The Adventures of Jolly Mountain
Round 1: Stopped by heavy snow
Well this week it was Jolly Mountain. Only this trip would leave some doubt if we ever did reach the summit, because we hit a semi blizzard whiteout on what we thought was the top. That just means I have to go up in summer to erase the shred of doubt.
I will tell you this it didn't look good from the beginning. The bad weather was minor compared to the fact that one set of people called 40 minutes before the beginning of the trip and the other set arrived 10 minutes after starting time. I at one point called Magellan and asked him if he was interested in having someone joining him in his Tiger Mountain conditioning trip. I did that because I didn't here anything from Josh and I was afraid he wasn't going to make it. Magellan declined due to personal obligations, and thankfully he did. (Note: he did not turn me down to be mean. He had time limitations and personal obligations after the hike he had to rush to)
Once Josh and Micheal arrived it was game on for the mountain. Special thanks to Micheal for driving through the awful rain. We got to the Horse Trail Camp and looked for the Jolly Mountain Trailhead only to find out that someone ripped down the Jolly Mtn sign and put it the other way confusing us royally. So we decided to take the road.
Good call. It helped us save about 800 feet of elevation gain and get a better route in case of possible night travel. We headed up the road using our compass and a number of topo maps and headed up the road occasionally bushwacking some of the turns to save time. Soon we were in the snow. Though it was a little struggle, we came all the way up to the ridge where occasional views through the snow could be seen. We ran into the Sasse Ridge Trail and took it right up to the Jolly Mountain Trail. From there we continued up the ridge until we were on some sort of summit. I at first didn't think it was the summit but every place around this area was lower and with the heavy snow and wind.
We checked around for a short while but didn't see any marking showing of a higher summit nearby so we decided to call it a day on the high spot and head on back. The conditions on top were poor with heavy snow, wind and near white conditions.
On the way down we were beginning to get cold. So we just kept moving. Picking the road was a great call because soon we were back on a safer area. As we were going down the road views began to open up of the beautiful sunset. Soon we were back at the car and headed back out.
Round 2: A Near Death Experience for one participant
Well Jolly survives another day. But this journey up Jolly Mountain was well worth the trip. What was suppose to be a rainy disaster actually turned out to be a decent day to be in the mountains. And the trip was a success in the fact that everyone made it up and down safely and everyone had a good time.
This trip consisted of Bad Dog, Iron, Josh Lewis and his brother Michael and Redwic from Summitpost. This 14 mile butt kicker lived up to it's billing as a major wake up call for summer goal mountains like Rainier and Shasta.
We decided to head up the roadway and cut up to avoid the long switchbacks. I don't know how much time it ended up saving us on the way up because the snowy slopes were quiet steep and made the switchback cutting very slow.
When the trail consisted of deep snow Iron, clearly the strongest hiker in the group cut the trail all of the way to the ridge. For all those who don't know much about Iron, he is a very strong and fast hiker. But he was also one of the best team players around. Once on the ridge he then went down the trail and actually helped some of the other hikers with their pack to get them to the ridge when they were struggling. I think we own him a very special thank you and many more trip invitations for what he did.
Once along the ridge Iron continued to cut the trail with me and Bad Dog a little behind and the others a little more behind. Time though at this point was beginning to run out and concern began to grow amongst us. At one point Bad Dog recognized that there were some members that might not summit this time around so she want me Iron to go for the summit. I soon got up to Iron, who was waiting for us and told him the news. After realizing that he had some of members water and clothing he went back to give them the items and he and I planned to summit the peak. I continue to the summit which was a little less that one mile away.
I continued on about 100 yards when instincts for the group took over. First I didn't like the fact that the group was splitting. Second I was worried because I didn't know the health of the other members. Third time was running out fast. It was obvious at this point that it was time to bail :bawl: on this one despite knowing that Iron would have crushed this mountain and I could have summited it too. Jolly won again but not for long. Safety here of the group here is much more important than pride. We all have families, goals, and dreams and summit is not worth it. It also didn't help that the summit was completely foggy while everywhere else had a view.
