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No this is not a football highlight. Nor is this story about me at a bar watching a football game. I broke my loyalty to sports a long time ago when I discovered the passion, adventure and the raw beauty of the mountains. I want to be the star of the show instead of paying to watch others do the entertainment for me. I want to be the one that screams after they are on top of world and are surrounded by total beauty and the raw sense of adventure that only comes from mountaineering, and scrambling.
This season openers is for the season of fall. Fall in the Pacific Northwest is often very overlooked but the Pacific Northwest often can shock visitors with the raw beauty that is out here. If the beauty deciduous trees that surround Seattle are not enough to convince you and the Issaquah Alps with there often golden drives don't wake you up, than the stellar golden larches the colorful vine maples and red berry field are sure to draw your attention. Though not as famed as other parts of the nation, fall here is not to be taken lightly and when the season strikes you are best to be out there to enjoy it.
This week Don and I decided to go to our familiar bad weather stomping ground, The Teanaway, to tackle a peak and scheduled in twice before but didn't have the time to get to it, Bills Peak. Bills Peak is well known for its great closeup view of Mount Stuart and the Enchantments. Often this peak is done with others but due to our limited time frame we decided to just stick with Bills Peak today. We knew the forecast wasn't too great so we were not expecting too much for this climb.
We decided to take the standard route up which is up the Beverly Creek Trail. The trail itself is in very good conditions. The only issue with the trail is the fact that you will occasionally have to avoid horse crap from the many horses that take the trail. It luckily is a pretty open trail, which is not fun in the dead of summer when this region can get quiet hot but is good in fall when you can see some sort of view at anytime on this trail. On the way up we noticed that some vine maples and other trees are starting to turn color. We took this trail up to a junction and made a right at the junction where we took a trail right to the pass. From there we left the trail and headed north toward Bills Peak. The off trail fun started with a nice 40-45 degree scree and ground climb up to the ridge. This was easily about 200 feet and was a little bit of a pain to get up. Don and I just took it slow to get here because this section was one of those annoying one step forward and two steps back section.
Once over this section we entered a lighter grade and actually which took us there a moderate forest with some small boulders and scree we had to move around. We quickly caught eye of the Class 2 grassy gully in which we were to go up to get to the true summit. This gully was steep but it was well protected from exposure and the footing was actually quiet good. Once up at the ridge we had to summit areas to explore to see which was the true summit. We went to the south summit first which is actually marked on the map as the true summit. This summit rock is Class 2+ provided you climb the rock closest to trees on the northern side. If you go up the face it is Class 3. When we got there we saw what is left of a cairn but no summit register. Because it was a little foggy we couldn't make out if the northern one might be higher.
So we went to that one just to make sure. Once on top of the northern summit it was very clear that the southern summit was clearly the highest summit. The northern rock does require an Class 3 maneuver but the move is easy and the summit from here can be easily attained. Unfortunately the summit of Stuart was still blocked by the clouds but the eastern Teanaway including Bean Peak and Navaho Peak did opened up. That view of the Teanaway really made this trip well worth it. You could also noticed that many of the fields below have really begun to change to a year color. It looks like fall is here to stay now.
After spending an hour enjoying the scrambling and on and off views we decided to head down the mountain. The more we headed down the more blue sky we saw. We took our time heading down the grassy gully but the gully really easy to head down. In some ways the gully reminded me of a less steep version of Kaleetan final scramble. As we continued to head down we took shots of Bills Peak steeper rockier southwest slope. Bills Peak is predominantly Class 2 by the correct route but if you don't take the correct route it can get much harder. Once out of the mixed field, rock and open forest we headed very slowly down the steep scree field. In spring this would make a great glissade but now it is just a mess of scree. We took our time and arrived at the bottom in good condition.
Once below the scree field we just decided to cruise on back to the car. With the trail being in great condition, we could easily made good time on it. This section is actually very enjoyable and the open forest and field made this trail a pleasure to go on. We made it back to the car in very good time and were soon heading home. We did get some good fall color shots along the way. There was one shot right before the trailhead that was particularly striking.
It was a great time to kick off the fall season. Once again I want to thank my friend Don for coming out on this awesome trip and making great route finding decisions along the way. It was a great season opener and yet another wonderful trip in the mountains.
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