The Trip Report
Well it was 10 pm on Saturday and everyone was wondering what mountain to do. We originally were looking at doing Eldorado due to a number of absolutely incredible trip reports coming from the summit, but with a recent storm that came through the area and dumped a foot of snow on the mountain and the avalanche danger raised to considerable, Eldorado was knocked off the list. So which peak should be do next. Well after a lot of debate we agreed upon Middle Chiwaukum. Josh, Mike and I were familiar with this summit three weeks before when we fell short of the summit Middle Chiwaukum and settled for Point 7132 (North Chiwaukum as I discovered later). From North Chiwaukum we just stared at the summit of Middle Chiwaukum and stared in the defeat of the mighty mountain. For us this was a rematch of the mountain.
On this trip it was Gimpilator, Josh, Mike, Robin and I. We arrived at the trailhead at 6:30 am after a hairy ride on an ice road to the trailhead. Thankful Robin's car had traction tires otherwise this trip in wouldn't stopped before it started. We got ourselves ready and hit the road early. It should be noted that the road walk up to main climb is around the same distance as the actually climb. However with very little elevation gain and loss this road walk often only take an hour to complete. It is basically a none issue but you do gets some good views of nearby mountains from this road.
Once at the trailhead we saw the footprints that we made the last time and begun to head up the mountain. As stated from the last trip report this section was very icy and the micro spikes and crampons broke out early. They stayed on up the steeper section of the trail until about 4500 feet when the snow got thicker and much less icy. The slope though remained very steep and it took the total team this time to broke trail. It was Josh though who was the strongest, followed by Gimpilator and Mike here and broke the most trail but everyone helped brake the trail. By 6000 when we hit the ridge the snow was fairly deep in spots. Coming out on the ridge stellar views were wide open with Middle Chiwaukum showing up in view at 6200 feet.
We hit a bump just before North Chiwaukum and Gimpilator decided to check the snow here for avalanche issues. The test was not promising at all. The snow here was very avalanche prone. It was decision time right here and it was head straight to the summit of North Chiwaukum and revaluate or bag it right there. Gimpilator broke out his avalanche probe and his shovel and decide to give it to one of us and took lead on the trip. He headed up to Point 7130 only to find the snow to be much more stable. Robin a little scared of the situation decide to stay back with her down and her ten essentials and emergency gear. The rest of us followed Gimpilator only after checking with Robin to make sure she was 100%.
It was on Point 7130 we discovered that the snow was substantially more firm and safer. From there we went across the wide ridge all along giving look at the grand summit of Middle Chiwaukum. The views were very breathtaking but to honest I tried to get them out of my mind and focus on the summit and the task at hand.
Once we got shoulder of Middle Chiwaukum we took a look at the task at hand. Chiwaukum Ridge looked quiet intimidating from below. We changed into crampons here and decided to go for it! One thing I have learned over the years is that these final climbs often look more intimidating than they often are. I discovered this with Painted Mountain and I was hoping this was the case. Gimpilator though took it very slow up the ridge here and solved the puzzle of this ridge like a magician. Take one slow step at a time he broke it down. Once over that crux we were on an easier slow heading to the corniced summit.
With couple steps we were on the true summit of Middle Chiwaukum. We looked for the summit log but could not find it due to the new snow that has fallen in the past week. None of us wanted to put too much effort because the summit was very close to a cornice with a mighty huge drop-off. Once top we enjoyed stellar views of hundreds of peaks including, Big Chiwaukum, Mount Daniel, and Mount Rainier. To be honest this view on this day had to be one of the best views I have ever seen. We didn't stick around long but for the time we were on top it was pure nirvana. It is times like this that all of us put the effort into climbing. A special thanks here to Gimpilator for being a strong leader and getting us safely to the top.
Getting to the top though is only half way. Now we have to head down the mountain and with the addition of Point 7130 that was nearly 6000 feet of elevation. We were tired but we knew the task at hand. It was now time to start our journey down the mountain. Getting down from the summit ridge was much easier than getting up. The ridge was easy enough so that we did not have to down climb it. We were still cautious on heading down from the summit but much more comfortable. We cruised to the base of 7130 but the small 300 foot climb to 7130 became very tiring most of us and it ate up a lot of energy. So once on top of Point 7130 we took yet another small 5 minute break to refuel.
After that we headed down and picked up Robin who was comfortable looking at us from a viewpoint on the ridge. There we put on our snowshoes and cruised down the fresh snow slopes. It was very an enjoyable snowshoe decent until we got off the major ridgeline. The trip here was a little more slippery with powder slowly giving way to ice. We kept our snowshoes on to about 4500 feet but were falling all over the place until that point. It was hard to get much balance on the snow and often I was on my backside than on my feet. Even after 4500 when we bare booted down to 3900 feet I was using a ton of energy heading down this slope.
Finally at 3900 feet out came back the crampons and heading down became MUCH EASIER. Josh stayed with me here and we kept the crampons on all the way to the bottom where it was now getting dark. For the road on the way back I decided on snowshoes. It was a warmer day and I had little strength at this point to be post holing on a road walk. Plus I figured I could gather a lot of speed here because the road a gentle grade. I think this was the correct call because Josh and I were able to race on back and almost catch up with the others. An added bonus is that it was a full moon and though I broke out my headlamp. The headlamps were not really needed.
Once back at the car I realize I was very over exhausted. Though I ate and drank more than I ever had before I had use a lot of energy. Once in the car I refueled on electrolytes and snacks and took a large nap in the car back to my friends place. I was very overtired the next day but now am slowly getting myself back to form. That being said I want to thank everyone for coming today. Josh did some great trail breaking while Gimpilator took over and safely broke a route to the summit of Middle Chiwaukum. Robin did awesome too and we want to thank her for the ride and for coming out to give this peak a shot. Next time Chiwaukum will be yours!! Awesome work team and a great summit.