It turned out to be the absolute best decision because Josh Lewis had become very weak. On the way down he collasped to his knees at least and the mountain was taking its toll on him. Iron took all his gear except food and water while Redwic and I walked with him down the mountain. This was where team work played a major role. We walked with Josh slowly down the mountain feeding him electrolytes and water and slowly he began to get back his strength.
By the time we were heading down the steep slope Josh had most of his strength back and heading down was actually quiet fun. In fact many in the group were able to do quiet a number of good glissades heading down here. Josh had regain to old form and the rest of the trip was uneventful.
Some notes: Snowshoes are pretty much mandatory right now on Jolly Mountain. There are great views going up the road to the mountain and I would recommend this to be the winter route.
Also a special thanks to Redwic for looking over Josh Lewis, Iron for stepping up repeatedly during the hike and all of the others for coming out and making this hike so enjoyable. Awesome job. As for Holly, Bad Dog's dog, she was a great dog on this trip, though she did get excited on the glissades.
As for Jolly, see you again soon!
Round 3: Success and another mountain as well
Well sometimes it is the struggle that makes the time when you finally make the summit so special. Had I hit the summit of Jolly either of the two other times I would have never seen the amazing views that are on that wonderful summit. All I have to say was WOW! Now I know why I wanted to go up there so bad!!!!
With the small hike to Thorp Mountain the day before down, Redwic and I wanted to give a shot at Jolly Mountain. If all went well we were going to Sasse as well. Bill who was in my glacier climbing class was invited as well. He was going to go for the summit of Jolly with a 50 pound pack to train for his climb up Rainier in two weeks. I knew one thing, my crew was very strong and so were my chances.
The weather in Seattle did not start out so hot (rainy and cloudy) but once over the pass it was amazing weather. Temperatures were nearly perfect once we left the car. We decided to take the same dirt road we took the other two times so that this way if we wanted to get Sasse we could. We drove up to the gate at 3400 feet where there is a nice parking area. We then walked up the road. Cutting switchbacks was not an option because there was no snow and Bill was loaded with heavy weight and we didn't want him to get winded early. We made a good steady pace up the mountain and were up at the top of the road where nice views of Daniel and Hinman await.
We pressed on up the ridge. Great views of Hawkins and Stuart were up to the northeast, while Daniel and Hinman lied to the west and the summit of Jolly awaited up to the southeast. Following a map and a GPS we made of work of the ridge, and Bill despite having a 50 lb pack was going a decent pace.
The last little push to the summit of Jolly was mostly snowcovered. But this was mostly Cascade concrete, which was just soft enough for good kicksteps. It took a little effort but we made the summit and ended the bad streak on this mountain. It always burned me inside that I didn't make the summit the other two time until I reached it now and saw how special this summit really was. All I have to say here is VIEWS!!
Great three volcanoes await on Jolly as well as terrific views of Stuart and Daniel. The mountain REALLY rewarded me today and I am very thankful for it to do that.
After spending an hour it was time to head off Jolly Mountain. Now the question was would we have enough energy for Sasse. I asked Bill and he was ready to go for more. So Sasse here we come. Though this was only 1.6 miles and maybe 650 of elevation gain from our point it surely felt like more due to us summiting Jolly. We hit Sasse from the north. I would not want to go for Sasse Mountain any other way due it basically being a forested summit.
Heading down to Sasse there are plenty of good views of Jolly, Stuart to the northeast and to the wast there is a good view of Daniel Hinman and the other western Cascades. The northern false summit of Sasse had a great view of it's southern forested neighboring. The ridgeline to the summit also had good views easy. Walk up to rock outrock above you on the traverse there is good views west as well. One thing this that this trail would be downright dangerous in winter. There section where trail side traverse a 40 degree slope that leads right to a cliff 50 feet above. One slip in winter and your are toast. Even in summer I had to pay a little attention.
The summit though had only hints of views. The trees clearly cover most of them and only offers teases. Luckily the traverse and northern false summit makes up for it. We rested on the summit for about 10 minutes and then decided to head on back to the car. The rest of the hike here was uneventful as we walked on back to the car. It was good getting the monkey off my back with Jolly AND getting to see it's killer views. Afterwards we all ain't some Mexican food and headed on back.
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