Ascent of North Gardner Mountain on 2018-09-29
|Date:||Saturday, September 29, 2018|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
|Peak:||North Gardner Mountain|
| Elevation:||8956 ft / 2729 m|
Ascent Trip ReportSeptember 29, 2018 5:30am – 6:30pm
34 miles, 8,000ft gain
A portion of the Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness had just been reopened from fire closures, and that meant Abernathy and the Gardners were available for climbing. I’d been working to tighten my Bulger completion time after finishing at the end of August, and these peaks would shave a few more months off the clock.
My plan was to hit all three peaks as a daytrip. This would mean doing the standard routes up the Gardners, but the nonstandard north ridge up Abernathy. I read that the north ridge was third class, so shouldn’t be too hard.
I picked up a rental car at Budget Friday afternoon and drove out to the Wolf Creek trailhead that night. I was moving the next morning by 5:30am, and reached Gardner Meadows about three hours later. There was one hunter there looking for deer, and one hiker that had just headed up Gardner. I went for Abernathy first, since I was the least certain about how long this one would take given the bushwhacking and nonstandard route.
According to my USFS map there was an old trail leading to a mine at a small tarn on the northeast side of Abernathy. However, there is very little evidence of this trail leaving Gardner Meadows, and it appears to be abandoned. I bushwhacked along the rough location of the trail, and saw occasional cairns and cut logs. Closer to Abernathy Lake the trail became distinct enough to follow all the way to a small dried-up tarn that I’ve seen referred to as Nasty Pond. There were remnants of a small cabin here, and even an old pot on a fire pit.
From the tarn I followed a spur ridge up to the north ridge of Abernathy, then picked up an old trail on the ridge leading to an abandoned mine site. There were metal cables and other equipment laying on the rocks. The trail disappeared after the mine site, and I scrambled up class 2/3 terrain to the summit by 11am.
I could see burned forest in the Twisp River valley below, but the only sign of smoke was off in the distance near Libby Creek. I signed in, then retraced my route down to near Gardner Meadows. Here I took a shortcut, traversing up high to gain the south slopes of Gardner Mountain. I’d climbed the Gardners before, and remembered it makes more sense to climb Gardner first, since the rocks on the slope are more solid, then descend from North Gardner on the loose scree slopes.
I quickly ascended Gardner and reached the top in the fog. From there I followed the ridge over to North Gardner and signed in.
Apparently I was the first one up there since early August. As I was ascending I saw a big group of eight people in the valley below North Gardner, but it appears they did not summit.
The scree glissading was fast and fun down from North Gardner, and I soon returned to Gardner Meadows. There I talked to one hiker who had attempted Gardner that morning, but had turned around due to the fog.
I hiked back to the car in a few more hours, arriving just in time before it started raining hard. The next mountain on my agenda was Oval Peak, which had just opened that day as the fire closure area was further reduced.
Link to full trip report and pictures.
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