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Ascent of Mount Sawyer on 2013-10-27

Climber: Chad Straub

Others in Party:Automahn(k9)
Maverick(k9)
Date:Sunday, October 27, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Mount Sawyer
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:5501 ft / 1676 m

Ascent Trip Report

Road 68 is in decent shape besides about 2 dozen gnarly potholes along the way. Road 6830 had even fewer potholes and just a few sections of wash boarded road. The lower slopes of Sobieski Mountain were visible across the Foss Creek valley on the drive up until I entered a thick fog around 3000 feet. Light snow began to fall before Road 310, and was a thin layer was already sticking in a few places. Trail 1058 was well kept to the Fisher Lake/Deception Creek Junction. I encountered several patches of firm snow above 5000 feet, mostly on the North side of Tonga Ridge. Mount Sawyer has a nice trail leading to the summit, but I found only game trails between lots of bushwhacking to the peaks to the West and East.

http://www.jebsjourneys.com/2013/04/2013-4-13-mount-sawyer-attempt.html The first time I attempted to reach these summits there was a large blowdown blocking Road 68 less than a mile up. We turned back about 4.5 miles up the snow-covered road when my partners waterproof boots failed him. This trip was also a backup plan, as I had intended to hit Mastiff Mountain and Mount Howard until I read about 20-30 mph winds in the NOAA forecast for the Lake Wenatchee area.

I left the trailhead at 7:30 with two dogs in tow. According to the info board Wilderness permits are required although I could not find any. We left the trail about a mile in, following what looked like a bootpath but turned out to be a game trail that disappeared into the brush after fifty feet or so. There was very little dew on the bare blueberry bushes that covered most of the landscape so we continued to the saddle west of Mount Sawyer. Even on the ridge top vegetation was occasionally very thick. We passed a few rocky outcroppings on climbers right as the North face was steeper and still very brushy below. The summit would have done beautiful views on a better day, I saw nothing but white. Human tracks could be seen in a fairly large patch of hardened snow less than a foot thick.

I found a nice trail to the Southwest with several switchbacks down to the main trail. We passed a couple with a beagle and then came upon a group of 6-10 with 2 dogs. I asked if the dogs were friendly, and before I could get Automahn leashed he charged of toward the group. He and a large weinerheimer named Shadow erupted into a ball of gnashing teeth. I tackled the two and Auto clamped down on Shadow's cheek as his owner subdued Maverick. After struggling for about 5 seconds to get Auto to let go, I remembered a crazy suggestion I had once heard which stuck with me: I used a finger on my free hand to check Auto's prostate, and sure enough he released instantly and Shadow ran off into the woods.

The woman with the beagle was kind enough to help us up and make sure nobody was injured. I got the boys leashed, and apologized for not having then on, and for their party in the scuffle. Sandra and I exchanged numbers and I left the group to allow their second dog to go in search of Shadow. I turned back five minutes later to retrieve my hat and returned to the scene as the group was heading back. Sandra had found my hat as well as her dog who was luckily unharmed as well. I will be taking the experience as a free lesson. Bringing pets into the backcountry carries serious responsibility for the safety and security of everyone on the trail.

I was still a bit on edge as we continued East on Trail 1058, keeping an eye out for a path to the left. Before I knew it we were standing at the turnoff to Fisher Lake. We explored the campsites at the junction and found a small game trail heading up towards the East peak of Tonga Ridge. The ridgewalk here was similar to Sawyer but with more exposed rock and of course more snow. The summit was unimpressive and we continued on after a few pics.

On the way out we made a last side trip up to the West Peak for more of the same whiteout views. Near the summit is a ~40' sinkhole reminiscent of cave ridge. Maybe another century of erosion? Blue sky peeked out a few times but we saw no sunshine until the drive back to Highway 2.

pics and route map @ http://www.jebsjourneys.com/2013/11/10-27-2013-three-peaks-of-tonga-ridge.html
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2441 ft / 744 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1951 ft / 593 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.6 mi / 7.4 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Calm, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2441 ft / 744 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1241 ft / 378 m; Extra: 1200 ft / 365m
    Loss on way in:1200 ft / 365 m
    Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
    Route:bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Tonga Ridge TH  4260 ft / 1298 m
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:751 ft / 228 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.9 km
    Route:bushwhack
    End Trailhead:Fisher Lake Junction  4750 ft / 1447 m
    Time:30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Tonga Ridge

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Mount Sawyer2013-10-272441 ft / 744 m
2Tonga Ridge2013-10-27896 ft / 273 m
3Mount Finn2013-10-27880 ft / 268 m
Total Trip Gain: 4217 ft / 1285 m    Total Trip Loss: 4217 ft / 1285 m



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