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November in Seattle - where to climb?

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November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Autoxfil » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:17 pm

I will likely be in Seattle for work on or around Nov 13th. I should be able to swing a day off to do something fun.

Should I expect the Twin Sisters to be snow-free? Any other places for long day climbs not too far from Everett with a max difficulty of 3rd class or self-arrest-able-snow? I'm pretty fit and fast, so 10 mile approaches are ok.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Autoxfil » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:21 pm

Oh, I have all three Volumes of the Beckey guide.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:47 pm

November is wet, really wet, and this fall has been wetter and colder than usual, the Twin Sisters are already covered in snow. Mt Pilchuck is a pretty popular hike with Everwett based folks and it can be done rain or shine. If the weather cooperates, something off the Mountain Loop Highway or near Darrington might be reasonable if the trail heads are not snowed in. Mt. Vesper, Monte Cristo, Del Campo, Mt Dickerman, Cadet Peak, Mt Pugh, White Horse are possibilities. All of these peaks are potential death traps if avalanche conditions are bad, which is a very likely in November.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Autoxfil » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:51 pm

In that case... How about BC skiing of the low-angle, meadow-skipping, no Avy danger variety? Lower slopes on Rainier or Baker? Maybe something closer to town?

If it's that snowy, just hitting the PCT or something could be lots of fun. I don't need a hardcore climb, Microspikes on trail runners can be a good time.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby mountainsandsound » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:25 pm

November might arguably be the worst month for alpine activities in Washington on average. Lots of precip but much of it may still be falling as rain at moderate elevations. I believe November is tied with January for most precip. November is a good month for home-brewing and spin class.

Having said that, if you aren't hell bent on getting into the alpine, there are some low elevation hikes that will be mostly or entirely snow free and will take you along nice river valleys. There may be blowdown across these trails, very muddy sections, questionable access due to the shutdown, and it will most likely be raining. But you could see some old growth trees, salmon spawning, and fall color (yes, washington has some of that) depending on the trail you choose.

I am not very familiar with hikes off highway 2, so I will let others chime in as far as where to find these places. I believe there is a guidebook geared specifically toward winter hikes that are mostly snow free at this time.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby lcarreau » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:42 pm

November is a soggy doggie. I always visited Utah/Arizona during autumn in the Pacific NW.

The further south, the better.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:45 pm

Steven's Pass, close to Everwett, offers back country skiing. Again, beware of avy conditions. Many very experienced skiers have died in the back country of Stevens. If avy conditions are not good, you can stay inbounds. I have not skied a lot at Steven's, so I can't recommend any safe tours, but http://www.turns-all-year.com/ is a BBS with very active back country skiers and boarders who would be able to offer recommendations.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby sdavis » Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:33 pm

Perhaps something in the North Bend/Snoqualmie Pass area. Easy access off of 90, pick your exit depending on conditions. Kaleetan Peak, for instance, if conditions are good. I did that in a day last month. If conditions aren't good, then something around North Bend. PM me if you want a partner for a day.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby EastKing » Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:15 am

Good luck is the way to answer this question. If you are VERY LUCKY WEATHERWISE; Mount Saint Helens and Camp Muir/Muir Peak are good calls. There is always Mailbox and Mount Si if worse comes to worse. Don't plan on climbing anything Class 3 or higher above 5000 feet because you will run into either very wet, slippery or lightly snowcovered rocks. For good rock climbing Vantage is three hours away and usually has better weather than Seattle. The only issue you would have would be getting over the pass.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Josh Lewis » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:22 am

Weather is usually pretty sweaty during November.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:03 am

It's been 10+ years since I was on these hikes but as best as I remember:
As mentioned above, you can hike up Mt. Si in any weather. It's just a trail hike thru forest - no views until you get to the top. It is very popular on weekends. Gains about 3K in 4 miles. Take I-90 east to North Bend. If there is snow on the trail it may be packed into ice so crampons can be useful. https://www.google.com/#q=mt.+si I think Si and Tiger are on state land.

Closer to town, at exit 20 on I-90 (just past Issaquah) is Tiger Mountain. Gain is about 2K in 3 miles. There are several trails at the start so look at a map or ask which way to the top of Tiger Mountain. http://so-seattle.com/article/hiking-summits-tiger-mountain

For more of an alpine hike, there is Granite Mountain at exit 47 on I-90 east of Seattle. I think this one is on Forest Service land so Obama's shutout could affect access - but it's only 1/2 mile from the freeway exit to the trailhead so could walk it. Gain is 3.8K in 4 miles +/-. Starts in forest, then eventually crosses a gulley and breaks out into thinner trees and brush - if snow is deep DO NOT cross the gulley due to avalanche danger. Get off the trail and go up in the trees keeping left of the gulley. Soon the trees thin out - if snow is deep and soft go back due to avalanche danger. Top 1500'+/- is above tree line. Good views from the top except for freeway below. http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/granite-mountain-1
avalanche: http://abcnews.go.com/US/woman-dead-man-missing-washington-avalanches/story?id=18950967
NEVER leave any valuables in your car at a trailhead.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:56 am

Snow Lake trailhead is at exit 52 (Snoqualmie Pass West) on I-90. Scenic Lake, but be cautious if snow is deep due to avalanche potential.

Trail: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/snow-lake-1
Avalanche: http://www.avalanche.org/data.php?date=2007-2008&sort=&id=236
more avalanche data: http://www.nwac.us/accidents/

If the weather is blue skies, I'd run down to Paradise in Mt. Rainier NP and hike up to Camp Muir. 4500' gain in 4? miles. If you only go part way that's OK, it's beautiful all the way. Snowshoes and/or back country skis probably useful. Ask Rangers about snow and about avalanche danger. Stay on the route and OFF the glaciers - have compass so you can go back to parking lot in total whiteout - take reading on it as you go up - pay attention to the route by looking back often - it's all above treeline and would be easy to get off route. Take sun-screen and dark sunglasses. It'll be cold up high - take warm clothes.
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/camp-muir Sun goes down early in November - get an early start. Call the rangers before you go and ask about roads, fees, etc.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Klenke » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:21 pm

Autox,

Whatever you do, to prep for your visit, stand in a cold shower with your hiking clothes on for at least 10 minutes every third day. Allow your clothes to air dry to the point that they're still damp when you put them back on for the next cold shower. Do that for two weeks straight and you'll be ready for November hiking or climbing in the PNW.
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Josh Lewis » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:54 pm

Make sure the shower water is set to 33 degrees. Or is it 32 degree rain sometimes. :wink:
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Re: November in Seattle - where to climb?

Postby Snidely Whiplash » Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:14 am

Yeah, you've probably gotten the idea already, but November is just about the worst month you could chose to go out in the mountains in the PNW. It is statistically the wettest month of the year. Snowfall can be plentiful, but none of it will be consolidated, so you're looking at an avalanche death trap on prone slopes. If determined to get out anyway, go on an established trail with a lot of people around. Sunnybuns' suggestion of Mt. Si it a good one for a hike. It won't be spectacular (in the woods almost the whole way), but at least it will have a good trail bashed into the snow, which will probably occupy the final 1000 feet, and there isn't any avalanche danger. As Excitable Boy points out, even the most experienced people can get killed in an area like Stevens Pass. Just a year and a half ago, an avalanche near the ski area killed 3 very experienced skiers/mountaineers.
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