The Trip Report
In questionable weather there must always be a bailout adventure in order to keep the adventure going as well as keep the physical fitness ready for that next large trip. In order to satisfy that thirst for adventure you need beautiful views, steep scree scrambles, 1000' glissades, blizzards, and steep snow climbs. Now the question you must be asking is if that is a bailout trip requirements then what about the main objective. That hopefully you will find out next week.
I decided to line up a number of climbing partners in order to redo Eldorado only to see the weather forecast be absolutely nasty in the North Cascades. Okay it is bailout time! Now where do we go! The answer was the Teanaway located on the drier side of the Cascades. The Teanaway is a great bailout place where I have gone many times to salvage a hiking day when other parts of the Cascades are not going well. I've been wanting to do Navaho for quiet a while and I knew this was the time to go.
The trip involved fellow SPer Jimbopo and his brother Josh, Murph from NwHikers, SPer's QuetzalCoatl, and Mtn.Climber. We all hit the trailhead around 8:45 am after a couple small delays along the way. The weather predictably was wet on the western side and dry in the Teanaway when we showed up to the trailhead. We all met up and started up the Stafford Creek Trail which gently rose up through the valley floor. QuetzalCoatl decided to take off this section and go at a joggers pace up the trail. We began at an extremely rapid pace (10 minute first mile). QuetzalCoatl and Josh were competing for who was faster in the beginning and it was hard to stay up with them.
Soon though after about a mile and a half, Curt had an bad reaction to something and slowed down which allowed the rest of us to catch up and set a better pace. Within an hour we staring right at the face of Freedom Peak to our east. We continued up the Stafford Creek trail. At 4000 feet we were hitting snow and at 4700 feet the snow was now consistent all the way up.
As we were rising to Navaho Pass we did head off a little west of Navaho Pass. Luckily with aid of three maps, compasses and a GPS we quickly found our way back to the pass. Views really began to open up at 5500 feet and were stunning of Enchantment to the north from the gap. Once in the gap we had our lunch. At the time the weather was a little shaky so we did not expect much of a view from Navaho. We all hoped that things would change in the next hour as we ascended Navaho but it didn't look so hot while we were in the pass.
Once out of the pass we headed up the moderate and partially wooded slopes up 1200 feet to the summit of Navaho. Though parts of this mountain had some trees views along the way were pretty good. We also noticed that it was clearing as we were heading up. Views were really beginning to break out and by the time we reached the summit we were engulfed by stunning views of the Enchantments, the western Teanaway, the Three Brothers to the east and Freedom Peak and Miller to the south. Mount Stewart is especially stunning from Navaho Peak. We took a couple minute to take in the stunning views and then decided to move on to Freedom Peak. While on the summit of Navaho we noticed a storm though off to our east getting closer and closer. In fact by the time we were walking off the main summit the storm was beginning to engulf the Three Brothers.
We descended heading right into the pass between Navaho and Freedom Peak. The slope heading down stared off at a moderate grade. There were some larger cornice off on the eastern slope so all of stayed very clear of them. As we were heading down the to the pass the snow was beginning to hit us. The final section heading down Navaho into the Pass required heading down a Class 2 scree slope. It wasn't too bad after a 300 foot decent of the slope we quickly found ourselves in the pass. The weather really was picking up now but Freedom was so close and we were only at most 450-500 feet from the summit. The pointy summit now was barely visible because the weather that had moved in.
We all decided to go for the summit of Freedom Peak. On the way up we encountered near blizzard conditions. The climb up from the ridge though was well were it. We headed up the 30-40 degree slope all the way to the summit of Freedom Peak. The blizzard like conditions along with the pointy top clear gave this mountain the alpine feel that we all were craving. Once on the top we got to stare at the western cliff as well as off in all directions. There was no views due to weather on the top but it was clear that this was one cool peak. We didn't stick around long here though the weather had lessened briefly while I was on top enough to take some pictures.
On the way down it was clear that it was glissade time. The snow which was firm enough to hold our weights while we hiking yet soft enough to kick steps in was perfect for glissading. We all got a couple good glissade off of Freedom Peak to the Gap and then a number of very good glissades from the gap down west to the trail. In fact the glissade now from the gap were some of the better glissades I have done all year. Though my rear was hurting a little I had an awesome time heading down to the Stafford Creek Trail. In no time we were back to the trail and heading on back to the car. The rest of the trip back was rather uneventful. We were either hit by snow or light drizzle. We reached the car at 5 pm and headed on back. During the day we knocked of 13.25 miles and 4500 feet of elevation. Not bad for a bailout peak.
I would like to thank everyone for coming onto this trip. It was an amazing success and all of us had a lot of fun. Hopefully the same group can head up for many more trip. I also want to thank Joanna (Miss Iris on NwHikers) for letting us borrow her car. Thank all or another awesome trip in the mountains.