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Ascent of Silver Star Mountain on 2016-05-30

Climber: Patty Cokus

Others in Party:Sean Albert -- Trip Report or GPS Track
(The Dog) Ava -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Monday, May 30, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Silver Star Mountain
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:8876 ft / 2705 m

Ascent Trip Report

SUNDAY

Due to the rainy/snowy forecast for most places on Sat/Sun for the Memorial Holiday weekend we thought about Leavenworth but figured it would be super busy, plus that meant a lot of driving (on a holiday weekend) and we had just basically done a ton of driving the weekend before from our anniversary road trip (due to the 70% rain forecast). So, we slept in Sunday morning instead.

I still advocated for a little climbing so we left for WA pass around 11am with the idea of nabbing a campsite if possible and checking out a crag in Mazama. It was super rainy over the pass (and apparently snowy up higher)…much more so than last weekends 70% forecast - go figure.

We got over the pass and fortunately were able to grab a spot in the Klipchuck campground, then checked out a signed Climbing area with a big parking lot and bathroom – Fun Rock. It is super close to the road so no approach and was pretty busy. We had no book/map so we walked around up top and Sean was able to setup a top rope on something. We each climbed it a few times trying different off-route parts (bolted sport) and figured it was probably 5.6 or max 5.7. It was nice and sunny and warm and Ava enjoyed lying on her foam pad in the sun for an hour J

We had picked up bbq from that railcar in Marblemount for dinner - FYI it isn’t worth it and we felt guilty for cheating on Mondo. We ate at our campsite and had an awesome fire. I forgot the marshmallows...again.


MONDAY

Woke up at 4am and started from the Silver Creek TH at 5:15am. A chilly 35 but sunny and no wind. Sean had been before but a few years ago and I had been in terribly rainy weather with Matty P a year ago. From my experience I learned we needed to stay left once up in the higher bushwacking creeky marshy area for the least difficulty. This worked pretty well and all the snow patches here were very hard and easy to walk on. Once in the basin we needed to decide where to go up. My experience with Matty P was to the right straight up the slide alder steep creek…which SUCKED. Then we traversed left on flatish ground forever… Sean confirmed that the steepish snow slope to our left was the way he had gone and it did not cliff out. So that is where we went. Up snow then traversing right with a bit of boulder hopping, and easy rising traverse up to the base of the final couloir.

Snow was quite hard so crampons were definitely necessary, glacier looked fine this time of year, no roping up needed. Looked like most snow had slid off of the slabs above and snow was stable. On our way up it was evident some new fresh snow had fallen recently. So beautiful up there and very impressive spires and beautiful rock.

We met two people coming down as we were going up the final snow slope to the saddle below the summit block. They said snow almost all the way to the top. They stopped about 10ft below the summit as they didn't want to take crampons off and figured they were close enough. Hmm.



SUMMIT BLOCK

Sean had told me there was an exposed step around to get to a final easier gully to the top. He just couldn't remember where it was. I had read that people often do some 5th class moves and even get belayed so I figured I would need to find this little ramp/move. Since Sean had already summited and we weren't sure exactly how Ava would do they stayed at the saddle and he said go ahead. I hesitantly went off by myself, um, who would take my summit photo and scary! I followed the previous couple’s footprints up then investigated every spot right looking for the crossover. I looked at least at two very exposed spots that were definitely NOT the way. I kept yelling down to Sean to check-in and finally got to a spot quite close to the top and figured it was the way, but It was exposed down the gaping hole that I had seen from the previous spots with a very narrow little ledge to cross. This had icy snow, icicles and Rhime ice on the rocks too, adding to the fun. I was yelling down to Sean and saying I didn't like it. He knows me well and so had put in a picket for Ava and was coming up. I dropped my pack here in a nice little dip, and in the meantime I gathered my courage and crawled the little ledge and got to the other side. I was trying to figure out where to go from here when he popped his head up on the other side of the move. He confirmed this was the spot and that it should be an easy gulley up somewhere. He thought Ava could do it so went back down to get her since she was making an awful racket (she does NOT like being left behind).

I started gingerly investigating how to get up. It looked possible just past the move but definitely too tricky for snow/ice and crampons. So I looked a little more right. I still had my ice axe with me but at this point that didn't seem useful since I needed both hands for scrambling so I placed it in a spot I thought it wouldn’t fall off of. I then proceeded to do the most rock scrambling/climbing I have ever done in my crampons. I made it up and got to the final summit rock. I just barely touched the top of that....there is no way I would want to sit on it and absolutely no way in hell stand on it!!!

Sean then came up with Ava who was obviously a bit freaked out. We got her up the rock I was standing on and her poor paws and claws were in death clench mode! I knew how she was feeling....but we got a photo! You have no idea what it is really like in that photo because you just see us on a rock that could be huge with another giant rock behind us - it all looks quite cozy and lovely, but we know ;-). We gingerly picked our way down and Sean with Ava on the leash. We got past the exposed move (again I crawled and Sean was mad at me since he said it had good hand holds up top). We let Ava off leash and got our packs on and headed down while another couple was coming up. They were a bit surprised by Ava of course. On our way down the snow slope from the saddle we came across a team of six people roped up in two teams. They were students from an Eastern WA school or something like that. This climb was part of a class I think which is pretty neat.

All the people we saw had gone the burgundy col route. We were the only Silver Star Creek route. The weather was so awesome and the rock on all the spires surrounding Silver Star is very cool and beautiful. It’s funny, but Silver Star looks just like a little bump compared to those spires! You can’t tell from afar how scrambly the summit is.

The hard snow from the morning had softened nicely for the down. Way back down near the creek it was that terrible breaking through snow to boulders where you think you might break your leg at any moment kind of fun. We eventually got past that and back on trail and down to the car at 3:15pm. An even 10 hours. All in all a super awesome day made especially nice because Sean went back to do it just for me (and Ava).

Since we were done early we had enough time for a leisurely meal at Mondo’s where they totally recognize us and we chatted with the owners. We got complimentary gyoza (being GF I only ate the insides) and an orange for dessert. They were sad the weather was rainy on Sat/Sun and said they were slow. We gave them a good tip for their excellent service, food, friendliness and because we should have gotten dinner from them on Sunday too. We then still had time to stop at Cascadia Farm for blueberry ice cream and a few tomato starts too. Awesome awesome day :-)
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