IntroductionBoy what a beautiful August it has been in Washington. Any drive near and far was going to be rewarding. But both Zephyr and I were looking for a pretty mountain close. Zephyr and I decided to end it by going up Mount Roosevelt up by Snow Lake. Mount Roosevelt is well known as exposed Class 3 loose scramble at the very end that can be loose. For me this mountain was going to be a challenge because of the loose dirt scramble on the end. I had just been on the Haystack two days before much of that scramble is very solid and though it was airy there were a lot of good handhold going up and down the Haystack. I am also very thankful to have Zephyr lead the way up to summit of Mount Roosevelt.
Heading Up until The Scramble
We approached Mount Roosevelt via the Snow Lake Trail which led all the way to the edge of Gem Lake. This trail is 5 pretty miles one way of some of the prettiest scenery that can be seen right off of I-90. Beautiful alpine lakes, towering cliffy summits and beautiful trees await this amazing hike to Gem Lake. If I had not been there two weeks ago I would have taken at least 100 pictures.
Just before we hit Gem Lake we got on a boot path and took it all the way to the ridgeline where good views of Gem Lake and Wright Mountain. From there we took the boot path that lead all the way up toward the northern sub summit of Mount Roosevelt. The boot path can be described as rocky and steep in places as it first traversed across the top of a ridge then steeply climbed up the shoulder of the northern sub-peak of Roosevelt. This part of the boot path was pretty easy to follow though there was one area that required a brief bushwhack through a group of smaller trees. This section was also steeper and areas and some care were needed on the boot path.
We got high up on the northern sub summit of Roosevelt to stop, have lunch and enjoy the views. From there we went into the gully between the northern sub summit and the true summit of Roosevelt. From the north the true summit of Roosevelt looks Class 5. It did not look very promising to go up this section so we decided to head down to check out the scramble. From now there we headed to the gully to see the route. The route was clear but we had a little snow in the gully to add to make this even tougher. For us we had one more obstacle which was the fact that the gully still had a little snow on the scree part of the scramble.
The Scramble Up the Mountain
We both left our packs below to help us get more balance for what we were going to encounter. Unfortunately for me my camera was part of the pack. Zephyr did a great job lead the way up this scramble. We used our ice axes to obtain the scree section. From there we scrambled over to the steep dirt ramp. Once on the steep dirt ramp the dirt got steeper and turned very steep, Class 3; 50-60 degrees, with only roots and some small vegetation to hold onto. We definitely use of hands here. This was by far the crux of the mountain. One slip here would be a much uncontrolled fall to our death if a tree would not catch us. About a hundred feet up we ran into an easier section to head up. From there we went up the last small easy Class 3 rock scramble to the summit. This last section was not nearly as bad as the Class 3 dirt scramble that lead up to it and a fall from it wasn’t nearly as bad.
From there we reached the summit and were greeted with excellent views of Snow Lake, Kaleetan and Chair and hundreds of other mountains in this region. The views here were quiet amazing and if we were not so nervous about the scramble we would have been able to enjoy them more. We only stayed around for a little bit due to the fact that we knew the scramble down was going to be a chore. Both of us knew we were going to have to take a lot of time going down the scramble and it impacted our enjoyment of the summit.
The Scary Scramble DownHeading down required a lot of care. One mistake and we would be rolling down the mountain with a nice cliff to greet us. Zephyr again lead the way down and did an excellent job. We used our ice axes for some of steeper section. In fact we used all sides of the axe to get ourselves down the mountain. It should be noted we saw a couple of rappel slings still in the trees on the way down. That really is how steep and exposed it is here. We took our time making sure we had good footing on the way down. Cautiously though we made it down the dirt and heather back to the snow field. Once done with the true summit we gathered ourselves ate and then headed back down to the summit.
By the time reached Gem Lake we knew we were going to be pushing it in order to beat sunset. Both of us were very tired and for me adrenaline had really weakened me for the last leg of the trip. Still we knew that we could not waste any time. We glided on the Gem Lake and Snow Lake Trail as quick as we could. In the evening we got some awesome pictures of Snow Lake just before sunset. From there dusk became night and we had to headlamp the last mile back to our car.