The scree was much less awful than I had expected, and the finger traverse was surprisingly fun. Trip report.
Made it to the top via the standard route. Was a bit foggy on the way up
Tried it twice, don't think I'll be going back. A bit out of my comfort zone.
Extremely fun climb on a beautiful peak.
Trip report: here.
This peak is very complex and there are cliff faces everywhere on the upper mountain. We climbed the north chute and finger traverse on the way up and then took the terrible traverse and south chute on the way down. A bad snow patch south of the terrible traverse blocked our path. Rather that climb steep icy snow we free climbed a short pitch of unprotectable mid-5th class rock to get around it. We carried rope, crampons, and axes but didn't use them. This is my new favorite climb in the Olympic Range.
Route is scree until the second notch (when the actual summit block becomes visible), then one must either descend steep snow with rocks at the bottom or descend the moat on the left about 20 feet and scramble up and over the rock rib with some 4th-low 5th class moves. After being belayed down this snow I determined that it would not be safe without a rope as the snow was very icy and difficult even with crampons and an axe. With the amount of snow still up there (probably 10 to 15 feet at this section) it is unlikely this section will melt out at all this year. My partner did the scramble and the rest of the route to the summit block was pretty straightforward (we took the FT Bypass as described on the south chute description on this page). The block itself required a few 4th class rock climbing moves to reach the true summit which we did unroped. On the way back we both scrambled over the rib to get to the notch instead of going up the snow I went down. From here it was awesome scree skiing down to the lake. Biking to the trailhead was a great decision as we made it from the TH to the washout in about 10 minutes.
Used the Tunnel Creek trail,ascended the south fork of the creek to an upper basin, took Cunningham pass down to canyon littered with plane wreckage debris from the 1975 crash below the SE face of Constance, took a gnarly scree shute up to meet up with the south chute route just NE of the Cat Ears. Took the Finger Traverse on the ascent, it was no big deal, people exaggerate its difficulty, very exposed, yes, but very short and very easy moves, not worth bringing gear for the few moves. Took the Terrible Traverse on the descent, this on the other hand is a bit sketchy, probably a 45 degree traverse on very hard snow with a nasty drainage below, a short distance to self arrest, used crampons and serious self belaying, still not worth bringing gear for though in my opinion. Tunnel Creek trailhead to base camp in upper basin: 2.5hrs. Base camp to summit: 4.5hrs. Summit to car: 6hrs (including base camp pack up/lunch) Also climbed April Peak the evening before summit sunday :) SUCH a fun climb.
Didn't like the look of the Finger Traverse. Used the variation now described on page 115 of the OMCG. Wonderful dayhike - not sure if that's still possible now that the road is gone?
Third try at this peak. Don't underestimate the route finding or approach. No need for the fingers on the finger traverse.
Was very happy to finally climb this peak that I'd looked at from the waters of Puget Sound for so long. Rode bikes up the road to the trailhead. Very steep hike up to the lake. A lotta work up, very cool to do both the finger traverse and terrible traverse, as well as some of the top of the west ridge. I think the hike down is worse than up, and overall I was more thrashed by this than many higher mountains.
Great peak, done long ago. Pictures and route map at http://www.willhiteweb.com/washington_climbing/olympic_mountains/hood_canal/mount_constance_078.htm