Here are some pictures Mike and I took when we tried to climb Dome Peak in September of 2002...  This trip is more memorable than pleasurable though...  Not only did we not summit, we couldn't even see the summit.  Plus, as we tried to make Itswoot Ridge in a day with overnight climbing packs, I hit a wall on Cub Ridge, got chilled, and then had to dry heave to keep from convulsing.  All this time with weather moving in - I was lucky Mike didn't mind setting up the camp so we could hop into shelter just before the lightning and rain!

The pictures in Jim Nelson's book are inspiring - a massive cascade glacier, a prominent summit, a remote approach.  Mike was pumped to give this climb another shot.  He had tried to solo it several years earlier, but turned back before even making Cub Ridge.  He convinced me this was going to be fun, in on Friday, climb on Saturday, and come out either Saturday night or Sunday.  We left Seattle early Friday morning, and got to the trailhead around 9:00.  On the trail shortly thereafter, it takes a couple hours to make the six-plus mile journey to Six Mile Camp along Downey Creek, where the real hike begins.  After a break, we head up the trail next to Bachelor Creek.  We figure we have 6 hours to make 5 miles - no problem.  About a mile up Bachelor Creek, we hit one of the signature traits of this trail - shrub growth that all but obscures the trail, six and seven feet tall.  This goes on for about 2 miles...  The trail breaks out of the weeds into a stand of timber, just before the real elevation gain takes place.  When we hit the base of Cub Ridge (my name for it), we find a massive area of blow-down due to a spring avalanche.  There is no trail left...  So knowing we need to make the top, Mike plots a beeline up the ridge over logs, and kick-stepping in to the exposed soil.  I'm already feeling the strain, so I'm lagging...  Mike makes a knoll above the avalanche area, and comes down to my position to take weight, and help me up.  Once on the knoll - we can see the pass that leads to Cub Lake, and we can also see the weather soon won't be cooperating with us.

Back on the trail, Mike moves ahead to scout the area, while I do what I can to get up to the pass.  Finally, at around 6:00 pm, I make the pass, and we make the decision to camp here, instead of heading down to the lake, or further.  Mike finds a fairly protected area in the trees, and we start to set up.  Meanwhile, the day's exertion has taken it's toll on me - and I'm spent.  The only thing I could do was watch, puke, and then climb into my sleeping bag and warm up.  Meanwhile, the lightning had begun, followed by a steady rain.  The next morning, feeling better, I get some food in me, and we talk about our options.  Mike wants to at least get up Itswoot Ridge to see the summit.  I make no promises, but will at least go down to Cub Lake to look around.  While still fairly socked in, at least it isn't raining and we head down to the lakes.

The lakes, Cub up above and Itswoot lower, are typical high Cascade lakes with steep banks, and crystal water.  The surrounding meadows would be spectacular in earlier in the summer.  We move around the lakes, and Mike decides to head up Itswoot.  We had decided a climb was out of the question, and that we might as well head out that night.  So I head back up to camp to start breaking it down.  Mike made it up Itswoot in about 45 minutes, and radioed over that it is completely socked in, and the glacier and summit are nowhere to be found.  After he returned to camp, we head back down about 3:30.  We get back to Six Mile Camp at about 6:30, break, and head out on the final push at around 7:00.  The light is gone by 8:15, so we put on our headlamps.  Mike was having trouble with his the previous evening, and it was totally inoperative now.  So we had to hike out under my headlamp...  Then, at around 9:00, the weather had moved back in - the rain starts first as a drip, and then settles in as a steady shower.  Slowed by the visibility and slippery trail, we finally get back to the car at 10:45, thoroughly exhausted, and soaked.

So, below are highlights to the trip - to view the pictures full size, just click on the thumbnails...  For reference, here is a topo map and a profile of the approach, and here is a relief map showing the surrounding terrain.

The hike up... - The hike to Six Mile Camp gains around 800 feet, but is up and down gentle grades.  It stays along Downey Creek.  At Bachelor Creek, where the camp is located, there is a log crossing.  Mike snapped this shot as I made my way across.  On the way out, a slip had me in around a foot of water.  But since the hike through the weeds had already soaked me, it didn't make much difference...  If attempted in the spring, the extra run-off would make this thoroughly exciting.

Tom crossing Bachelor Creek at Six Mile Camp...

Climbing anything... Mike will climb anything.  Here, I caught him up on some Elephant Ears fungi.  This spot marks the beginning of the trail overgrowth area.  The trail makes its way through plants varying from just a couple feet, to over seven feet tall.  It seems like they never dry out, always willing to drip into anything open in your clothing...

Mike climbs some elephant ears...

And the jungle encroaches... - As the trail follows up Bachelor Creek, the timber opens up to meadow.  The meadows are thick and green this time of year.  Here Mike is standing in one of the more open meadows...

Mike in a meadow along Bachelor Creek...

Late summer flowers... - The extended summer, and high previous winter snow pack has allowed the flowers to flourish late into the summer this year.  Also continuing to bloom were large stands of heather. 

Late summer flowers...

