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Ascent of Silver Moon on 2020-10-02

Climber: Milda Tautvydas

Others in Party:David Salinger
Date:Friday, October 2, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Silver Moon
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:8252 ft / 2515 m

Ascent Trip Report

ROUTE DESCRIPTION Day 1, 2020-10-01: Approached from Cedar Creek TH, up the Mudhole Lake trail (see Green Trails Map), lost 200' to look for water at Mudhole Lake, which is aptly named; didn't get water there. Set up camp at Pt. 7054' (per Matt Burton/Mike Torok TR). Got water from Varden Lake (lost/climbed 860'VF). Day 2, 2020-10-02: climbed Silver Moon (SM) per East Face route. Approached from camp (Pt. 7054') and followed ridge crest westerly towards SM. Bypassed Pt. 7,332' on the south side, contouring at ~7200', then descended to Lake 7141' (lake basin east of SM summit (Pt. 8252')). Made a rising traverse up SM's upper basin towards the broad brown gully that intersects the SE ridge of SM. Ascended the gully a short way to gain broad class 2 ledges of SM's east face. Made a rising traverse across SM's east face towards the east ridge and a short headwall. At the headwall, we climbed westerly up short blocks and broad ledges to the false summit tower that marks the intersection of the SE and E ridges of SM. A short, exposed traverse westerly on a narrow, blocky crest leads to the true summit. The crux is a short, narrow, downward-sloping, exposed slab east of the false summit. If desired (esp. if rock is wet), this step can be protected with 50' of rope and one triple runner x1 carabiner, plus a prusik cord (or if desired, protect the entire summit traverse with 100' of rope, three triple runners x3 carabiners, and a prusik cord). After a long summit stay, we descended to Lake 7141' per our ascent route, then descended from Lake 7141' down to the Cedar Creek Trail by staying on the east side of the ~7000' slabs, and east of the creek that drains Lake 7141'. A mix of short cliffs, open forest, and brief sections of forest choked with blowdown, got us to the Cedar Creek Trail (4,600' on altimeter; +4,500' on map) in quick time. On our descent, we stayed within earshot of the creek (creek on descender's right). After reaching the trail, it was a quick ~5 mile hike to the Cedar Creek TH (4.7 miles on CalTOPO). Silver Moon can be climbed in a day (~12-14 hours RT). It can be approached as per our descent route (see Dave Creeden's TR on NWHikers) or as per our approach route (see Matt Burton and Mike Torok's TR on NWHikers). The descent route we took has good water sources the entire way. Our approach route is dry, unless you are willing to filter the weed-choked, swamp-water at Mudhole Lake (lose 200' of elevation to get water there). We climbed an additional 1,000'VF on our approach in search of water (descent to Mudhole Lake= 200'VF; descent to Varden Lake= 860'VF). To keep things interesting and adventurous, we did this trip as a loop. Note that others have climbed Silver Moon in spring conditions (snow), and also via the SE ridge (John Porter, Fred Newman, others...). There are likely other summit routes to explore (E Ridge?). No summit register. Party of two: Milda Tautvydas and David Salinger.

Map, compass, altimeter; MSR 4-liter and 6-liter water bags; 100' of retired 8mm glacier rope plus 3 triple runners x3 carabiners (brought gear due to possibility of rock being wet from recent snowfall); lightweight harness and small reverso for 8mm rope; route descriptions from Matt Burton/Mike Torok and Dave Creeden. No GPS.

