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Ascent of Azurite Peak on 2015-09-05

Climber: Patty Cokus

Others in Party:Noel Howe
Bill Ashby
Date:Saturday, September 5, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Azurite Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:8400 ft / 2560 m

Ascent Trip Report

Original Labor Day Weekend Plan was to do Jack Mt. Split forecast (good Sat, bad Sun, good Mon) had us changing plans.

Decided to do Sat/Sun Azurite - car camp Sat night - one day on Monday Sahale/Boston. Was gonna be a big weekend. Due to deteriorating weather and Bill's constraint with a flight Monday ended up with Azurite Sat/Sun, Marblecreek campground on Cascade River Rd Sun night, hiked on Monday to Hidden Lake Peak/Lookout.

AZURITE

Met at Noel's Saturday morning at 4am. Drove out and stopped for coffee/pastries at Mazama Store, started hiking from end of Lost River Rd at 9am. Avalanche debris was pretty bad (on way back I did the high route over boulders...much better!). Lots of downed trees (got some new holes in my pants) and pretty brushy for the 8 miles to the junction with PCT. NOT good for bikes anymore. Noel spotted a juvenile bear early on with a gorgeous reddish colored coat. Running away from us and no sight of momma bear.

Met PCT trail about 12:20pm, saw a couple of people. Looked at camp spot just after crossing creek but decided to continue on (1.5-2miles?) to find the climbers trail off to the right (marked by big cairn w/ stick in it) and camping just beyond. Passed the climbers trail (on right) over a dry creekbed, over a small little creek to a cairn on left side with trail leading down towards bigger creek. HUGE camping spot in the woods right next to creek. Great spot :-) Made camp around 4,400 ft, ate some lunch, pumped water.

Started off about 2:15pm ready to gain the 4k in elevation. Climbers trail is a bit braided in beginning but not too hard to follow. After a bit it traverses left quite a bit. Eventually leads up to Azurite Pass I think 6,700ft. Headed up ridge (stay to right of trees). Got to a flattish spot and the wind was incredibly strong, weather totally rolling in and temp dropped dramatically. Bundled up...and hoped the snow/rain held off for just a bit longer.

Noel put on the burners and Bill and I were feeling the miles and elevation...trying to keep up. We all wanted to go as fast as possible to avoid the weather and get as far down as possible before darkness.

Traversed to a bump and climbed up, then mostly rising traverses over steep slopes, gullies, ribs, found quite a few cairns. There was some patchy fresh snow on the ground starting around 7k. Not a problem for us.

Eventually got to the base of the correct easy gully where you can touch both sides with your arms stretched out (even I could!) Gully widens up and turns a few times, passed icicles hanging under rocks, generally trended climbers left until reached a point where topped out and turned right to go up to summit block. Considering weather and short daylight these days my turnaround time was 6pm and we made it on top at 5:50pm. Basically zero views, clouds were in. Took a few photos, Noel signed the register for all of us. Headed down just after 6pm. Downclimbing wasn't too bad, only took the gloves off twice for the harder sections. Went one at a time in the narrowest part at the base due to rockfall. Even with the three of us being used to loose rock and very careful we sent some bigger ones down.

Made it fairly easily back to Azurite pass (wind had died a bit and was less cold). Made it down a bit of trail before needing headlamps. Started sprinkling on us at some point but fairly misty and not drenching.

Back to camp just after 9pm so a 12 hour day for about 15 miles and 5,700ft gain. I thought the scrambling was pretty fun but would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been worried about the impending weather and darkness. I'd say class 3 maybe a few steps of 3+ or 4 but nothing was exposed so that helps me.

Had dinner with just a bit of rain, the trees helped there. Went to bed and up at 7am, hiking out sometime around 9am. Had a very WET hike out due to falling rain but mostly the wet brush. My approach shoes were completely squishing for basically all 10 miles out... Back to the cars around 1pm and stopped again at Mazama store.

Entertained various options for the rest of our weekend, called Sean who sent updated weather reports. There was one camp permit left for Sahale but since we had snow on Azurite and figured more snow on Sunday we didn't think Boston would be doable for us. Considered Black but would have to hike in now, didn't have dinners so would have to buy some, not enough time to do that and then get back to TH and hike in. I wasn't motivated since I had just done it.

Decided to take it a little easier and have fun. Had dinner at Mondo and camped on CRR at Marblecreek campground. Hidden Lake Peak and Lookout for Monday got us back to Seattle with plenty of time for Bill's flight. Very little holiday traffic as well.


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