Ascent of Granite Mountain on 2007-04-28

Climber: Graham Priestley

Others in Party:11 People total
Date:Saturday, April 28, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Granite Mountain
    Elevation:5629 ft / 1715 m

Ascent Trip Report

Trail (Scramble) Data
The Main pratt lake trail is very well maintained with no obstruction, blowdowns, or snow to the Granite Mountain turn off. The trail to GM is a lot steeper and not as smooth. Rocks and roots abound, but nice steps occasionally show up. Be wary of vegetable belays that may strike a unsuspecting hiker directly behind you. Trail is very muddy and the final 50 yrds to the climbers path is covered in snow. Main trail is completely buried in snow after this. An earlier avalance has felled many trees beyond this point and routefinding is rather challenging if you wish to stay on the summer trail. If you find yourself overwhelmed with OCD and find yourself absolutly needing/dying to go up granite following the summer trail, expect to posthole consistently down to your groin. The Trail is a great path for melting water and there seems to be a nice 2 foot cave above the trail then 3 feet of snow above it. Kick steps and make a route above the trail for easier going. The author of this reports does not recommend summiting Granite this route. The scramble route, though much more stenuous, will be more efficient to reach the summit at this time of the year.

Trip Report

We exited off of the main trail and onto the climbers trail at aprox. 2800 feet (Outskirts of first avalance gully). Typical scramble route (pick your beaten down path) for a few hundred feet then we reached consolidated snow. Ice axes and helmets were donned and up we went, switching from dirt & heather to snow and back. After several hundred feet it was all snow then we traversed to the west to get out of the avalance gulley. Here we proceeded up to where the scrambling began in earnest with the slope at 35°-40°. Kicked stepped our way up along side the talus to our right, switching every now and then from the snow slopes to the talus to the 5100 mark with a few breaks along the way. At around the 5400 mark, our leader took us to the Mallory step portion of the scramble, which was a 20 foot section of 80° snow. I dug in my ice axe (like the others that followed me), kicked in my feet hard and punched my free left had into the snow to ascend.. Real entertainment.. and a blast.

After all the others made it.. We pushed to the Lookout in misty conditions. I ate lunch and talked with the others.. Quite interesting that all of us worked in the Software industry. All but one were software engineers. All of these exept me and two other people work for Microsoft. Does Programming and mountaineering go hand in hand ? Any way I digress.

As I ate my lunch.. The weather began to clear up and the sun made its introduction. Along with this perfect views opened up. To the North were Kaleeten, Roosevelt, Chair Peak, Bryant, The Tooth, Snoqualmie, Denny, Guye, and Lundin. Tuscohatchie Lake is still frozen and Crystal lake has so much snow on it that someone might think its level earth. To the East the summits of Hyak, Catherine, Silver Peak, Abiel (sp?), and Humpback. To the South and SouthWest were Kent, McClellan, Washington and Si. Bessemer, Garfield, Quartz and others were to be had this wonderful Saturday. However none of the Hwy 2 peaks northward came out to play. Either did Rainier. I couldn't complain, I was more than content. Even the notorious Mark (Seattle Mountaineers climbing leader), made an appearance with his small dog.

After just over an hour, we descended the standard route. Avoiding the cornices, we plunge stepped down the ridge. One guy post-holed so far in that it took 3 people to pull him out. When we reached the 5300 mark. Our leader let us all practice ice arrest. The Seattle group had done this on their snow field trip the week before. The Seattle group was practically all but one person from the Everett group, which would be me. My snow field trip is next week. However they haven't done rock yet.. and I have.. neener.. neener. Did the four possible body positional slides (On back/feet first, on back/head first, on stomach/feet down slope, and on stomach/face down slope. Did them all, and I have to work on looking at opposition from the ice axe and keeping my legs WIDE apart.

After an hour of the arrest practice.. down we went. We found the standard trail buried under feet of snow. We knew we were over it because serious post holeing occured due to the underground river of meltwater than uses the trail as a convienient channel. This sucked. We tried to avoid the horrible postholing by going directly down a snow free gulley. After 15 minutes of bushwacking down steep rock, soil, heather, and some occasional yells of "ROCK!!! ROCK!!! ROCK!!!" from the others above me. I and a few others put our helmets back on . A few minutes later we hit some cliff bands and stubbornly decided to head directly back up the way we came. We then traversed, kicking steps, on the snow slopes to the west across a couple avy gulleys and located the snow buried trail. We postholed our way down the trail until we reached a colossal avalanche remnant.. 50 trees were felled, Still standing trees had complete sides with missing branches, Soil was the top layer with snow underneath (Kind of like an ice cream cone dipped in chocolate). We lost the trail after encountering the avalance destruction. It was around 5:00 pm at this time and we met at least 4 people making their way up to the summit . A couple (Dude and gal in Native American Skorts) were actually trying to ascend throught the avalanche destruction. We told them about the climbers path up the gulley quite close to all these felled trees.. They listened and made for the climbers path . We then found our climbers path and followed it down. We found the trail and looked up to see the couple had stopped at the snow line and were obviously bickering about their next move. He was up hill and wanted to press on, where she had more sense and wanted to head back to the car. This is speculation, but from the hand gestures, She had the intelligence to know summiting wouldn't happen. From here on the trip is pretty uneventful.. Follow trail for an hour to parkinglot... We were back at our cars at 6:25 pm. 10 and a half hour day . My feet hurt, but no blisters..

Pictures and report here
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3829 ft / 1167 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3829 ft / 1167 m
    Route:Winter Scramble Route
    Start Trailhead:Granite Mountain Trail  1800 ft / 548 m
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Route:Standard ridge route
    End Trailhead:5629 ft / 1715 m
    Time:5 Hours 30 Minutes

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