3- Fingers Traverse - North(ne butt) to SouthDate:
Welcome to camping season fellow grovelers. The season is now in full swing with a couple of great ski reports and some rare and good early season weather. Being discouraged a couple of weeks ago by deep snow, I figured the trick would be to visit the lower elevation peaks. This turned out to be a correct instinct. The usual problem in this region is that when the sun comes out it gets too hot/ dangerous. That wasnt the case this weekend. It was a cool and breezy air in the mountains, pure bliss..
hope you got some.
Among the more obvious peaks that I rarely can see from my bedroom window , the 3 Fingers ,is the one of them that looks like a real mountain.
Up closer it proves to be quite terrifying and very alpine.-- Right here I have to commend the people crazy enough to do the winter thing here! this area screams of avalanche terrain. Nowhere to hide.--
I had the idea to do a traverse of the 3 Fingers by starting on the NE Buttress of the North Finger.
It looked like it could be a great early season option. From there would it be a "Natural Traverse Ridge"? Could we stay in the South summit Lookout Hut on the 2nd night? Begged the questions. My first obstacle was to find the lost soul who didnt already have plans for the Memorial Day weekend. It wasnt easy and I would have had no partner if I hadnt charmed Doug into the scheme.
It pays to do some homework on your out-of-the way ideas. Many times our plan was revised on the fly. The first idea was to car shuttle by dropping off the car at the south. Wrong#1. (wrongs will be numbered from this point, for expediency sake this is:W#1)
It seems, The Green Mt road is closed 8 miles before the trailhead, dang. Anybody know why? We then opted to look at going back to a round trip traverse. This meant we would need to start from and return to Squire creek road. Descent route back to saddle camp?: unknown, and for very good reason. We thought we would truck ahead to Darrington via the Mt Loop Hwy, --W#2-- it is still closed for snow removal. We were getting impatient with moving back and forth with cars and gear. It now seemed we would have to start over and go back to Arlington. sigh..
Now on a new plan mode, the extra study of the mountain would hopefully pay off? It wasnt long after the Squire Creek trail head we would see a rough W#3. Trying our darnedest to stick to the unusually elaborate approach beta in the Beckey guide, we would dangerously botch the approach.I dubbed the desperate "timbered ridge" into: Stupid Ridge. Though it follows the description, please, stay the hell away from it!
-Looking down "Stupid Ridge"
We would later find the better way to get in there. The current snow level is 3k feet and it is still quite deep above that.
The last hill before the bivy saddle, NE Butt on right.
What an amazing alpine arena the North side is!! We marveled at the audacity of the recent parties who braved the frozen waterfalls and gullies. TR of one of the renowned climbs
.Yet another Trip Report
It will be the scene of more insanity in the future I am sure.
After a bundled game of charades we settled into a DRY cozy bivy in a sea of snow
The route above looked to be in great shape.
We had good temps and team chemistry looked promising. The partner named MountainmanDoug would prove to be a solid find. Amazing to just find such luck partnering up on the internet! Eat your heart out, Craigslust!
The morning came early and we were off in cold temps-to be warmed at times -by the sun
The climbing was great! We stopped several times to belay, did most of it simo-solo. It was great to squeeze in one more ice/mixed route this incredible year.
Here, I will shut up and let the pics do the talking...
After hundreds of meters of awesome (-yet-not-too-tough- )climbing, we reached this incredible summit!
Doug On the North Summit of Three Fingers Mt.
From there we decided to extend the fun by doing the other 2 fingers behind Doug here. The next would be the fun snow route, Middle Finger.
Rappelling down the N.Finger.
The Middle Finger(Ha,ha) Snow route
The Summit of Middle, North Finger in background
After going down the other side of the middle, we opted to just summit the South Finger via an easier way than the uncharted North Ridge . I saw a great opportunity there for a "clean" traverse, but at the time the mid-to- high 5th class terrain looked choked with snow and ice. Also gnawing at our minds was: how in the heck we were supposed to get back to the bivy saddle?
Getting to the South Summit, it was cool to see how man had temporarily tamed such a savage place with such a hut as the old fire lookout that is at the very top!
. Getting there at noon , it now seemed wise to not stay there, as we wanted to have plenty of time to figure out how to get back to the bivy saddle without killing ourselves. This would turn out to seem like W#4, but somehow we figured the way was down the glacier, then up the separating ridge to the north then traverse super steep slopes until entering a gully that (literally) dumped into the lower Craig Lake. I wouldn't wanted to have done it without snow/ ever.
It went ok, but it is easy to figure out why Beckey doesnt mention it as an option. It was a potentially very dangerous venture.
Here is the last dangerous ice down-climb.Huge cornice looming above.
Making the long slog back to the saddle was wet but getting back at a decent hour was good for drying out and resting after a great day of mountaineering.
As you can tell, this was one of "Those" trips. Fun and adventurous from start to finish. Pure joy , and a reminder why..
Looking ahead to your reports, as always ,Wayne