Scraping the Sky after being Stopped Dead in My Tracks
Well it is another weekend and yes yet again I am going to have to go to work both days after already putting in 60 hours for the week. I am tired, burnt out and it is going to be another week of good weather. All I have are the mornings and no one is really interested in hiking with me that Saturday. I refuse to head up I-90 because most of the summits I have already done but yet I really want to do a mountain that features a lot of bang for the buck. So this week I decided to head down to the Mount Rainier and give two summits a good shot, Deadwood Peak and Skyscraper Mountain. Both of these mountains have very short elevation gain and are easy enough to run to and back back in time for work.
Round 1: Stopped Dead at Deadwood Peak
Based on the the success of Yakima Peak I decided to head back to Chinook Pass and go for Deadwood Peak. There is very little literature about this mountain so I decided to head up there and at least make a good attempt and see what I could gather from it. Because I was alone I wasn't going to do anything over Class 2 or low Class 3. It is a safety issue for me and I have to be in good health if I am going to continue to work two jobs. An injury now could be very damaging, not just physically but financially and in my current situation I really could not risk a bad situation.
So I decided to head up Chinook Pass. I parked in the same location that I parked for Yakima Peak and then headed up the same snow slope I did for Yakima Peak, this time though solo. From there I headed down into the valley between Deadwood Peak and Yakima Peak staying close to the ridge that Deadwood was on. I noticed a steep scree/ dirt/ rock angled at about 45 degrees in the middle of the ridge and decided to ascend that ridge. This Class 2 mixed scree, heather and rock scramble to the ridge was a bit of a breather but I quickly made it to the ridgeline. From there I when up the snowfield all the way to a heather field that lead to the ridgeline.
Once I made that ridgeline I first thought I was home free to make the summit of this peak. But once I got over the first hump I knew I was in a little over my head. I gave it a shot by trying to go around the gully but I then tripped and watched a rock fly from my feet and go quiet a ways down the gully. From there I realized though I am less than 30 feet from the actual summit, this is not a mountain I want to try to complete alone and decided to to bail. The last bit was at least high Class 3 without anyone else there I was a little spooked to continue. Don't worry folks; I will be back for this one!!
What is picture doesn't show you is the dropoff on both sides!!
Heading back was a bit of a chore. The loose scree and the mixed heather made for a slow descent from the ridge. Once down in the valley I headed back up through some snow up to the col that lies between Yakima Peak and Deadwood Peak. From there the snow from the ridge to the parking was soft enough for me to glissade 300 feet back to my car. Though I did not get the true summit I got a lot of good beta and I was able to make something out of the day before I had to head to work.
I headed on back and fulfilled my responsibilities for my family and put in 8 hours at my place I work. The whole time though I was there I felt bummed, because I know if I have another person there I would have had that summit. It was eating at me badly. I was just hoping that my Sunday would be so much better. The forecast was still good so I wanted to head out for Sunday and do Skyscraper Mountain.
Sunday: Sharing Skyscraper with the Marmot
It is very hard to wake up at 5 am after getting home at 11:30 pm from work. But I was determined to get something out of this weekend. It was not Eldorado or Sahale, mountains I wanted to do earlier this summer but were pushed away from due to my two job situation. But Skyscraper is a decent summit with very rewarding views and if I could I wanted to get up there to enjoy a good peak with rewarding views.
This time though I did not go solo but with my friend Curttissimo. He is a little faster a hiker and has also wanted to do this mountain. After I picked him up I had him drive my car to the location. I personally needed a lot more sleep and wanted to get as much as I before I went back to work. I was quite tired that morning and I knew Skyscraper was going to be a bit of a time crunch to get to but to me it would be all worth it to go back into the mountains and see the beauty of the area.
We made it back to Sunrise in very good time and from there we were on our way. There was a lot of snow still at Sunrise so we knew to bring our ice axes for the trip. Once we got going it was off to the races for Skyscraper Mountain. The first bit of trail was well wanded all the way to Frozen Lake. Outside of crossing of steeper angle snowfields on the way to Frozen Lake the route was in very good shape. Mount Rainier was shining its true colors right at us and was teasing us that morning.
Once we hit the Wonderland Trail past Frozen Lake the conditions change rapidly. There were no wands from here on out. Fortunately for us though Skyscraper was in clear view and the terrain on the way to the peak was actually not very intimidating. So it looked like we had a good shot at the summit. We followed the few footprints that were on the trail and went as quick as we could. Despite it only being in the early morning we were heating up from the sun and I quickly was getting a lot of salt in my eyes. But I was determined this time to get that peak and the easy terrain and the great weather just welcomed me more for the summit. The trail showed itself occasional in the snow which helped us on our way to the summit. Once on the ridge-line that connected to Skyscraper Mountain we got off trail and then headed for the true summit of Skyscraper Mountain.
This off-trail walk-up was very beauty and rewarding. Though technically off-trail there was a well established bootpath up to the true summit of Skyscraper Mountain. Once on the top we spent sometime to sit down and enjoy the amazing views of Mount Rainier. We were greeted by a rather bold marmot. The marmot basically ran around us the whole time and continued to do its own thing. At one point the marmot headed over to my pack. I knew it was looking for food so I quickly took my pack. Luckily the marmot just carried on its normal way and posed for a couple shot and then went back to its shelter. Out of all the animals I have seen in the mountains the marmots I think are some of the most adorable out there.
After eating our food we headed on back pretty much at the same pace as before. I had to push it a little if I was going to make it back to work again and I knew I had little time. With the sun out now at full blast and the fact that we were going to have some uphill I knew I was going to lose a lot of energy heading on back. But we raced back at a good speed. Yet again I was tasting a lot of salt and I was sweating a storm but we made it back in good time.
This time when I was being responsible and working my 8 hours I had something special to remember form the day. Sometimes that it all I need to help me get by while I am in this two job situation. You must always make the most out of every situation, no matter how bleak it is. Thankfully on this beautiful weekend I got to see some beautiful terrain, get some great beta and get a cool summit as well.