Ascent of Old Snowy Mountain on 2018-07-28

Climber: Johnny Petraborg

Date:Saturday, July 28, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Old Snowy Mountain
    Elevation:7880 ft / 2401 m

Ascent Trip Report

Half the team decided to drive to the Berry Patch (4,650’) Friday evening for trailhead camping. The rest of the team arrived Saturday morning for an early start. The 4.2 mile trail up to Snowgrass Flats took us through progressively thinning evergreen forests and occasional clusters of early fruiting blueberries.

Snowgrass Flats (5,930’) was where wildflowers began to reveal themselves: Indian paintbrush, lupine, columbine, and beargrass were on display with abundance. We continued up to the Pacific Crest Trail (6,400’) where open alpine meadows were framed by the craggy, rubble-strewn ridges of Old Snowy and Ives Peak. Our plan was to camp on the high end of the meadows near the PCT to avoid mosquitoes and be well-positioned for our peak scrambles. After finding a suitable campsite near a small stream and snowfield, we cleared rocks and setup our three tents and bivvy site. The site overlooked open meadows, the Goat Creek basin, and had excellent views to the south of Mount Adams.

Under clear blue skies at 6,500’, Goat Rocks was a pleasant escape from the lowland heat wave. Temperatures barely topped 80 degrees.

By early afternoon, we filtered water, prepared our summit packs, and set off to scramble Old Snowy 1.4 miles and 1,100’ away. High meadows gave way to boulder fields and talus slopes as we ascended the PCT to its highest point in Washington state at 7,650’. At that shoulder Johnny recognized BOEALPS alumni Dave who was on a solo 16 mile loop hike of the area. We then began our proper scramble up the summit block. We made rapid progress over easy 2nd and 3rd class terrain with minimal exposure. The real risk was rockfall from dayhikers above, who at one point, set free a large load of loose volcanic gravel over the east ridge onto the McCall Glacier below. In the end, all seven team members achieved the 7,900’ summit. High fives and summit treats for all! Views extended from Mount Adams north to Mount Rainier.

Following Beckey’s guidance and other climber beta, it was our plan to attempt the half mile ridge scramble between Old Snowy and Ives Peak. But upon inspection and quick scouting of the route, we identified some likely impassable gendarmes. Unprepared for technical travel on loose broken rock, we decided not to proceed along the ridge to Ives Peak. We then backtracked to a lower trail junction.

Half the team returned to camp, while three members proceeded across the valley to Goat Lake (6,420’.) For awhile, the Goat Lake group followed a climbers path that traversed steep talus slopes and passed by gothic formations of broken rock, including two ‘thrones’ built from the flat flaked rock. The descending traverse led across snowfields, where the team followed goat beta (hoof-prints) that led to an established trail to Goat Lake. The lake was busy with dayhikers and campers, who marveled at the goat herd perched high on the cirque cliffs surrounding the lake. The lake was still largely covered by ice, but that didn’t stop one adventurous teammate from going in for a brief plunge. To return to camp, the team followed the trail that cut across the valley to a point where they departed the trail and followed a dry streambed up to a meadowy ridgeline that avoided nearby steep talus slopes. Eventually, the chosen course intersected the PCT a couple hundred yards from camp.

At camp, all members dined before the daily debrief. All enjoyed the setting sun before retiring to tents & bivvies. After dark, a full moon rose above the eastern ridgeline and lit up the meadows and Mount Adams.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble

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