Low Mountain in a Blizzard 12-15-2012
Low Mountain has been on my radar for some time now, having failed two summit bids due to soft snow and lack of proper gear. So needles to say, I was stoked to see a recent trip report by a few NWHikers with snowshoes. Thanks to Gimpilator, EastKing, and Jacob Smith for packing down a nice trench for me!
The road is covered in snow from the junction at Asahel Curtis, and I was lucky to make it within a 1/4 mile of the trail head (which was covered in 1-2' of powder) with balding passenger tires.
Leaving the car just before 8 o'clock, I made good time up to the first crossing of Denny Creek which had just enough solid snow to make a safe crossing. The first talus field caused me a few post-holes but by the second open section the trench began to fill in with powder, providing a little more staying power.
As forecast, snow began to fall around 9:30 and the wind began to pick up as I approached the pass. Beyond Hemlock Pass the trench was only sporadically visible under several inches of new snowfall and drift. There were a few short sections where the ridge became very narrow with significant exposure on either side providing some route-finding challenges between trees and away from corniced edges. I turned back after seeing some concerning movement in the steep snowy banks below the summit.
Before I had descended half of the North ridge, my own trench was almost indistinguishable under heavy snowfall and wind drift. As is my usual luck, the fog began to lift and the snowfall slowed within 20 minutes of leaving the summit. Between the pass and the falls I encountered a pair of skiers skinning their way up and a group of over a dozen snowshoers on their way to Melakwa Lake.