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Few Days Around Seattle

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Few Days Around Seattle

Postby angeloks » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:02 pm

Hi,

I'll be visiting my friend in Seattle mid October. We'll have about 4 days to go out climbing in the area. We can climb grade II and I lead ice confidently up to WI3. I checked quickly and mount Baker sounded good. But I wanted to hear your suggestions. I'm also concern about the conditions mid October.

Thanks,
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby Snidely Whiplash » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:25 pm

Yeah, mid-October is usually when it starts crapping out up here weather-wise. Another issue you'll run into is that the days are starting to get really short around here. I don't know where you're coming from, but we're pretty far north here. On the other hand, you can get some good weather in October too. Personally, I wouldn't want to be on any glacier routes in October, especially on Baker. Those are big, big glaciers, especially the Coleman, and they will very broken up. It is hard to predict what conditions will be. Any new snow that has fallen will be unconsolidated. There may be just enough new snow to conceal crevasses, but you'll easily fall through. Not to mention the avalanche danger. If it were me, I'd head east to Leavenworth and do some rock climbing in the Icicle Creek area. Hit Leavenworth during Oktoberfest. Also, some good October scrambling in The Teanaway. Check out the different scrambles on the side bar.
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:16 pm

I'll just second what Snidely Whiplash said. October is the beginning of what locals refer to as the shoulder season; summer glacier routes become too broken and icy, alpine rock routes too snowy and cold, winter routes not yet formed. This year seems to be particularly bad for glaciers, they are quite broken and icy right now, much more so than in years past at this time. October can have good weather, but there is often new snow on the ground in the high country making alpine rock routes more of a question mark.

In October I always think of Leavenworth. Often too hot in the summer, Autumn brings nice temperatures and its position east of the crest usually means drier weather than the west side. The rock climbing is really excellent and has lots of moderate traditional climbs with very easy (for the Cascades) approaches. In the Icicle Canyon there has been a lot of recent sport climbing development as well.

The Teanaway is a good suggestion. Ingall's Peaks are fun alpine rock routes with less commitment and than the big routes on the nearby Enchantments. I've climbed Ingall's Peak and Mt Stuart (WR) in Octobers past and had good luck with conditions.
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby angeloks » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:13 pm

Hey thanks ! I'll be coming from Montreal, so I'll be ready for the weather...

I'll definitely check the Ingall's, that looks great !
http://www.summitpost.org/north-ingalls ... rah/820032

On the other hand, my friend wanted to do a "big" mountain. Would it still be possible to go on Rainier at that time ? I guess that the routes are now well established ? I don't think we'd aim for the summit, but just some days on the mountain would be cool. Or again, crevasses will be a big problem ?
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby Snidely Whiplash » Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:33 pm

Don't be put off by the low elevation of the mountains in this area. "Big" mountains in the Cascades have a much lower elevation than places in Colorado, for example. A 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado has a base of 10,000 feet, so only 4,000 feet of relief. A 7,700 foot mountain like Ingalls has a starting point of 4,200 feet, for about 3,500 feet of relief. As Excitable Boy has suggested, if you had good weather and wanted to make an attempt on a worthier goal, Mt. Stuart (right next to Ingalls) at 9,400 feet has a vertical mile of relief, more than any 14'er in Colorado, and it's a "big" mountain. A really "big" mountain.

If you really had your heart set on Mt. Rainier and weren't too concerned about getting to the top, many people like to make the trip up to Camp Muir at 10,188 feet. This is the over night camping area on the busiest route on Mt. Rainier, and where the "climbing" part really begins. The trip from the parking lot at the Paradise Ranger Station (5,400 feet) means that you'll be gaining 4,800 feet to Camp Muir over the Muir Snowfield, a permanent snowfield. You'll likely be traveling through some fresh, unconsolidated snow also, as this week, the weather is starting to change to a wetter, cooler pattern, so you may need snowshoes or skis to go up it, but you won't need to rope up. After Muir, it's all real glaciers and roped climbing. And just because you won't need to rope up on the way to Muir, don't take this trip lightly. The weather and visibility can get bad in a real hurry. I've been up there in bad weather, and you can't see a thing. The natural fall line down the Muir Snowfield takes you down to the Nisqually Glacier, not back to the Paradise Ranger Station, so you need to be prepared with a compass or GPS. A lot of people have gotten lost in bad weather going down that snowfield, and more than a few have died.
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:48 pm

