Well as most of climbing partners know, my biggest weakness is bushwhacking and unroped scrambles over highly exposed areas. Well Bryan planned and executed the perfect trip to get me to fight both of these weakness a trip to both Mount Kent and McClellan Butte. It did not look good at first or much in the way of success especially for the summit of McClellan Butte in which we need dry rock in order to safely attempt the summit scramble. One slip or mistake on McClellan Butte would clearly be the last mistake on that mountain. Though it was cloud we figured on at least Mount Kent so we decided to head out and see what the results would be.
We headed up the newly rebuilt McClellan Butte trail which was in great condition. It was pretty smooth heading up the trail and though I was a little sore from hiking the previous day I we were making good pace up the trail. Once we reached the avalanche gully we did encounter a little snow but the gully were easy to navigate from the trail. No need for axes here and soon we were on or way to the our location to cutoff to Mount Kent. Once off the cutoff we saw where the road was and avoided it based on Redwic's report because it is considered part of the Cedar River watershed and it is illegal to be caught in the watershed. So we stayed clear of it and tackled a challenging bushwack to Alice Lakes where Bryan spotted a nice mountain goat.
We then went up the challenging talus and scree field all the way up to a small scree gully that lead to the top of the ridge. The there we headed right and took the ridge all the way to the true summit of Mount Kent. Bryan did a great job leading here and finding the path of least resistance as well as kicking steps in some of the steeper dirt areas to reach the summit of Mount Kent. Once we were on the summit Bryan and took notice that all of the clouds were beginning to lift and we noticed that McClellan Butte from free from the clouds. All the sudden our interested raised up to get a summit that has stopped us short before.
We signed the summit log which Redwic had put up there less than a year before took some time to enjoy the views and then decided to head back. Heading back down from the summit of Mount Kent was slow going. The steep wooded slopes needed some caution coming down. But Bryan did very well and picking the way through the slope and the ridge and we were soon back on the scree path. Once on the scree path we headed back to Alice Lake and grabbed a quick meal before continuing the bushwhack back to the trail. The bushwack was not much fun but we did make it back to the trail.
Well it is clear and both of us have a bone to pick with McClellan Butte so let's go for it. Once we were on the trail we headed for the summit. We ran into a fair amount of snow while traversing to the summit but footsteps were well kicked in and there was no real drop off below so we quickly made it to the summit block scramble.
What this picture doesn't show you is the 2000 foot drop off on the right side in which if you make a mistake you will be going down!
Once we got to the summit block scramble we both stared at the mountain that had stopped us both before. Bryan took lead here and quickly picked his way up the scramble. I was very nervous and almost stopped here but then came the thoughts of my successes of Rainier, Shasta and Hood and I knew I was more than capable of doing this scramble. I swallowed my fear, and headed up the scramble. I stayed focus on the rock which was full a great handholds on very solid rock. I quickly made it up to the ridge and joined Bryan on the final trek to the summit.
Once on the summit Bryan realized he had to get down off the mountain because there was a hiker's social in Seattle. So after ten minutes picture taking and taking in the views we decided to head on down the Butte. It was slow going for both of us but I just kept my eyes focused on the my backpack on the bottom of the scramble and not on the 2000 foot drop-off I would be falling if I did make a mistake. Soon I was back to my backpack and we were heading down the mountain at a good pace. Bryan is only a little more than an inch taller than I am but his legs are six inches longer which gives him great stride in the mountains. So I let him set a quick pace and just trail-runned behind him. It worked and we were off the mountain in little more than an hour. Soon we were both back in town, and sharing our stories at the hiker's social.
I want to thank Bryan for leading this trip and picking a good route up Mount Kent. He also did well on McClellan Butte. Now both of us are happy not only because we got two summit, but that we finally got to the summit of peak that stopped us before. Great trip and great time.