Another weekend, another peakAnother weekend, another peak, another parent, and another great adventure in the Olympic Mountains. Mount Stone has always been on my radar for a number of reasons, like the fact that it's easily visible from Seattle, and that it's located close to Lake of the Angels, one of the most beautiful alpine lakes I've ever visited. When my mom mentioned that she was interested in hiking to the lake, I suggested we take the trip one step further by making an attempt on Stone. She agreed, although the class 3 scramble on the summit block worried her a bit. Our tentative plan was to climb Stone via the standard route, then descend to Lake of the Angels and meet some family there. After a few stops for coffee, food, then more coffee, we arrived at the Putvin trailhead at 9 AM. At 9:05 we were hiking.
Brush, scree, flies, summitThe approach trail was steep. Very steep. My mom led most of the way and set a brutal pace. Of course, being her son, there was no way I'd let her beat me to the top, so I put my head down and endured. I kept up, but I have to admit, I was in pain pretty much the whole way. We reached the 4600 foot meadow shown in Klenke's photo in no time, and found ourselves next to a pond. From here we ascended a brushy gully above some talus, which eventually led to a boulder field.
Here, I experienced my first ever moment of what the hikers in my family like to call "Olympic Mountain bug panic." Olympic Mountain bug panic is when a group of bugs, usually flies, swarms you while you're hiking. The quickness of the onset and agressiveness of these bugs is so severe that you experience a moment of sheer panic, stripping off layers, throwing down gear, and screaming profanity while you run in circles trying to lose your pursuers. This is exactly what happened to both of us when a group of ruthless horseflies assaulted us. From the time we exited the brush to the time we angled left under some cliffs we were constantly evading flies. I guess the plus side of this is that we made great time for this part of the route.
When we were a few hundred feet below Saint Peter's Gate, we angled left under some cliffs following a faint path. This path traversed crappy scree and loose rock underneath the cliffs and eventually deposited us at a notch in the west ridge, where the interior Olympics came in to view. To our surprise there was little smoke in the interior, but the Cascades and Puget Sound were almost completely obscured. Here is our view of Mount Rainier:
From the notch we went up an easy 3rd class chimney.
Soon the summit block came in to view.
The last obstacle between us and the block was a snowfield; we avoided this by walking in the moat to our left. When we got to the block I consulted both the Olympic Mountains climbers guide and the summitpost printout. The guidebook recommends going left, but my mom was concerned about the exposure. Instead we took the route that was marked with a large cairn, following a right angling groove. The first fifteen feet or so was a steep class 3 scramble with little exposure. The rest was a class 2 walk to the summit.
I checked my watch when we got to the top. It was 12:23 PM. From the car to the summit took us 3 hours and 19 minutes. This seemed like a decent time to me, so I was satisfied, albeit tired. The views from the summit were some of the best I've seen in the range.
After a careful downclimb of the class 3, we headed down the route, passing by some big rocks along the way.
Lake of the AngelsInstead of going all the way down what we came up we headed to Lake of the Angels.
This is one of the most scenic lakes I've been to. I would definitely like to spend more time up here in the future. The whole time we were there there was a family of goats wandering around. Before we left, I jumped in the lake. It was super cold, but it felt good after the 5000'+ vertical we'd ascended earlier.
After drying off and taking some pictures, we headed down. Overall, this is one of the better peaks I've climbed in the Olympics. The route had a great mix of routefinding, scrambling, and views, and enough elevation gain to make you feel accomplished at the end of the day.