I'm not sure how popular this mountain is now that it's 11 miles RT further away from the trailhead than it used to be. For those of you who don't know, a section of the Dosewallips Road was wiped out by high water several years ago, now requiring additional pack-in hiking on what used to be the road. There are various options in the air for re-routing the road but all i understood at base is that it's going to be very expensive and that there will be environmental issues. We did meet two groups headed that way at the trailhead (that's now where the road abruptly ends) but then never saw either of them again.
Our plan was to push it the first day around 14 miles to Honeymoon Meadows, then possibly take a rest day or move camp up to Camp Siberia near Anderson Pass. A bit of lugging heavy packs convinced us that lighter packs all the way from Honeymoon Meadows to the top might be just the trick.
Some lingering late season rain characteristic of this summer followed us but by the time we reached Diamond Meadows it was clear that the high pressure predicted was building in.
After gaining a cruel 700 feet in the last mile we called it good at Honeymoon Meadows and waited to see the decision of the weather gods.
There were clouds clinging to the ridges we could see the next morning and we figured better take the chance when we had it so at 6 a.m. the 6 of us headed to Anderson Pass and beyond.
Anderson Pass is amid classic alpine meadows and we hit it just about right - lush foliage, wildflowers near the peak of bloom, hidden creeks gurgling through the scene. Then you top out on the ridge overlooking Anderson Glacier and suddenly...........you're on the moon. The glacial moraine left behind by the Anderson Glacier is flat, gray and barren. We dropped into it and quickly hiked to the foot of the Anderson Glacier. Can't say much for it either. Maybe it was just a low snow year. Maybe Anderson Glacier is giving up the ghost to global warming. In any event we had very little to work with. In looking at old photos and reading guidebooks i was under the impression you could just ramp off the snow to Flypaper Pass. No such luck for us. We had our choice of three snow fingers and fortunately picked the one on the far left. We discovered later that the other two would not have gone. We climbed some reasonably steep snow a short distance then jumped off onto the rocks and scrambled our way over high 3rd/low4th rock and ample but exposed ledges to the Pass. From there it resembled "normal" glacier travel. The bergschrund was present but not an obstacle and we made the drop down the Eel Glacier (book said 200 feet and that seemed about right) and around the lowest rock band to a straight shot to the summit block. From the saddle we topped out on we went west to the summit, the snow we were traversing getting ever steeper as we neared the summit block. At an arbitrary comfortable point we hopped off the snow and did some 4th class scrambling to the summit.
The descent was another matter however. Upon returning to the pass we saw that the whole south side was socked in. We had decided not to go back the way we came but to try our chances with the snow gullies we had not tried. After a LOT of skittering along scree covered rock we found a notch that needed a short belay. That and more unpleasant downclimbing brought us to the snow. From there we were home free.
As we hiked back to camp the sky cleared in earnest and we wondered if a rest day might not have been a good idea after all. We pulled into Honeymoon Meadows at 8:30, just enought light left to cook up dinner.
For some strange reason, no matter how beautiful the weather is, people i climb with rarely want to hang around once the summit is in our pocket. This group was no exception. We staged a quick but not death march packout, arriving back at the trailhead/washout having done, including the climb, 41 miles in 3 days. Only then did we realize we had done nearly the equivalent of Olympus in 3 days.
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