Mount Angeles - Route 1 (via Klahhane Ridge), October 2013
Clearly visible from Highway 101 between Sequim and Port Angeles, and from Victoria, BC not 30 miles to the north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Mount Angeles is a popular day-trip with impressive views of the Olympus massif, Bailey Range, and southern tip of Vancouver Island. Approached from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center via the Klahhane Ridge Trail, it’s a mere 4 miles and ~2000 feet of absolute gain to reach the summit. Taking a left after about 2 miles onto the unsigned Mount Angeles Climbers' Trail, the route switchbacks to reach a talus bench and from where a final crappy chute leads to the top. For extra credit, I traversed the crest to the east summit before descending back to the Klahhane Ridge Trail at a broad saddle high above Lake Angeles. I had designs on the peak at the extreme east-end of Klahhane Ridge, but my desire for it quickly vanished upon reaching the end of the established ridge trail. All-in-all, Mt. Angeles makes for an enjoyably casual outing; the ideal venue for escaping the lowland fog that blanketed much of the Puget Sound basin for several weeks this past October.
Tuesday, February 18, 2013
Crown Mountain - Crown Mtn trail, October 2013
Tucked away amongst the low peaks just beyond the Grouse Mountain ski area, Crown Mountain is a deservedly popular day-hike with spectacular views overlooking the Lower Mainland. From Grouse proper, the approach entails a relatively short trail hike, with just a smidge of class-3 scrambling near the very end. For the lazy, the Grouse Mountain Tram saves about 2900-ft of gain starting from near the end of Capilano Road, or you can get your sweat-on and hike the relentless Grouse Grind stair-master instead. Whatever you do, a stop at the Peak Chalet for a quaff before taking the tram back down is practically mandatory, and you’ll still please the in-laws with an early return in good time for Thanksgiving dinner!
Friday, February 7, 2013
Mount Cruiser - South Corner, September 2013
In a range known for loose rock, Mt. Cruiser joins maybe a handful of other Olympic peaks that offer easy but fun climbing on reasonably solid rock. Approached via Mildred Lakes, Cruiser’s popular South Corner route entails just 3 short pitches - a steep 4th-class chimney, a run-out 5.0 slab/face and finally the exposed ridge crest to the summit. All this can be enjoyed only after 4.5 miles of winding, rooted trail with bad-tempered hornets, a steep, and tedious bushwhack and some footsore side-hilling to boot.
Arriving at the trailhead late in the afternoon, Eli and I reached the lower lake basin at dusk and stumbled around in the dark before locating a suitable camp spot next to another party along the SW shore of the middle lake. Leaving the trail just shy of uppermost-Mildred Lake the following morning, we thrashed through brush heading in a northerly direction. We were aiming for a prominent swath of grass and low vegetation we spied earlier that morning. The swath seemed to offer the easiest route to the upper basin west of Cruiser proper. From there, we angled leftwards over heather, talus and gravel to reach the apron beneath a prominent ‘Y’ chimney.
After a cruxy step in the lower chimney, we scrambled up the left ‘Y’ branch ending with a tight squeeze under a chockstone. The chimney business now behind us, we turned right and walked a short distance to the base of the slab. Stepping out off the platform onto the slab felt a bit committing and is probably the most difficult move of the pitch. Climbing up, I clipped a couple manky bolts and that was pretty much it for pro. I stopped to set up a belay at the newer bolted rappel station near the crest and brought up Eli. From there we simul-climbed the remaining bit to the summit using slung horns and a rusty bolt or two for protection. The summit isn’t a particularly comfortable place to hang out, so we had a quick look around, snapped some photos and started back down.
My camera fell out of my pocket while rappelling down the slab pitch and disappeared somewhere in the bushes or talus below, never to be seen again. Eli started taking photos only after this happened, so unfortunately no snaps of us on route. And what about those hornets you ask? Suffice it to say, they really took a liking to me on the hike down from the lakes. I tried outrunning them after the third or fourth sting and promptly tripped on a tree root protruding from a particularly steep section of trail. My ‘swan dive’ and subsequent tumble was halted only when I narrowly avoided face-planting a tree and slammed into it with my pack instead. The hornets seemed satisfied with this performance and graciously left me to nurse my bloodied knees and wounded pride. Thankfully the rest of the hike down that damned trail went without further issues. Goodbye and good riddance!
