The Queen is at Stake for the King to Conquer
Yes it was yet another tough half day at work. So what is the best way to deal with the situation, climb to peaks and enjoy the adventure. On this trip with me were fellow SPer Jimbopo and Gabe. It was a nice rare warm morning in Seattle so we all knew we had to capitalize on this day because temperatures have been well below average this year. I decided to go to a place I consider to be most reliable The Crystal Mountain Ski Area. There I knew I could get a good quality adventure, have killer views, glissade great runs and be heading home well before dark.
We reached the resort right at noon when the resort is at its warmest part of the day. Luckily the ski resort trails were compact so we were not post holing much. That being said we still put on our snowshoes and followed the closed ski trails up the mountain. Speedster Gabe took a dramatic lead on us and cruised ahead here. From there we picked up a snow grooming trail and follow that all the way small gap between the Summit House and the true summit of Grubstake Peak. Because Gabe was so far ahead of us Jimbopo just decided to head for the Summit House to check on Gabe while I hit the summit of Grubstake to take a couple of pictures then head on over to the nearby Summit House to check on the other two. Apparently Gabe while waiting for us decided to tag Grubstake Peak on his travels as well.
The Summit of Grubstake and the ski resort Summit House
We met back at the Summit House where we then discussed heading over to Silver Queen. Silver Queen the second highest peak in the Crystal Mountain group was looking very tempting. We got down the col a little way and looked for a good way up the mountain. We decided to climb up to the ridgeline and traverse the ridge to the summit. We later found out this is route was closed off to hikers during winter and spring because of serious avalanche conditions. There in writing this I am not advising others to take this route. That being said on our trip this route was in spectacular condition and the snow was in great for booting all the way to the summit.
Conquering the Silver Queen
On this section Jimbopo took lead heading up the ridge with me second and a now very tired Gabe in the background. For Gabe this was one of his true snow climbing experiences. We stayed away from the large cornices on the left and followed the ridge all the way to the true summit of Silver Queen. If it wasn’t for the closed lift below us we would have really had a true summit experience. This summit was clearly the best viewpoint of the trip and we had great shots of both Adams and Mount Rainier. All of us got to enjoy the views and take some awesome hero pictures from Silver Queen.
Warning: Cliffs Ahead
After spending 30 minutes on the summit it was time to head down. Since we were on a steeper slope we decided to make a wet sloppy glissade down to the bottom. We figured since we hit a lift hill we would have a safe glissade now. Again Jimbopo took lead and Gabe this time went second. Gabe was the least experienced so we had in go in the middle between all of us. I then would be the last to check up on everyone as we headed down the mountain.
On the way down the mountain Jimbopo noticed in mid glissade warning of cliffs below. This signed forced him to make a quick arrest luckily only 50 before a major cliff. Gabe of course took his time on the glissade. For Gabe it was only his third glissade ever and by far the largest glissade he has ever been on. This time he took it slow and smart and took the glissade right up to Jimbopo. Another thing working in Gabe favor is the fact that the snow was very soft by now and moving on it was much slower. I caught up with them when Jimbopo told me the news. From that point on we side traversed over until we found another safe place to finish our glissade down to the bottom. The last glissade was the better glissade as we travelled between two cliffs on our way to the valley.
Once in the valley we decided to take a couple of ski trails back to the parking area. It was great getting a combination of a fast paced walk and a number of glissades on ski trails back to the car. A number of these glissades were quiet fast and with the trail being groomed all winter the spring runs here were nearly perfect for a good glissade. When were not glissading, we were all making a quick race to the parking area. After getting in the car nursing a couple sunburns wear we missed when we put on our sunscreen we headed back to dinner and talked about the great double peak adventure that we had.
Overall this was a great trip. The trip had two more summits successfully completely, a great glissade, a good snow climb, and most importantly two great companions. I want to thank Gabe and Jimbopo for heading out to another excellent adventure. Hope to continue the trend on getting awesome summits!!