|Page Type:||Trip Report|
|Lat/Lon:||48.50790°N / 120.50351°W|
|Date Climbed/Hiked:||May 21, 2015|
North Gardner looked pretty straight forward except a few small sections that from a distance seemed like they might require some scrambling. Up close it didn't really get above class 2. There was one section of Gendarmes at about the low point between point 8487 and North Gardner that I bypassed by walking on snowy slopes to the east. There was a moat so I was a little cautious but it was basically walking. Fletcher and Heather opted for the class 3 scramble route which I took on the way back since the snow had softened significantly. The ridge walk to the summit was easy with a gentle breeze and we summited around 9am. The view was amazing up there but I spent most of the time taking video. Some birds were playing on a cornice near the summit. The register had signs it was stuck by lightning, a reminder of the forecast for later in the day.
Once at the bottom of a snow gulley that looked like it would go all the way to the summit we began ascending. After a couple hundred feet Fletcher and Heather left it in favor of easy class 2 scree since the snow was softening up making each step deeper. I followed them for a short while but the hard ground was too much for my knee so I went back into the snow and kicked steps up the snow to about 8,500'. Even though my route was parallel to theirs I had fallen behind a little bit so I pulled out my map and walked across some snow and scree to find them at the fairly wide and flat summit of Gardner. By this point it had warmed significantly and the clouds were becoming dark. We couldn't stay too long so we signed the register, Heather offered some snacks, got a cheesy photo in and went down as quickly as possible. Again, Heather and Fletcher went down the scree rib, screeing back to camp in less than 35 minutes while I took the glissade arriving only a couple minutes later. Probably the fastest descent I've done this year.
We would have loved to stay and chill the rest of the afternoon but the threat of a thunderstorm and work the next day had us packing to go pretty quickly. Heather was speedy and left before we had finished lunch. We said good-bye, filled up on water and gathered our gear for the march. Before we left Fletcher had a chat with a backpacker who was camping next to us. Apparently he met the bear we heard the day before and confirmed it was a cinnamon colored small bear. On our way out we used this information to be purposely noisy to avoid conflict when we came to the same spot a mile down the valley and heard the same animal noise. Not too much further along, the distant roll of thunder echoed off the mountains and the sky above Abernathy turned dark. We were glad not to see any precipitation (although it made me realize bringing a jacket wasn't necessary). The last 8 miles out were a bit of torture since the trail regained and lost elevation countless times. There are only two switchbacks in all that monotony. I can only imagine how Heather felt. We came across the lower spine of an animal that we saw on the way in. Possessing no taxonomy skill I couldn't identify it. Occasionally there were open sections on the trail with beautiful garden like displays. We both ran out of water and the last 5 miles were a grind. Finally arriving at the car in late afternoon, I was glad to have left a jug of water for post-hike re-hydration. Fletcher shared a beer to settle the pain and we chatted it up on the way home. All in all, this was actually a very pleasant hike and probably went the best it could have gone.