tired from this trip but glad for the third consecutive time to challenge myself on another scramble.
I do want to thank Magellan for organizing the trip and being patient with me while descending the gully. I was taking it quiet slow and cautious but thankfully he was understand. I am also thankful that he found safe routes down that mountain through the gully and that we did not have to go down the way we came. It was another excellent trip in this area and I am happy to back another peak while getting beta on a couple more.