Endless Beauty on Stetattle Ridge

Endless Beauty on Stetattle Ridge

Page Type: Trip Report
Lat/Lon: 48.76946°N / 121.1556°W
Date Climbed/Hiked: Feb 18, 2010
Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering
Season: Winter

The Adventure

"I can't have the adventure of a life time just once!" I exclaimed after having this adventure.

When I first heard the news about going to Sourdough Mountain I was very much excited because I knew what area the mountain was located... the North Cascades, home of some of the most beautiful peaks in Washington. I wake up at about 4:20 a.m. to get ready, and at 5:00 a.m. Joanna picks me up, the reason we left so early was because it takes around 2.5 hours to get to the trail head.

Pyramid Peak from Diablo
Snowfield Peak from the Trail head

Coloniel Peak in Winter
Colonial Peak

When we get to the trail head I could see Colonial Peak glowing, we knew we were in for a good day. Our pace up the trail started out real good, we both were amazed at how fast we were flying up the mountain. On a normal mountain usually there is less slope so you have to go more distance to get more elevation, but here it was quite easy to make. About an hour and a half in according to Joanna's altimeter we had made over 2,000 feet. At around 4,000-4,500 feet we started hitting snow. I thought zipping off my pant legs into shorts would be a good idea, and then putting gaiters over that, later I ended up regretting that idea, but at least I now know better. Some parts were a little icy, and others I was sinking a little. We found a ski trail which was not only good for showing the way, but was icy which provided well for not sinking in. The sun was now hot over us, and soon we started sinking which is when we decided to put on our snowshoes.

The Summit of Mount Davis
The Summit of Mount Davis

West McMillan Spire in Winter
West McMillan Spire

Looking to the East
Looking to the East

I realized at least from my point of view that it did not make much of a difference who broke trail, when ever Miss Iris broke trail it did not make it a whole lot easier for me which is why I decided I might as well. As we headed up we came across what Miss Iris called the Crux, unlike most years it was a lot more melted out. I gave the ridge a try but as I was going I started to slip and I knew it was not going to be a very safe ridge, especially with the cornice above. So what we did was head under the ridge and then up though some trees. I started to worry as I was going up because some of my steps were slipping back, it would not be that big of a deal, but falling in shorts and a short sleeve shirt in snow is not my version of fun.

Snowfield and Coloniel Peak
Snowfield Peak Panorama

Elephant Butte
Elephant Butte

After this we get back on the ridge, no cornices at this point thank goodness. As we go up I realize I was starting to get cold, not because of it actually being cold, but due to the cold breeze. I end up having to take off my snowshoes, gaiters, and boots. Now I had my pant legs back on which felt good, putting everything back on was a pain, and my hands became numb or almost numb a few times. I will admit it took a little while to put everything back on because I would have to keep putting my hands under my arms to warm them up, and it was a bit painful. Miss Iris gave me a hot pack which helped, and then we headed further up to a view point. Joanna did not go further earlier while I was putting on my gear because she knew I would love the sight of the wind blown slope untouched.

Wind Blown Slopes Panorama
Wind Blown Slopes All Around us

We got to a point on the ridge were we could make a choice, "we could summit, or" looking over my left shoulder "we could go further up the ridge because it has more beauty". I'm pretty sure EastKing would have went for the summit because there was no worry, but I choose beauty instead. For some reason this reminds me of a quote "A Fork in the road, I choose the road less traveled by, it has made all the difference." -Robert Frost
The ridge actually went higher than the summit itself which made me wonder why they chose Sourdough to even be a summit. As we went further and further East the beauty kept getting better and better. At one point looking at all the mountains all around it felt endless! Once I knew that we were heading for some of the far off points I was thrilled at this point, for some reason there was a new feeling in me, I was surged with energy and wanted to explore as much of the ridge as I possibly could.

Stetattle Ridge Panorama
Stetattle Ridge Panorama

Mount Challenger during Winter
Looking over at Mount Challenger

Feeling Good
Feeling Great!

It got late in the day and we were pretty high up, we decided to call it good, according to Joanna we gained 6,000 feet of elevation during this trip. One of the down sides of the trip was for the past few weeks I have not been able to find my camera charger so the camera was low on power. I would take a dozen photos then the camera would run out of power, I would warm it up with my hands and get a few more photos until I got what I wanted. At least I got almost 100 photos, and most importantly experienced the beauty of this place. The decent was fun as well, we had much conversations (we had some on the way up as well) and the view was something we could never get tired of. For a while I was in my own thoughts going down and then I would remember again that I was in the mountains which brought a huge smile to me.

Looking Down Stetattle Ridge
Looking down the Ridge

Joanna on Stetattle Ridge
Joanna Happy to see these views

After passing the crux and such to our amazement there was another guy spending the night up, he was in for a nice sunset. We had a few spots that were icy, but it was decent for the most part. Once on the trail I was flying down the mountain... well then I would end up having to slow down. The Sunset was also gorgeous, photographing some of the peaks thought the trees was difficult because I had to zoom in a deal, then hold the camera steady, focus it, and then it would end up running out of power! I would wait a moment and then have just enough power to capture the photo before it ran out of power. It was interesting to see how long the tips of the peaks remain glowing. We soon had our headlamps on.

Sunset on Snowfield Peak
Pink Glows through the Trees

Snowfield Peak during Evening
Snowfield Peak during Evening

Somewhere along the line, probably around 2,000-3,000 feet high one of Joanna's snowshoes fell off. We found this out as I was having a noise bleed which fortunately she had tissues to help. Soon we were at the car. On the drive home before Marblemount Joanna noticed something that felt like a bite, it was a tick! We pulled over and I saw it crawling on her, I never knew they were so big, perhaps because it had already gotten it's meal, but flicking it off of her was worrisome. We were both worried about ticks being on us on the way home, fortunately we did not encounter any more. Miss Iris also bought me some more chocolate milk and a meal on the way home. Once again a very fun trip, this was among the most beautiful of ones I've done this year! A Huge thanks to Joanna for taking me and being great company!


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RokIzGud - Jan 28, 2011 3:20 pm - Voted 10/10


Very cool photos Josh! This is an awesome trip report!

Josh Houser

Josh Houser - Jan 30, 2011 12:13 am - Hasn't voted

Re: :)

Thanks Collin! It was a pretty cool trip, and very beautiful place! I would like to go further in one of these days.

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