Ascent to Red Mountain-SW Slopes on 2015-01-01

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, January 1, 2015
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Red Mountain - SW Slopes
    Elevation:4600 ft / 1402 m
    Remaining Elevation:1290 ft / 393 m (45% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

What a way to start the new year - with failure. I have been keeping an eye on avalanche conditions for the past few days in the hopes that this clear weather spell would coincide with safe snow conditions in the Cascades so that I could ascend a significant peak. While part of me knows that I can safely ascend a dumpster peak on logging roads, the other part of me knows that logging roads are rather dull. Instead, I went for this more sporting mountaineering challenge. Better to fail on something worthwhile than succeed on another logging road.

The morning was cold. I parked at Snoqualmie West by the ski area. There were only 3 other cars in the lot: one had a group just walking away from it, one had a solo hiker prepping to leave, and the other one was empty. As I headed up the old/abandoned trail from the trailhead, I did not see the group of 3 or the solo hiker. The trail is well tread and easy to follow. I ran into a solo hiker on his way down and he gave me some good beta. He did not summit due to snowpack conditions, so I was not too hopeful, but I figured that I would continue up and see what I could do. I did not put my snowshoes on until about 3,880 ft. Once the skin track I was following petered out, I struck out on my own into the powder. It was slow going, but I made it up to treeline ok. Above treeline, the snow got worse. I had to cross an avalanche gully. I did it as quickly as I could but did not enjoy it. If this were consolidated spring snow, it would have been a pretty decent place to ascend the mountain. I continued upward until I found myself on a minor ridge surrounded on both sides by avalanche paths. The area above also looked like there had been quite a few slides. There was pretty much no safe place to continue. The ridge snowpack was probably just as crappy as the stuff I was in. I forced it as far as I could. The snow is just not forming into that Cascade concrete like it should. It wasn't worth risking it. Sigh, welcome back to Washington winters...

On the descent I saw a few other groups of snowshoers who got a later start. When I returned to the parking area, it was full of cars.

The secondary objective for the day was testing out my new La Sportiva Spantik boots. While my primary objective was a total failure, my secondary objective was achieved with success. The boots fit as well on the mountain as they did in the store and did not give me any hot spots or uncomfortable pressure points. They were quite warm, which is good, as they are designed for use on much colder peaks than Red Mtn on a 20-35 degree day. They were overkill for this peak obviously, but I needed to get them out in the snow and cold before I head to colder mountains in the future.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1600 ft / 487 m
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1600 ft / 487 m
    Route:Commonwealth Creek
    Start Trailhead:3000 ft / 914 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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