The Snowy State of the Union
A special thanks to QuetzalCoatl for letting me borrow his snowshoes.
As many reports will state on this day, the weather was pretty bad today. We were first electing to do Cleveland Mountain because we had no idea how bad Stevens Pass was but after seeing that it was not that bad we decided to do Union and possibly Jove instead. We realized that on Cleveland Mountain we would encounter a ton of rain, which makes for crappy conditions. Good call by the other team member on changing the mountain.
We were very happy to pull up to the Smithbrook Road to find that the precipatation coming down was snow. Heading up the smithbrook was rather easy at first. I put my snowshoes on from the get-go but the rest of the group booted it up. Most of the way up the Smithbrook Road was bootable but towards the end snowshoes clearly helped out. The road was where I received the best views of the day and when the weather was the friendliest.
Once off the roughly 3 mile slog off the road we headed up the first major incline to a flat spot well before Union Gap. This way to the gap was much easier than the route we did last year. Josh led the whole way up here and soon we were up to the flat spot. The snow was wet and deep but Josh kicked in a good trail for us. Once up past the flat spot we continue took a left and head to the right straight up the slope to attain the ridge high up. Michael lead much of the way here with Josh and I taking over near the top. The snow here was thick, the terrain was steep but the route was straight forward as we rose to about 5400 feet on the ridge. It was a tougher stretch but we did very well to get to ridge here.
Once on the ridge we continued straight for the summit of Union. Though we didn't have to go far the thick deep heavy wet snow made for tough conditions as we worked hard and well as a team to kick-step in the heavy snow to the summit of Union. I want to say that this was probably one of the harder half-mile I have been through in a while. We kept on heading up and made it through the thick, deep wet snow to the summit of Union Peak.
The weather this point was really going down quickly on the summit. It was very nasty weatherwise on top with near white-out conditions and a brutally cold wind. The snow was thick as well and there were no views to speak of. Without [b]ANY [/b] hesitation we decided to turn around. We got a summit and continue on would be totally miserable and foolish.
Heading down was much easier than going up. We just glided downhill and it was much faster coming down. At parts of the trip we actually had good glissades on the way down. It was actually quiet a fun trip heading down in the thick snow. There were a number of sections that we had some good mini-glissades and otherwise good rides. We were three times quicker going down than coming up here.
After the fun times heading down the snowy slopes of Union Peak we hit the long slog back on Smithbrook. While on the road we realized how much the weather had deteriorated, because it was snowing much harder on the way down and clearly the snow was now sticking well to the surface. It was a very wet snow and towards the very bottom it started to mix in with rain lucky it did not ever completely change over because we would have been miserable. Thank goodness we did not do Cleveland Mountain. That would have been a rainfest. We made it back to the car headed on back to join some Little Ceasar's Pizza on the way back.
Strong work by all here. Heading up Union was not easy on the last bit but we picked the right route and Josh and Mike did a good job kicking up steps up the steep section. On the last bit it was clearly teamwork which led us to the summit of Union. Clearly in better weather we would have continued to Jove, but the weather was nasty on Union and it would have been unpleasant and miserable if not downright dangerous to continue to Jove. It will be there for another day. Awesome job, great trip and great teamwork!!!!