If there is a rock... - Mike will climb it.  Here I catch him on a large boulder sitting out in the open.  When we come across rocks like these, I often wonder how long that rock has been sitting there.  Out in the open, it was probably left by the last glacier in this area, around 10,000 years ago! 

Mike on a boulder in the meadow...

In the weeds... - As we start to make our way out of the vegetation, Mike snapped this shot of me.  Next, it's a stand of timber where the hiking was great, but followed shortly by the avalanche from hell. 

Tom standing in the weeds on the way in...

This was a big one... - Once out of the timber, the trail is suppose switch back up the ridge.  Instead we were greeted with this sight of mass destruction.  And the pictures don't do it justice.  Hundreds of feet inside the forest still standing, lay the trunks of trees 2 feet in diameter that were tossed around like toothpicks.  The scars left on still standing trees document the chaos that must have been...  With no trail to follow, we decide to just make the ridge on a straight approach.

Avalanche debris in our path...

Slow going... - In the debris zone of the area, the going is extremely slow as we carefully make our way up on fallen logs.  Mike snapped this shot as I tightrope a sixty foot log.  Although it appears that I'm only a few feet above the ground, I'm actually around ten feet up as the logs are stacked like pick-up sticks. 

Tom hiking above the blow-down...

So what's next... - Mike catches me as I breathe a bit easier after a log crossing.  Another five hundred feet, and we'll be over the debris, and then it's a matter of kick stepping up the loose soil of the slope, and avoiding other logs.

Tom thinking about his next move...

On Cub Ridge... - As we made our way to the top of Cub Ridge, above Cub Lake, the weather is rolling in.  Thoroughly exhausted I let Mike know that this it for me for the day.  Mike took these shots as the ridge becomes enveloped by the clouds.  Weather moves in on Cub Ridge...

Socked in on Cub Ridge...

Good morning... - Mike catches me as I'm finally able to get some food down the next morning.  While I managed to sleep pretty well, I wasn't able to drink or eat anything the previous evening.  A pot of my favorite Japanese noodles will soon set me right.  The few english characters on the package indicate that I will be getting 2300% of my normal daily requirement of sodium! Tom eats after a long night...
Waterfall above Cub Lake... - Following breakfast, we figured out what the remaining itinerary was going to be.  I let Mike know that moving camp over to Itswoot Ridge wasn't going to happen for me, and we both realized weather going to make things difficult anyway.  So we decide to explore Cub Lake, and try to get up Itswoot to at least get beta on Dome.  The trail descends steeply to Cub Lake, and we get there in about 20 minutes.  After some looking around, Mike decides to head up Itswoot, while I head back to camp to start the teardown.  This waterfall is located above Cub Lake, and feeds a drainage that runs to Itswoot Lake. Waterfall above Cub Lake...
Mike on Itswoot Ridge... - It takes Mike only 45 minutes to get up to the pass on Itswoot Ridge.  Once there, he finds nothing but clouds - no glacier, no peak, no vista...  He took this self portait, before radioing the conditions over to me... Mike on Itswoot Ridge...
Boiling weather... - Mike took this other shot while on Itswoot as the weather simply rolled over the ridge.  It would have been nice to see some real scenery, but it's still an experience to catch the mountains when they are less friendly. Weather on Itswoot Ridge...
Snow cave... - Mike loves snow caves.  Whenever he comes across one, it's like a cat into a bag!  He found this one while on the ridge.  During nicer days, the sun must reflect well into the cave as he found moss growing deep inside.  The action of photosynthesis was releasing heat as he mentioned that cave was warmer and more moist than it was outside... Snow cave on Itswoot Ridge...

Looking out of the snow cave...

Clearer skies... - As we made way off of Cub Ridge, bluer skies were prevailing, briefly making us second guess out decision to leave that night.  A look around the surrounding ridges convinced us that this evening was going to be no different the previous one though.  But with the unexpected sunshine, came this shot of some pleasant scenery. Weather breaks on the way out...
More scenery... - As the clouds lifted for a bit, some of the surrounding peaks become visible.  Figuring they would disappearing again soon, Mike took this shot... Flowers on the way out...
Back through the ruins... - On the way down, we tried to follow the real trail as long as possible before getting into the avalanche area.  It didn't take long before trail slipped in obscurity, forcing us to head down more or less in a line towards where we knew it resumed.  Here, Mike catches me as come across the last of the debris.  It also shows a bit more of the scale of this event.  It's hard to believe that anything, or anyone would survive if caught this scale of a slide... Tom hiking out of the avalanche area...
And we're back into the weeds... - With the toughest part of the descent out of the way, it's back into the weeds for the rest of the way out.  This picture more or less summarizes this trip.  While my spirit was dampened by fatigue and weather, I'll be much better prepared to go back.  Next time, we plan to get to Six Mile Camp during the evening, camp and start from there.  That should allow enough time and energy to make the Itswoot for a base camp, making the climb that much more doable. Tom hiking out...

Back to Tom in the mountains...

 

Home - Contact - Search - Guest Book - What's Tom Up To

All content on this page is Copyright 2004, and can not be reproduced without the expressed permission of themarxes.us.

Accumulated page views since July 18, 2002: Hit Counter