Fun ridge traverse from the north after ascending basin on ski from Gardner Meadows. The ski back to camp was the perfect finish.
Our initial plan was to do Buckner, but with Sahale Arm permits all taken up, we had to throw a hail mary. I needed to find an ideal location where my wife would be cool chilling at an idyllic base camp (she is not a climber; she would have chilled at Sahale Arm while I did Buckner) while I pursued a summit or two. North Gardner immediately came to mind, but having taken the Wolf Creek approach on my failed attempt a year ago (turned around by thunderstorms), I had no interest in revisiting that mundane and flat approach. I’d wondered about a scramble from Abernathy after reading Craig Weiland’s report a while back, so I decided to give it a go; Scatter Lake seemed a much better location for my wife to sit with her book. Thus we drove from Marblemount to the Scatter Lake Trailhead where we enjoyed supper and slept in the vehicle.
Our Friday morning ascent to Scatter Lake was uneventful as the trail is easy to follow. As we were the only ones at the trailhead, we knew we would have it all to ourselves. We made it in 3 hours on the nose and found a solid bivy spot at the far side of the lake, where I spent almost an hour filtering water and making sure my wife was set. There were a few black flies and bees at Scatter Lake, and while their numbers were small, they were surely aggressive.
I left the bivy bag at Scatter Lake, because while a bivy on North Gardner was enticing, I did not want my wife to worry all night. From the lake looking up toward Abernathy, it appeared to me there were 2 general options: a talus-filled gully to the left and a scree slope to the right. I appreciated the menu options and on this day selected the talus for its larger portion sizes. In reality I ended up threading a route between the two as I found a good deal of solid rock. A few others seem to have done the same. As I ascended I took note of other routes some have taken up various scree fields, but I am comfortable saying I found the route that required less effort and frustration. At about 7500' I came across a small family of goats; two adults and one kid. I had seen them watching me from above, and when I came near, they scattered. It seems these goats at least have not been introduced to human pushers when it comes to salt.
At 7700' the scree becomes inevitable, and at that point it becomes two steps forward and one step back. This was over soon enough, and I was on the ridge with a short walk to the summit of Abernathy. I made it from Scatter Lake in an hour.
As I sat at the summit, I had difficulty identifying the best route along the ridgeline. Descending to the first saddle took me a considerable amount of time as I would end up cliffed out and have to climb back up and find another route down. When I returned home, I looked back on Craig Weiland's GPS track and found that if I had descended for a short distance on the west side from the summit before descending to the north, I would have saved myself quite a lot of time and effort. Finally I made it down to the first saddle. From here a path was quite apparent, and it is clear that this route sees some traffic.
On my way out I noted all the mine tailings as I generally stuck to the ridgeline. Toward Point 7894, I opted for climber's right-hand side of the ridge and traced the contours before ascending Point 7921.
Once on Point 7921, I sat and contemplated my options. The scramble up to the next summit (which I later learned was Wolftit) seemed to me to be more highly exposed than I am comfortable doing on a solo trip. Additionally, my wasted time on the downclimb from Abernathy meant I would be finishing in the dark -- and I did not care to be picking my way along that ridgeline in the dark. Descending into Gardner Meadows was certainly an option, but the bushwhacking and more circuitous route would make for an even later night. I was not averse to using my emergency bivy, but it did not seem optimal -- and I would be confronted with a very worried spouse upon my return.
Thus I decided to hang up this half-cracked attempt of North Gardner and take satisfaction in summiting Abernathy. On the walk back along the ridgeline, I took some time to admire the mine remains, something I somehow missed on my way out. Once back to Abernathy, I noticed a potential path along the contours leading around Abernathy and I decided to give it a go. Here, too, it was apparent others have taken this route, and I clearly was not the first (nor even the second after Craig Weiland). This traverse on the contours was a bit tedious in the loose sections, and I cannot say for certain whether it would have been better simply to ascend to Abernathy's summit. It is probably 6-and-6 as they say.
In any case, once I ascended up to the ridgeline where I could once again see Scatter Lake, I quite happily plunge-stepped in the scree for most of the distance down. With about 1/3 of the distance left, I could no longer do this and had to pick my way back to our camp.
My wife and I took the remaining sunlight to observe the family of goats I had seen earlier picking their way along the talus and scree just above us. With such a pleasant evening, she slept in the bivy bag and I slept on a tent footprint. We awoke at various points to admire the stars above us. Shortly before sunset another couple found their way to Scatter Lake, and they were the only other ones there. They camped quite a distance from us, so we still felt as if we had it to ourselves. Clearly I made the right decision.
Hiked up to Scatter Lake, set up camp and then tagged the summit before dinner. Beautiful night.
Climbed from Gardner Meadows, via mine and north ridge
Climbed up a snow chute from Scatter Lake to the talus of the summit ridge. I had trekking poles and microspikes. The snow angle was fairly steep and a slip could have made for a bad day. The views from the top were outstanding, and there is a summit register. On the way back down I ran into the resident mountain goat. All in all an awesome summit with beautiful weather!
A nice scramble to a great view! Lake was frozen over, but snow made for good travel.
This was the last day of hiking season. Beautiful day with golden larches. Great views. Climbed from Scatter Lake Round trip from TH in 6.5 hours
Due to the snow we mistake the gully before the lake for the lake and grabbed only a side point. No summit this time. I should be back in the fall.
via Scatter Lake
That view was awesome! Pretty simple from Scatter Lake, but that scree is tedious. 1/100! (I'm 14, cut me some slack...:)
I remember looking at this peak from the Gardners and thinking it looked kind of tough but the Scrabble Lake approach made it seem pretty easy. Lot's of fun all the same. My 16th Bulger.
Scrambled from the lake. AWESOME views!!!
Lots of elevation gain, but the trail makes it very pain free and doable. The larches around a jewel of a lake make it very special. Great option during cool, unsettled conditions on the west slopes.