Friday, January 24, 2014
Mount Skokomish & Mount Stone - SE Route & West Ridge, September 2013
Paul, Eli and I climbed Mount Skokomish and Mount Stone on a particularly gorgeous Sunday in September. Both peaks are accessed via the Putvin Trail located some 11.5 miles up the Hamma Hamma River Road (FS Road 25) and make for a pleasant if not strenuous day trip.
Leaving shortly after dawn from a trailhead bivy, we proceeded to grind up the steep, dusty, hornet-infested trail to finally emerge in the sunshine at a lush meadow on a bench with Mount Stone looming above. Continuing along the trail, we surmounted a rocky headwall to reach the beautiful Lake of the Angels basin. Privately, I thought of relaxing here for a while and soaking-in the scenery, but we had an agenda and relaxing was not part of it. Beyond the lake, we continued upwards in a southwesterly direction following the rocky shoulder of North Skokomish. We reached a saddle at the top of the shoulder (5700ft) with outstanding views of Mount Cruiser to the southwest. Descending a short bit on the opposite side of the saddle (staying right), we made an ascending traverse over scree, grass, boilerplate and talus along the southeast slope of Mount Skokomish. A final short scramble on loose rock up the south spur led to the (true) south summit where a grand panorama overlooking the Olympic Mountains was ours to behold.
Upon return, we retraced our steps to within a couple hundred feet of Lake of the Angels. Scrambling up through a short cliff band at left, we then made another ascending traverse this time along the grassy slope above the northwest shore of the lake. After a bit of meandering through a talus slope littered with house-sized boulders, we found ourselves at the base of the large apron beneath a notch-type feature dubbed St. Peter’s Gate. Making a hard left at this point, we proceeded upwards passing beneath a prominent rock dome. Now contouring beneath the left edge of Stone’s craggy South Ridge, we soon reached a notch in the crest of the West Ridge. Turning right here, we scrambled up a short 3rd-class chimney that breaks a steep step in the West Ridge. From this point we were finally able to see the final summit block of Mt. Stone. A short walk beneath the crest of the West Ridge led to the summit block where ~150 feet of fun class 3 scrambling saw us to Stone’s tippy top. As with Skokomish, here too were some great views to be had.
We cut our stay short as the day was threatening to get away from us and we had a reasonably long ways to go still. Once back down below St. Peters Gate, we continued on a descending traverse beneath Pt. 6187 and Pt. 5854, then made our way down a steep grassy slope ending in a brushy gully that leads to the meadow at the bench beneath Lake of the Angels. The remaining hike back to the trailhead went without incident save for Paul and Eli getting stung by hornets once again! Better them than me, eh? Ok, ok my luck would run out by the following weekend, but that’s a story for another time…
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Desolation Sound kayaking, August 2013
Making good on a promise to spend more time exploring BC’s Sunshine Coast, we returned for an extended Labor Day weekend of kayaking in beautiful Desolation Sound. The Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park is a kayaker’s dream come true thanks to numerous small islands, bays and snug coves with several designated campsites scattered about. This is a place to feast the eyes on spectacular scenery - the fjords and mountains, experience the abundant wildlife, and savor the relatively calm, warm waters.
Putting-in at Lund, we spent the next 4 days and 3 nights paddling to the very edge of the park and exploring every nook and cranny in-between. By the time we reached Okeover Arm at the end of our trip, we had logged a respectable ~50 nautical miles. With our gear still soaked from the rain on our last day out, we decided on a whim to indulge ourselves with a night at the Desolation Resort located a relatively short paddle away up Okeover Inlet. A real meal, a bottle of wine and a dry, warm bed seemed a fitting finale to an unforgettable Sunshine Coast adventure!