IntroductionInspired by Redwic’s great trip report of Lennox Mountain, zephyr2us and I decided to head up to Lennox Mountain to give this mountain a major shot. We had been doing a number of good winter snowshoes together and were game to step it up and tag a real good mountain. After seeing all of the great pictures from this mountain we knew that the views would be good and that the alpine terrain would be excellent for a trip up to the top. After our adventure the week before on Change and Greenway we felt that we were up to the task.
Zephy2us and I decided on a very early start in order to make sure that the snow was well consolidated on our way up. It was seasonally chilly with high humidity but still above freezing when we got started. We decided to take basically the same route that Redwic’s team went to climb to the summit of Lennox Mountain. Once we parked at the trailhead we noted that there were two roads one that went to the left and one that went to the right that is gated. We took the gated road to the right climbed up Lennox Mountain via the West Miller Fork Road. On the way up the snow at first was patchy in spots with other parts of the road being a virtual stream. We actual did not need our snowshoes for the first ¼ mile up the road. Once the snow got more consistent we put on our snowshoes and continued up the roadway for three miles taking in the occasional great views of the river below.
Once we got the base of the valley we were supposed to go up we spotted the snowshoe prints of Redwic’s group heading up. We stayed on the prints and followed them up a steeper slope and through a group of trees the trip until we ran into another road. From there we head up the road which at times now was partly melted out as well. We continued up the road for a little bit up the valley where views of some of the surrounding peaks started to open up. As soon as they opened up we ran right up to the foot of large debris from a recent avalanche. From there we followed the footprints of the other party as they started up the mountain. As the slope started to get steep we knew the real climb was about to being.
The Beginning of the Real Climb!
Now here comes the real climb. This steep section requires 2400 feet of elevation gain in just one mile over slippery, crappy and unpredictable snow. Some of the snow was hard, some of it was powder, but all of it was quiet a workout. Though it was 50 degrees outside at this point it felt like a hundred. The one saving grace here was the fact that it was not completely sunny at the time, otherwise we might have turned back here. We tried both snowshoes on and off and snowshoes on turned out the better choice. But heading up this steep wooden slope was aggrevating to say the least. During this time I literally daydreamed myself up this peak in order to distract myself from what I was actually doing. At about 4800 some views started to open up and by 5200 feet the views were in full scale.
We were both blasted by this steep section and had to take many breaks heading up this major incline. But once we made to where Coney Lake was we were very relieved because the summit was in our sights now. With the brutal uphill behind us we looked at following Redwic’s route up to the summit. One problem came up though which is the first time in my twelve year of hiking and climbing-snow blinding the slopes and depths of slope. There were no tracks up here and due to the cloudy skies, very few trees or rocks and the constant snow we real had very little depth perception of if we were on a slope if we were to go uphill or downhill steeply. This raise concern flags for heading over to the false summit because we were concerned that there could potentially be a steep drop-off that we see on our left side. So because of that we decided to go across the frozen lake and head up to the ridge to the north of Coney Lake to the summit. Once we go to the ridge it was time for us to head for the summit.
The weather at this point was really beginning to cloud up and weather was starting to move in. Both Zephyr2us and I were trying to move fast so that we could beat the weather moving in. But the pain from the earlier ascent was really kicking our butts. The ridge though did help us get our depth perception back again because we now able to judge slopes again. With the trip up now in full view we climbed up Lennox Mountain right up the ridge. To be there is nothing more wonderful in life that going up a nice snow-covered alpine slope to summit. This last leg of Lennox Mountain delivered that to us. Slowly but surely we found ourselves on top of Lennox Mountain.
Not Greeted On The Summit So Nicely! :(The whole way up the mountain even though it was cloudy the cloudy were well above the summit of all the peaks. Literally just as we got to the summit of Lennox Mountain we were greeted by clouds. This has only happened one other time to me (Black Tusk) and the unfortunate situation there was that the clouds never lifted. The wind on the mountain also picked up which was really our now comprised body in worst way. For two minutes though we were happy we made it up this amazing trip to the summit we were completely bummed by the fact that we felt the mountain robbed us. With the occasional snowflake hitting us we decided that we only eat some food for a minute and head off.
Then thankfully the clouds lifted and we could see some of the excellent view that this mountain delivers. Though we could only see 50% of what can be seen on a clear day we were very happy with what we saw. This mountain clearly is a magical landscape and a special place to be. Though the mountain requires a lot of effort, the results are amazing. Maybe someday in the future I might head back here in the summer. Zephyr2us and I decided to spend a couple minutes longer and take more time to enjoy the great broad summit. But the heavy wind and the off and on snowflakes were starting to take their toll on us so it was time for us to head off this summit.
Brutal Downhill Climb
Ever heard of the motto “Once you make the summit you are halfway there”. On this trip that motto was so true. By the time we started to head off the mountain the wind was howling and the wind chill was starting to hit us pretty bad. Going down the ridge was not too bad and we were able to take a couple more views. We were able to do a nice glissade from ridge down to Coney Lake. Once on the lake we ran into that snow-blindness we had earlier in trip. It was quiet eerie walking across the lake waiting for uphill on the other side. Right at the edge of lake my leg nearly fell into a deep moat. Once of the lake we carefully head up the slope and out of the Coney Lake area.
But that was easy compared to what we had to go down afterword. Once passed the lake we had a steep climb down. The weather picked up a little dropping some light snow on us on the way down. This at first wasn’t that bad for some of it we could even glissade from time to time. But once we got into the trees this climb down was downright nasty. The different variety of snows from crusty to mushy made going down a nightmare. It took us almost the same amount of time getting down this slope as it did going up. Add on the steep wooded slopes, and tree wells and it felt like we were walking through a mine field. The pain going down this steep slope temporarily question why I like doing these sort of climbs. I think more than once I told zephyr2us jokingly “Why don’t we do something easier next time, like Mount Hood”. Don’t get me wrong. Hood is not easy and many climbers have died or been injured but in the four times I have been there I never even remotely experience the pain from Hood like did from this downhill.
When we hit the road we were very relieved. But we still had three more miles of slushy sloppy miles back to the car. And now we were running out of time because the sun was going to set in just a couple of hours. The never ending messy slog played with our minds and tired bodies as we continued back to the car. Every movement just tore at us and all we could think about at this point was the car. The only blessing here was the fact that the sun was not glaring at us. To not let this section get to me, I decided to daydream about the food I was going to have after the hike. Then just before sunset came the great site around, our car! Hooray we made it back!!!
ConclusionAfter enjoying a delicious pizza from Rico’s Pizza we able to fueled enough to make it back home safely. If there is one thing I can say about this trip is that it is often the smaller summits in Washington State that offer the large challenges that prepare for the big mountains. Lennox Mountain was one such peak. But the beautiful mountain is well worthwhile and the views from it are amazing.
I also want to thank Zephyr2us for going on the trip and being a great teammate during the trip. There would have little chance I would have made this summit by myself. Over the years we hiked together we have been a good team and summited over two dozen mountains. This one was one of our toughest trips to date but one of the most rewarding. It was great to knock off another wonderful mountain.