WORDY TRIP REPORT: On 2020-10-01, the sky was thick with smoke particles from fires raging in California. Airnow.gov showed that air quality was moderate, so we continued on our adventure towards Silver Moon summit. Around 10AM David Salinger and I left the Cedar Creek TH (gravel pit) up Silver Star's and Silver Moon's east ridge towards Pt. 7054'. It was a quick, dry hike, and we dropped 200' off the trail in search of water at Mudhole Lake. The lake is aptly named and we did not get water there. We continued up to our destination for the day, and reached pt. 7054' by 1:00PM (4,200'+ vf). Per Matt Burton and Mike Torok's trip report on NW Hikers, we too set up camp on pt. 7054', in hopes of enjoying a full moon in celebration of a Silver Moon summit climb. We got water by descending the north ridge from camp to the col between Pt. 7054' and Pt. 6919', and downclimbed steeply to 6,194' Varden Lake, losing 860'VF from camp. We circled the lake, looking for an outlet stream, but did not find one; so, we filled our water bags with 5 liters of water each directly from the lake. Fish were visible, swimming under the mirrored surface of very still water. We returned to camp by the same steep and rugged route. Getting water for our high camp added an additional 1,000'VF of climbing for the day (day's total +5,000'vf). Having arrived to camp quickly, and early, we noted that with merely a day pack, Silver Moon can be climbed in day. However, we wanted to camp among the larches and under the light of the full moon, so we chose to climb it in two. Despite our high hopes for a spectacular celestial display, the sky was filled with smoke, and the moon was not visible until late into the night when it was directly above. Sunset was interested, but there was so much smoke, that colors were muted, shaded with smut, and tinted to pale hues of low contrast. Sunrise was similar. The smoke was so heavy in the south and east, that we did not see the red orb until it rose above the thick particles that shaded the landscape from view. It was after 9AM when we had finally packed up and left camp. The ridge traverse was easy, yet tedious at times. We stayed on the ridge crest, or were just off the ridge on the south side. We bypassed Pt. 7332' on the south side and contoured at ~7,200'. When the terrain began to steepen into slaby cliffs, we made a gradual downward descent to Lake 7141', just east of Silver Moon (Pt. 8252'). We emptied our packs at the lake, got water, took our boots off and just did nothing for about an hour (cooling off and soaking in the solitude of a lovely alpine basin). We studied the route and chose a line of travel (referenced the Burton/Torok route description) and set out for the brown gully (we ascended the right side of the basin; Burton/Torok went up the left). The wide, brown, dirty gully intersects Silver Moon's SE ridge. We ascended it a short way, then quickly got onto a wide, class 2 ramp (series of ramps) that traversed upwards and northerly across the east face of Silver Moon to a short headwall in Silver Moon's east ridge. The ledges retained a few patches of melting snow due to recent snowfall. The sand on the ledges were saturated from recent snowmelt. At the headwall we turned and climbed easterly on broad slabs (class 2 and some short steps of class 3) to Silver Moon's false summit. Just beyond the false summit is a short, narrow, exposed, steeply downward slanting slab/step that is the crux of the climb (3rd class, but very exposed). Luckily, the slab was dry, although covered with black lichen. After the crux, a short scramble on a wider ridge crest lead to the summit. If desired, or if rock is wet/icy, the crux move can be protected with a triple runner and 50' of rope. Three triple runners x3 carabiners and 100' of rope will protect the entire exposed section of the final ridge traverse to the summit. We spent a long time on the summit: the views of Silver Star were fantastic, despite the gray haze. Nearby peaks, like the Gardners, Shelokum, Wolfhead, Tower, Golden Horn and the Methow Needles were mere pale silhouettes, featureless and flat as if cut out from faded construction paper. It was easy to focus on one's next move or step, because eyes are attracted to that which is of greatest contrast; and on this day, visual clarity was close at hand. Even my camera was having difficulty finding an edge sharp enough to focus on in the near distance (had to use MF). We returned to our gear stashed at the lake per our ascent route. We packed up, got water, and began our descent towards Cedar Creek. We bypassed a wide, slaby cliff that transects Silver Moon's east basin at ~7000' by descending on the east side of the creek that drains Lake 7141'. Navigating through moderately steep forest and some short, steep cliffs, we descended fairly easily and quickly down to the Cedar Creek Trail (4,600' elevation on our altimeter; 4,530' on map). From the junction of our descent and the Cedar Creek Trail, it was an easy ~5 mile (4.67 on CalTopo) hike out to the TH. Some windfall timber lay across the trail between 4,600' and 4,400'.
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