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Ascent of The Ark on 2021-05-02

Climber: Patty Cokus

Others in Party:Sean Albert
(The Dog) Ava
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, May 2, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:The Ark
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:5339 ft / 1627 m

Ascent Trip Report

Sean Ava and I. Drove past a very filled Mailbox bottom parking area to the end of Middle Fork road (deeply potholed at the bridge) turned left and parked with the bathroom at Garfield ledges TH. Watched numerous other cars drive past so we continued on to a very full parking area just a bit further. Probably wasn’t worth moving the car...

Less partly sunny and a lot more cloudy and damp. Took the first well marked switchback cutoff trails up then stayed on the road while going up. Crosses many small creeks. Put snowshoes on around 3200’ at 3500’ where it opens up a bit and the large creek is we opted for following a bit more mellow terrain up and right working our way through the trees and more open areas which must be the boulder fields in summer. Snow was a mix of consolidated easier to walk and water saturated slippy sloppy slidey. Snowshoes were good and bad at times difficult to traverse and ascend in with slip outs but kept them on until the saddle at the ridge. With the narrow ridge, varying snow and more exposure Sean removed AVA’s front booties so she wouldn’t have any traction issues. We Started with snowshoes on but quickly left them for crampons. Snow remained a mix of harder and softer with lots of slow going mini step drop mini step drop. Glad to be out of snowshoes as overall it was much better kicking steps but missing them a bit. One section on this ridge is narrower and corniced. Not an issue for us but Ava is drawn to a view so reminder to work harder to manage the surfing...

Upon reaching the final ridge we opted to start traversing to the ridge lower and slowly rising up knowing it can be corniced. We still came up too soon and on the way down dropped down a bit earlier. Made or way up and only one spot between trees was sketchy with deep tree wells melting..again in the way down took a slightly different path trying to avoid it. Just below the bare Summit rocks we layered up laid the foam pad and had a quick snack while Sean and I took turns slowly cramponing the short distance on easy rock over to the true summit. No views as the mist was around us but did make out the small snow covered lake below. Sean said this was the lake many years ago 10 or so?) we took Ava to when she was just a young pup and I was stressed because it was steep for her and I thought we were harming her tendons....at 11 now she does have some issues it overall is still a mountain beast so hey, I guess it didn’t ruin her.

Heady back down was nearly as slow as up with the overly deep plunge stepping snow but we kept crampons on and collected our snowshoes since the harder steeper bits in the trees were much better that way than ski sliding in snowshoes into trees. Once back at the 3500’ and to the road we put all 4 of Ava’s booties on as her few toes were irritated. Upon reaching the cairned turnoff in the woods cutting straight down to avoid the switchbacks Sean suggested we follow them. Pleasant forest duff but quite steep in places with wet slippery wood to watch for. The first one had snow on and off and after reaching the road Sean watched Ava flying down slightly out of control feet sliding everywhere so off with the booties. Only good in snow that is super low key and soft. Not good for scrambling or at least not for Ava speed.

The woods cutoffs really cut out a lot of mileage as well as many creek crossings so definitely recommend at least for the down. Someone has really put a lot of flagging of various kinds (amongst standard flagging there is also assuming found detritus, like Mylar ballon, plastic container, etc)

Weather was a bit more clear and nice now. Saw a few folks with dogs along the first (our now last) section of quartz creek trail/road closer to the junction with Taylor River trail/road.

Walking to the car I said that sure didn’t feel like 13 miles and it wasn’t, more like10 so the cutoffs do cut off a lot. About 4100 ’gain. What felt the hardest most draining was the constant plunging every step in snow...but it is spring after all.
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