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Ascent of Mount Si on 2017-06-06

Climber: Martin Ralya

Others in Party:Cheryl R.
Date:Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Si
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:4180 ft / 1274 m

Ascent Trip Report

Since I started peakbagging in 2013, this is the first hike I can recall where something went seriously wrong, and where going down took longer than going up.

The hike up was great. The parking lot was only 25% full at 9:00 am on a Tuesday. I haven't done a hike like this in roughly three years, but we still kept a solid 2 MPH pace the whole way up to the basin. It was tougher than I thought, but enjoyable. I continued on to the haystack.

The lower 90% of the haystack was right up there with the hardest scrambles I've climbed. At the 90% mark, I was pretty sure I was just 20 vertical feet from the summit -- but I wasn't positive I was looking at the summit. I was a bit worried there'd be more after that. And what I saw had significant exposure, and looked like it might be too much for me.

I took 10 minutes to clear my head and decided to climb partway up, and then back down, just to see what it was like. In hindsight, I was still psyching myself out a bit. Then a couple other folks showed up, and they casually walked up the final 20 feet -- no hands. That gave me the confidence boost I needed to follow them to the summit.

The summit provided the best view I've had since moving to Washington in 2015. Absolutely stunning, clear to the horizon in every direction, and a view of Rainier I doubt I'll ever surpass. It's an amazing summit.

Around 30 minutes into the trip back down, though, I noticed I was moving very slowly -- much more slowly than my mom. About an hour in I realized I had heatstroke. It wasn't especially hot out, but I'm no longer used to sun and high altitudes (like I was in Utah), I was fatigued, and I was stressed from the haystack climb; I think all that combined pushed me over into heatstroke.

I was utterly miserable the rest of the way down, burning up and with a pounding headache (despite having drunk 5 liters of water), and rather than my typical pace -- getting down in 66% of the time it takes me to go up -- it took a long time to reach the trailhead.

I was lucid, but not capable of driving; mom had to drive us home. I was glad to have a companion, and given that I generally hike solo this was a sobering experience all around. If the heatstroke had hit, say, while I was on the summit, the scramble back to the basin could have been dangerous. I think I'd have made it back in one piece, but I'd have had to sit in the car for an hour or so before I could drive home.

I'm very glad I made it to the summit, and all in all it was a good hike. It did cause me to reevaluate my wishlist, and to wipe off all of the higher, more challenging peaks for this year. Clearly I need to build myself back up to the point where a hike like Si is in my wheelhouse before I push myself any higher.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3520 ft / 1072 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Route:Main Si Trail
    Trailhead:Trailhead  660 ft / 201 m
    Grade/Class:YDS Class 3
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant
Low 60s and almost entirely clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 



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