What we climb for!
Ever since I moved to Washington State back in 2007 I have been eyeing Mount Townsend in the Olympic Mountains. Unfortunately because it is on the other side of the Olympics I have had a lot of obstacles trying to motivate people to check out this popular mountain. This past weekend it was yet another beautiful weekend in the Pacific Northwest and finally I was able to motivate one of my friends Cyohma to head up this normally popular mountain. If anything it was quiet warm with temps in the 70’s and lower 80’s and a strong sun. We knew there was going to be some good snow still on this mountain so we decided to bring our winter gear.
The Climb Up
We both were trying to figure higher trailhead was melted out. Unfortunately just as we got to the road leading to the trailhead we saw that the road was still snow-covered. From there we parked on the side of the road and then started to head up the partly snow-covered road up to the trailhead. The extra mile one way or two roundtrip turned out not to make much impact on this mountain. We walked to the trailhead in less than 20 minutes despite some of the snow. Once we hit the trailhead we got on the trail as it headed up the mountain. The trail itself had some patchy snow and some bear ground. Once we got 1000 feet higher we put on micro-spikes which dramatically improved our traction heading up the mountain trail.
Starting to head up!
Around 4600 feet up the trail it phased out by a beautiful waterfall. From there the mountain became a steeper snow-climb up an avalanche chute. It was 1:00 pm and the sun was at its strongest. And despite having my face covered with SPF 50 my face was feeling the impacts of the sun. Here comes 1500 feet of a steep snow-climbing. At this point the snow was quiet slushy so we decided to follow the track to try to avoid as much post holing as possible. Every step head up this steep slush fest was tiring but the views which were already good below became amazing once we kept getting higher on the mountain. All we could think about was the amazing glissade we were going to have going down the mountain. We hit the crux around 5300 feet up which lead up to a 40 degree snow-climb for a couple hundred feet.
Cyohma heading up
Once above this crux the angle eased a little and we only had to go a couple hundred feet to the open snow free trail area on the ridge. From there we picked up the partly snow-covered trail which went all of the way to the summit via a very gentle grade.
On the ridge
An Hour and Half on the Summit
Cyohma on the summit
Once we made it to the summit of Mount Townsend we were able to enjoy excellent views of the nearby Olympics as well as Canada to the north and the distant Cascades to the east of us. The nice temperatures and warm breezes were very welcoming to us and with no one else on this normally popular trail we were able to spend an hour and a half resting on the mountain. I spent probably an hour of it sleeping and resting. Probably one of the deepest short sleeps I have had in a long time. From the length of time we spent on the mountain we were able to get two different sun angles on the mountain and were able to enjoy the views even more. But like all good times they have to end. Or the good times convert over to a different sort of fun.
The Olympics from Townsend Looking north The distant Cascades Rainier
The Glissade Back Down
After an hour and a half on an absolutely fantastic summit we decided to head down. We walked back the way we came up and then until we hit the snow. Once we hit the snow it was glissade action. We were able to knock off to knock off 1500 feet of elevation in 15 minutes and series of 7 glissades. This was very fun and a great way to get relief from the very strong sun that was hitting us. All the glissades reminded us of a nice waterpark. It was the highlight of what were an incredible day trip and a whole lot of fun in the mountain. What took us almost two hours to go up took about 15 minutes to go down.
The glissade back down the mountain.
Once we got to the bottom we took the trail back to the car. We took the trail all the way to the trailhead and then took the road back to our car. It was incredible to see how much snow has melted on the trail on the way back. In about another hour and a half we were able to make to our car. In the time it took us to head back our gear was able to rapidly dry off. Soon we were heading back to Seattle and enjoying any excellent burger along the way.
Conclusion: The end of today but beginning of a good year
I want to thank Cyohma for coming on this trip and driving most of the way here. It was a very fun trip that featured all the joys of mountaineering. It was also awesome to get a great set of glissades on this mountain. This looks to be a start of possibly another great hiking season.
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