angeloks wrote:On the other hand, my friend wanted to do a "big" mountain. Would it still be possible to go on Rainier at that time ? I guess that the routes are now well established ? I don't think we'd aim for the summit, but just some days on the mountain would be cool. Or again, crevasses will be a big problem ?


Crevasses will be your biggest problem - in mid October the winter snow will be as melted out as it will ever be and once the guide services pull the ladders and fixed ropes it can become a maze of icy crevasses. I closed my alpine season last week as the glaciers are in tough shape, but there is certainly no harm in taking a look for yourself as long as you mind the weather. The Mount Rainier climbing rangers post route conditions on their blog: http://mountrainierconditions.blogspot.com/
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:53 am

You could do the south side of Mt. Adams in October if the weather cooperates. Summit is about 12,276' and you start at 5,600' at Cold Springs Trailhead. Is that big enough for ya? :) The south side is non-technical, but crampons and axe should be taken - there can be icy spots.

Mt. Adams: http://www.summitpost.org/mount-adams/150198

Mt. Adams south side route: http://www.summitpost.org/south-spur/155590

Inquire with the US Forest Service Rangers in Trout Lake, Washington before you go to make sure roads are open, etc.

There is a campground about 3 miles before you get to the trailhead called Morrison Creek I think. Good place to camp if you arrive after dark; or you can camp right at the trailhead - pitch a tent anywhere near the parking lot. Try to spend a night or 2 at 6000' to 8000' altitude before going for the summit so you don't have serious altitude sickness.

I'm not sure about water availability on the route in October. The trail crosses a creek at about 7,000 feet - sometimes that freezes at night and doesn't flow until later in the day. BUT above about 8500' there will be snow to melt. Good campsites near the creek crossing in the trees, and all along the route beyond that.

Plan on a cold, windy route. If it's raining go somewhere else. Big volcanoes are no place to be in a storm. If you decide to do this route, let us know and we can give more information.
Last edited by Sunny Buns on Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:28 am

OR, if the weather sucks in Washington, you could do south side route on South Sister near Bend, Oregon - about 5,000' gain hike to the appx 10,300' summit of a volcano - non- technical. About 7 hour drive to trailhead from Seattle.
South Sister: http://www.summitpost.org/south-sister/150455
Good tent campground at Devils Lake - the trailhead for the south side route - so if you arrive at 2AM, just go out in the woods, find a campsite and pitch a tent.


OR, if it sucks in Oregon, head south to Mt. Shasta, 14,162' and do the Clear Creek route - another non technical south-side route. Trailhead at about 6,400'. Drive 50 meters past toilets and camp by car if you arrive middle of the night. Contact Rangers in McCloud, California for road and route information. About 10-11 hour drive from Seattle to trailhead. Can also get good info from the mountaineering store The Fifth Season in Shasta, California.
I think Summit Post lists incorrect altitude:
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-shasta/150188
Clear Creek Route:
http://www.summitpost.org/clear-creek/157378

All these routes I've mentioned are big volcanoes with little protection from wind-blown rain/snow. Don't go up in a storm.
Last edited by Sunny Buns on Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Few Days Around Seattle

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:40 am

If making the summit isn't necessary you might just hike from Paradise to Camp Muir at 10,000' on Mt. Rainier. As long as you are on-route, no glaciers. About 4500' gain. Pitch a tent or dig a snow cave and enjoy the scenery, unless there's a storm. In that case the entire trip can be simulated by putting your head in a gray bag and standing in a cold shower............... :shock:
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