Monday, February 6, 2012

Island Peak - 251 Days to Departure - Silver Peak

There is a first for everything, and the first scramble in Washington State for me was Silver Peak off I-90. It was on a windy October day in 2006 when we dashed to Annette Lake and after a short break of its shore, where most hikers find their final destination, our group of five adventurers continued up on a steep talus field, hopping from rock to rock towards the blue sky of the beautiful day.

The lake below us seemed to shrink as we gained elevation and I remember thinking that the great view was an adequate reward for the burning legs and sweat dripping down our foreheads.

Then we made the final step and gained the ridge. Rainier greeted us from the South and the rest of the views were pretty cool too. Only a short distance stood between us and out destination, and as we run the ridge towards the peak, I knew deep in my heart I was hooked on scrambling.

Few years later Silver Peak came back to my mind. This time it was the winter route promising and interesting ridge run and good photo opportunities that caught my eye.

On Saturday morning on 1/28/2012 we were headed to give it a try. We were able to drive only as far as the first intersection after leaving I-90. From there we made the half mile or so to the trailhead on foot. The snow was packed letting us maintain a swift pace, and the conditions remained good on the actual trail too where a narrow path was broken in, hard enough that we could proceed without need for our snowshoes all the way to the last switchback where according to our decision to avoid potential avalanche danger further along the route we said good bye to the trail, and accepted the challenge of the steep forested slope and deeper snow.

Once we emerged from the forest several hundred feet higher, the ridge stood in front of us, long, proud, and full of obstacles we were yet to overcome.

It was an interesting run indeed. Not the easiest one to navigate - corniced, cliffy, ice mixed with sections of deep powder.... but despite the challenges and no view of Rainier, it was just as rewarding as I remembered from my first visit up there few years ago.

RT: 7.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3840 ft
Time: 8 hrs 35 minutes

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