Ascent to Mount Index-Saddle above Lake Serene on 2016-04-10

Climber: Evan Battaglia

Others in Party:Miki K -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Sunday, April 10, 2016
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Mount Index - Saddle above Lake Serene
    Elevation:3050 ft / 929 m
    Remaining Elevation:2941 ft / 897 m (55% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Insufficient physical conditioning combined with way too much gear/weight, difficult conditions (lake not frozen enough to walk across, and soft slow snow conditions), avalanche danger, and me still not confident due to getting over an injury all contributed to this unsuccessful attempt.

Late start on Saturday. Slow going carrying avy gear (shovel+probe+beacon), snowshoes, mountaineering boots, ice axe, crampons, rope, harness, some chocks, helmet, picket, sleeping bag, etc. up to Lake Serene. We traversed around the lake on the west side, despite some misgivings about avalanche danger; kept hearing what was apparently avalanches later on and the next morning. Camped at the saddle above the lake. In the morning, we decided to turn around given the soft snow conditions (which did not completely freeze overnight, and which would slow us down and make success unlikely) and avalanche danger. Given our progress heretofore, I did not feel we would be very fast, given we would still be carrying a heavy array of climbing gear.

To return and avoid avalanche danger, we decided to traverse around to the east of the lake. We first scouted out the route until we reached what was apparently the ridge, according to the topo map. We went back and packed up camp. However, after returning to complete the scouted route, we ran into a cliff which did not appear on our topo maps. We were rather confused. A whiteout prevented us from seeing how high the cliff was or anything below, which further complicated navigation. We kept contouring generally eastward until I found a tricky way to get down under some blowdowns and a waterfall. I scoped it out without a pack and then returned we tediously downclimbed this section. Soon we reached the ridge and followed it down; towards the end it got rough with brush, boulders, blowdowns, and scattered thin snow. We made some detours and dealt with it and eventually made it back to the trail. All in all, good practice for mountaineering with many of the obstacles and strenuousness one might expect to find on a mountain :)
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2400 ft / 731 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Snowshoes
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2400 ft / 731 m
    Start Trailhead:650 ft / 198 m
Descent Statistics

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