The StatsRoundtrip Distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 3300 feet
Obstacles: Steeper packed snow below 4500 feet, 12 -18 inches of powder above 5500 feet
Powder on Arrowhead
With all the wonderful stories of trip up this mountain and all the talk that this mountain was going to have great conditions from other websites, Magellan and I eyed this mountain as a great mountain to go for while the winter is alive. I was going to bring some extra weight so that this way I could prepare for what is setting up to be a very busy spring and summer. All the great shots really were pumped into our head and we were pumped to give this mountain a chance.
So today it was time to tackle Arrowhead. Magellan, Mad Dog from NWHikers, QuetzalCoatl, Gimpilator, Brent and I were pumped by the great sunrise that we saw in the morning. Mount Index was glowing and we had no reason to think that we were going to have weather problems. Unfortunately by the time we hit Stevens Pass the weather started to change and snow was starting to fall . What we didn't know is that this would a sign of things to come.
Well we hit the parking area and began to head up to the train tracks. As we were walking to the area in which we going to cut up the ridge it really began snowing and it was a little windy. No big deal we thought it will probably pass.
We started up the north slope to attain the ridge. On the way up their was very little snow. After about 300 feet, one of our members thought that due to the packed snow and the lack of snow recently it would be a good time to ditch the snowshoes. All but Mad Dog and I agreed due to the packed snow and the only reason why I didn't was because I need all the weight in the pack that I could get. Gimpilator set a fast pace in the beginning and we made decent time attaining the ridge.
Unfortunately once we hit the ridge we hit with a surprise, ideal snowshoe conditions with six inches of fresh dry powder. :Mad Dog and I quickly put on the snowshoes and decided to take lead at this point so that we could pack down the trail for the others. Somewhere around this time as we were started up the ridge Magellan was feeling weak from his severe flu a couple weeks back and had to turn around. Brett decided to go with him. With little opportunity of seeing the great views which other had there was no motivation to push on.
As Mad Dog and I continued up the snow became deeper and deeper. Often time we were on our hands and knees going over steeper snowfields. As we headed up the weather became windier and colder as we continued to the summit. It was often very difficult maneuvering up over the fresh very dry powder. Finally we reached the summit with Gimpilator and QC roughly 5 minutes behind. They actually did very well considering they didn’t have snowshoes. With all the snow and the heavy wind it was hard to imagine the great views that we saw in other TR's.
We ate lunch and then quickly headed back down from the summit. At first the steep slow down was a little tough with snowshoes, but after the initial steep descent the trip down became easy going down with snowshoes. Gimpilator and QC also made good time plunge stepping in our track. It was very enjoyable though heading down in snowshoes. And I kept the snowshoes on all the way to the 4500 foot mark. From there I plunge stepped through the somewhat icy and packed snow down from the ridge. QC and I did some short glissades on the slopes but the packed snow wasn't too good for them. Gimpilator and I took our time getting down the mountain due to the mountain conditions.
Thirty minutes later we made it back to the train tracks. A train startle most of our crew but Gimpilator and I were ready for the trains. The train tracks though seem much longer than on the way to the mountain. But we all made it back safely back to the car.
Thanks everyone for begin a good sport and for coming on the trip. And thanks to Magellan for setting up the trip. Though there are not many good picture from my end, hopefully there will be good pictures by the others.