The Brothers - Standard w/ hourglass var.Date:
A few weeks ago my son Jordan was looking at the Brothers and announced he was ready to climb it. I had been waiting for this moment for some years so utilizing the fact both our birthdays are in May (he's 14) and the fact I far prefer snow to scree, I thought the timing was ideal. With the ideal weekend forecast, and after getting my lawn mowed Saturday morning, we took the slightly longer drive around the south end of Hood Canal due to the bridge closure. We began the hike around 3:15 and soon we were at sparkling Lena Lake.
We took a break and then headed up through the Valley of Silent Men. I have to say of all the approaches in Washington, this is one of my favorite. The forest is lush with ferns and moss, there is a stream most of the way and the path crosses the stream numerous times on log bridges in gorgeous settings.
We arrived at climbers camp at the fork, set up the tent and cooked dinner. It was just a treat to see that all this overnight alpine climbing stuff was a new experience for my son. He was truly enjoying every moment. We have climbed a few mountains before, but never overnight with full pack of gear.
My son is not a morning person, but handing him a cup of hot chocolate at 5:30 helped get him awake. A bowl of oatmeal and we were off around 6:15. The climbers trail was easy to follow in the morning light and soon we were navigating the burned section and then up the steep stream bed. For the most part the flags are helpful, but sometimes not. Do not cross the stream onto the far ridge, rather stay in the stream bed until you gain the open slopes above.
In warm sun we donned our harness and helmets and began the snow climbing, much of it in 2 day old avalanche debris. Soon we were at the point where we had to decide to take the hourglass or traverse right to circumvent the cliffs.
The snow had not frozen the night before and step kicking was easy so I put him on a 30 ft. rope and headed up the hourglass, a narrow, slot couloir with rock walls on both sides. We crossed one moat half way and at the top we came up against a waterfall. A short section of 4th class exit right got us onto the upper slopes and we were excited to have chosen the much more direct and alpine variation. The main gulley above was soft, but we eventually found some steps from a solo climber above us which made things easier. We caught him at a lunch rock at about 6,000 feet. From this point it is difficult to choose the real summit block and which way to go. We went up and slightly left which got us to a short, narrow gulley and then onto a knife ridge.
From there we could see the real summit was to the right. Not wanting to go back down, I headed up a very steep, but short section with big exposure off the west side. Jordan announced he was very scared, but I kept the rope tight until he joined me on a flat section. Looking up it appeared we would have 2 more similar sections of short and steep with knife ridge between, but the exposure was bothering him so we went down a short gulley and then turned left up a broader gulley. By doing this we avoided the middle steep section with exposure and we were at the 3rd and final section, but the exposure was not off the west side and only back into the gulley. Jordan said he was ok with this so up we went and soon we were walking the final steps to the summit.
The view into the interior of the Olympics was fabulous and through some haze we could see all 5 Washington volcanos.
Looking down on the Hood Canal and then finding the various Islands in Puget Sound was fun too. We found a sunny spot out of the wind in some rocks and shared some of our lunch with a couple chipmunks who quickly found us. We then headed down the real standard route
and soon we were butt glissading in the biggest otter slide I can remember.
Other than having to stop to give our frozen butts a break, we were down quickly to the top of the approach gulley and we took a long break on warm rocks in the hot sun drying out our socks and pouring water out of our boots. As we were sitting there Jordan said to me, "here come some more climbers", which surprised me at that time of day. I couldn't see anyone, but he said he saw some legs go behind a large rock. A few minutes later a large male goat appeared, not people!
He slowly moved up past us and eventully worked his way up an impressive rock face, much to the enjoyment of Jordan to witness the true agility of a mountain goat! We continued down...
and an hour later we were back in camp and we relaxed some more and casually packed up the tent. We were glad we had elected to approach in running shoes instead of wearing our boots because it meant we had dry feet for the hike out. We once again thoroughly enjoyed the hike down through the VofSM.
The way too many switchbacks down from Lena Lake got annoying, but we joked about the Captain Handi(cap) trail and soon found the cold beer and pop in the car. An ice cream cone in Hoodsport was just the ticket to make the ride home enjoyable and we really enjoyed the changing view of the Brothers from the car as we drove north along the Hood Canal through Belfair, Bremerton and Poulsbo and back down Bainbridge Island to home. Gear Notes:
Ice Axe, helmet, short rope,trail candy.Approach Notes:
One of the most beautiful in Washington! Stay in the burned out section until you can access the stream bed in the gulley by avoiding slide alder.