Cadet Peak Attempt, March 20th, 2010
My good friend Cham and I attempted Cadet Peak on March 20th, 2010. This area had recently received 18" of fresh snow 6 days ago. We hiked in Friday night via Monte Cristo Trailhead (2,800’) and camped at the old Monte Cristo town site (3,200’). This is 4 easy miles with only 400’ of elevation gain. We camped really late Friday night, which affected our wake up time for Saturday morning. Note to self; Cadet Peak is 15 miles roundtrip and requires some time, especially slogging through snow. We left the old town site on Saturday around 7am and headed the rugged climbers trail to Glacier Basin (4,500’). This is roughly 2+ miles from the town site. The trail is more of a scramble going over and around Mystery Hill. There is rope tied off in a couple areas going up icy rock slabs. It seems like this section would be a lot easier (quicker) in the summer mainly because of the particular snow conditions. We continued to use tree belays here and tried to avoid countless tree wells and sink holes. It was really sloppy and slow to say the least. When we could, we found it easier to stay out of the trail bottom. Once to the Basin, we found the house size boulders. We then took a left and went up the STEEP gully and post holed for hours averaging between our knees and thighs. We didn’t bring our snowshoes, which would have been great for Glacier Basin, but it was too steep for them going up the gully anyhow. We got to a spot at around 6,000' +/-. This is where we weighed our options and decided to turn back. Clouds were coming in, we had 1 hour left on our agreed turn back time and it would have taken probably another 2.5 hrs to summit. At this point we also saw confirming signs of significant snow loading and avalanche danger. There were also many spots where it was becoming evident of ice caves forming under the snow. This started playing mind games with me, as far as falling through. We mainly saw them up against rock walls, where the streams were melting under the snow. Some spots had a thin layer and were then 10-12 feet deep. We tried to stay away from those conditions, but one spot we had to get close to continue up. It was a long trek probably around 14 miles roundtrip. I think it would have helped if we camped closer to the Glacier Basin earlier on Friday night, and left camp at 4am or 5am on Saturday morning. If we would have done this, I think we would have had a possible summit. We have no regrets turning back and it was an amazing time. We got high enough on Cadet to have some amazing views and are so blessed to have the Mountains so close to home.
Cham taking a rest just above Glacier Creek. Cham heading toward Glacier Basin with the early morning sun and towering Wilmans Peaks. Cham goin up Cadet. Looking down at Glacier Basin. Steep!!!