Not So Swift Way To Be On Top Of Taylor!!
For this Saturday I had big plans to go into the mountains and knock off some higher peaks in the Cascades. Unfortunately with the recent snows coming into the Seattle region a pending storm about to move into the area and the avalanche danger being extremely high I had to adjust my plans to find a much safer mountain to go up. With the snow level being so low Redwic, Curttissimo, and I decided to go up a lesser known Issaquah Alps called Taylor Mountain.
Taylor Mountain is one of the least known of all of the Issaquah Alps. The mountain is much more rarely climbed than the other Issaquah Alps and none of the trails by Taylor truly make it to the summit. It can though easily climbed through a series of logging roads. The mountain itself under normal conditions is not the most desirable mountain. To get to the true summit the proper way requires about 8 miles of road walking roundtrip from the East Tiger Trailhead. There are plenty of views from the road walk up to the true summit but most hikers and mountaineers don’t really have a strong desire to slog 8 miles up a sub-3000 foot mountain. That being said when conditions are the way they were on 2/26/11 safety and common sense must come in to the equation when choose a mountain to climb in the region and Taylor Mountain made a great choice for the time.
On The Way Up Taylor
It was early Saturday morning and I was on a time crutch to make it to work in the afternoon. All of us left the trailhead around 6 am and started our climb up Taylor Mountain. The morning was for Pacific Northwest terms very cold and the temperatures at the trailhead were in the low teens. We quickly started up the road on our journey to the summit of Taylor Mountain. Though it was nighttime when we started we had great visibility heading up the logging roads. Despite the roads being covered with over a foot of new powder we were making good time heading up Taylor Mountain. The area with the new snow definitely had a beauty all its own, despite the fact that we were going up a logging road. Snow tends to cover up a lot manmade debris and often heighten the beauty of an area.
We all took turns breaking trail with Curttissimo doing the most on the logging roads. There were a number of great clear cuts where we were rewarded great views of East Tiger and the Cascade front. Also at time views of the metro area as well as Olympics did come out from time to time. That was though despite the fact that there was quickly a storm moving into the Cascades at the time that was not called to be coming in until later that day. We decided to take a shorter route up to the summit due to the fact that I had to be at work at 3 pm and the Redwic and Curttissimo had prior afternoon obligations as well. So instead of taking the long road walk to the summit we decided to take to take what we though would be a much quicker way up to the summit by rising fairly high up the road system and then bushwhacking a couple times to get to the summit.
On our way there we saw a recently abandoned Jeep that was left there. It looked like the person had gotten stuck in the snow and had to walk down for help. I actually hope he made it down we took down some information and then carried on from there. From the looks of the Jeep it looked like it had just been there the day before.
The Brutal Bushwhack
We made very good time up the logging roads but once we hit the bushwhacking sections we were in some seriously tough bushes. As we scratched and clawed our way through bushes and devil’s club as well as saplings we slowly but surely made our way to the next logging road up ahead. All of us got pretty beaten up from the bushwhacking with scratches but we plowed through the fields in good time. From there we landed ourselves back to the logging road again. We followed the logging road a ways until the road started to head downhill. The maps that we had were not current. It had showed the logging road going back down to the valley. In reality this road continued on and eventually reached another road to the summit but we did not know that until after the trip. So we decided to cut again up the slope and yet again we hit another very brutal bushwhack. This bushwhack was one of the nastiest, brutal bushwhacks I have ever experienced. At times I was bashing against bushes, being hit my devil’s club and had branch going into both my nostrils and inside my ear. But I had gone this far and I was not going to be stopped on a peak that doesn’t even break 3000 feet of elevation.
On Top of Taylor
Finally I hit a road that our map read lead to the summit. Though I was the first to get up there, I was scratched up, bruised and beaten up. At one point I had a blood nose. I might have been climbing a small mountain called Tyler but I felt like I was beaten up by Mike Tyson. We took a quick break here and rested before going to the summit. The summit itself is marked by a stack of branches roughly 30 feet high. I don’t know how stable this stack is in summer but with 2 feet of snow on it this area was actually quiet stable. The stack also gave a great view as well of the surrounding region, including the Cascade Front, the Tigers, the Seattle metro area, the Olympics and of the Mount Rainier and surrounding peaks. Maybe no the most jaw-dropping of views but good compared to what we would have encountered on a higher mountain, which was right now being buried in snow. We avoided the avalanche danger but got but got beaten up in the process.
More Brutality on the Way Down
After going that brutal way up I thought that there might be a better way down. With our map not up to date I could not really see any roads on the way down so I thought it would be best to follow the road we ran into and take it all the way until it ended and then bushwhack from there. The road itself was very good for a while but it of course stopped and then it was time to get beat up again! : I decided to take lead here and lead us down through more nasty devils club and more brutal bushes. Yet again it was total brutality and about as nasty as before. In the back of my mind I kept thinking there has to be a better way up than this way. But after the brutal bushwhack I finally made it to another logging road we were on. From here we took the road a little ways until we hit our first brutal bushwhack. Coming back the way we came the bushwhack was actually in much better shape this time so we were able to go through with much less brutality and bruising.
We made it through the logging and were soon on our way back down the roads. On our way down took down more info to report to the authorities and then proceeded downhill to our car. After an hour more of snowshoeing on a logging road we were back at the parking area and enjoying the wonderful heat of the car. We were successful in getting the summit and success in avoiding the avalanche danger but were well marked from the route we took to get there. That being said it was a great day in the mountains and I was glad to be with great company on the trip.
There is a Better Route and Conclusion
It should be noted on the way back that I found a much better route up Taylor Mountain. This route does not involve any bushwhacking at all. It is longer but in reality it doesn’t add anymore time to the trip. And most importantly you will avoid the tons of scars and bruises that each of us received on the trip. If you take this way Taylor Mountain is a very pleasant snowshoe during colder and low elevation snow levels. The peak itself due the road way will only be about 5-6 hours roundtrip and potentially there are decent views. I do want to thank Craig and Curtis for coming along and inviting me on this trip. Though we have some new tattoos it was a very fun outing. Looking forward to another awesome summit next week!!!