Sunrise Traverse to Cascade Heaven
It is Friday Night and I am just getting home from another late day at work. The weather is absolutely amazing but work needs me back there in the afternoon. Looks like another blown opportunity in the mountains, right? Never!!! Sleep can wait a day!!
Realizing this issue I got in touch with two of most reliable climbing partners, Josh Lewis and Jimbopo. All of us realized that this was much more of an opportunity for us than a handicap. The avalanche danger in the mountains was supposed to rapidly increase during the daytime from the April sun and the snowmelt. So we decided on an alpine start for this mountain so that we can hit these two summits during the safest times, and so I can make it back at work. I would provide the car; Jimbopo would be driver; and Josh Lewis would be the talker to keep Jimbopo up.
We headed out after midnight and were at the trailhead at 2 am. Yes it is the alpine start. With the approach being forested all of us really had to pay attention to every geographic detail in order to successful make up Spinnaker and Martin in good time.
Beginning at night we were greeted by good conditions. Once on the snow it seemed to stay nice and consolidated for the first part of our climb. We still needed and used snowshoes but the snow was easy to move through. The two stream crossings were now even more interesting than they were two weeks ago. The first crossing we just looked for the strong snow bridge to cross. Luckily we found one though I doubt that the snow bridge will be available in a week or two. For the second stream crossing, a broken log covered with 4 feet of snow gave us or only option to safely cross the creek. But outside of those two stream crossings head up to the basin where the Nason Creek ends was uneventful.
Once we hit the basin we turned to the ridge and headed straight up hill. The slope was steep and a lot of effort was need here, but the snow was in good condition on the way up. Slowly we made our way up the ridge until right at first light we made it to Point 5261 our stopping point two weeks ago. Because of night navigating and no broken trail we hit Point 5261 at 5:30 where we got our first views of Spinnaker.
The Crux Traverse to Spinnaker
We proceeded on though cautious traversing the ridge. The view from 5261 totally hides the traverse from this point to the summit of Spinnaker. When you view Spinnaker Peak from here it looks like a simple traverse. Once you go a hundred feet though down the ridge it became obvious that this would be the crux of our whole trip There were a couple icy and steep sections along the traverse where we needed to be to our time getting across. We needed our ice axes for this section. At one point step really had to be kicked in for us to make it over to Spinnaker Peak. That being said we got incredible sunrise views and excellent ridge shots.
Once we hit the col we proceeded up with snowshoes to the true summit of Spinnaker. The snow was a little mixed but the views on the way up were excellent. The snow up here was at times either deep or contained a hard crust in the snow. By this time the views of the mountains were really coming out. Going up here was technically very easy but the snow made it slow going through this stretch. That being said we made it up to Spinnaker at 7:15 and took some great summit shots.
From Spinnaker to Magical Martin
From there we proceeded to the slightly smaller but dramatically more prettier Martin Peak. In actually Martin Peak is really more of a twin or sub-summit of Spinnaker Peak. The top is actually only 20 feet shorter than that of Spinnaker Peak. But the true summit of Martin is treeless and contains stellar 360 degree panoramas of the entire region. Heading down the snow on the southeast side of Spinnaker was still very well consolidated and throughout most of the down-climb we were able to make it safely down in good speed. Heading up Martin the snow was more of about a foot of powder followed by consolidated snow. It took a little effort but the scenery on the way gave us the power to make it through. We made it there at 8:15 am which was excellent because I did not have to worry about being late for work. Though Spinnaker was excellent, Martin with it 360 panorama rock was the highlight of one of the best days of hiking in a long time.
After Martin we headed back up Spinnaker and then decided to head down from the ridge at the col. We made our way quickly down Martin where we got a nice glissade to help us. Then we headed right up to a flat spot just south of the true summit. We stayed to the south of Spinnaker where excellent scenery was on display and the area was more open than the true summit. From there we headed right back down to the col.
Once we reached the col we decided to avoid the extra traverse back to Point 5261 and take our shot at heading down to the basin from the ridge. It turned out to be a great decision. Once going down we were again welcomed with excellent firm snow for a number of mini glissades which helped us get back to the basin in quick time. Most of the glissades were only twenty to eighty feet at a time but they really helped us make quick time on the way down the mountain.
Once in the basin, we ran into my good friend Magellan where I could give the entire great beta on the climb and where I talk him more about hiking. I knew he was coming up Martin and Spinnaker later in the date so I tried to help him out as much as I could. The good thing for his group was the trail was already broken in. This was a good help because later in the day the snow was supposed to turn into mash potatoes and the avy danger was going to continued to go up.
From there we continued down from the basin. Luckily it was still early enough that the snow had not warmed up too much to cause post-holing. We quickly crossed back over the two creek crossing and were back at the car at 11 am. This meant I had plenty of time to make it back to work. Tomorrow there would be time for that sleep thing?
I want to thank both Jimbopo and Josh Lewis for another excellent trip. This was clearly one of my better trips in a long time. Both did an excellent job on the trail. Jimbopo was probably the MVP of the group, breaking most of the trail uphill, while Josh will be the photography MVP taking stellar photographs with his camera. We really took advantage of the time between work and I feel spiritually, emotionally, and physically refreshed for work. Now though it is time for the work though.