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Alisse

[TR] Mount Constance - Finger Traverse 05/23/2019

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Trip: Mount Constance - Finger Traverse

Trip Date: 05/23/2019

Trip Report:

This past Thursday, Zorina and I climbed Mount Constance via the Finger Traverse. I know there's a lot of route info out there, but this website needs trip reports and maybe someone wants a conditions update :P The trip was great: the route was interesting and in the conditions when we were there, a little taste of everything: talus, steep snow, scree-skiing, slab, class 3/4/5 scrambling, and sweet ridge-walking. And an improbable-looking giant summit block! 

Wednesday we made the approach to Lake Constance. We didn't want to mess around with bikes, but it wasn't a big deal. It's about 5 miles along the Dosewallips from where you can park to the turn-off for the unmaintained trail up to the lake. The trail is flagged/marked the entire way and easy to follow. Cool trail: burned out steep section, flatter middle section with crazy moss and enormous boulders (glacial erratics?!), and then some root pulling up top. Lots of blowdowns the whole way. Saw lots of wildflowers and trees in bloom, including rhododendrons, lupine, indian paintbrush, and a dogwood. Lots of some big beetle and an interesting black and yellow millipede-like insect. 

 

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At the lake, we did have to cross some sections of snow to get around to the north side where there are a few camp spots. Bear wire and toilet intact! TONS of fish, wish I had a fishing setup! (I think we saw a sign that said after June 1, fishing is allowed.) The snafflehounds were out in full force, and it appears that one gnawed a hole through Zorina's water bladder (of course, right at the bottom...) :anger:

 

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In the morning, we got going around 6 AM and were on talus then snow and a bit of scree gully up to the notch with a rainbow behind us. Descending traverse over to the next gully system, and then up scree or more solid rock scrambling. Not bad! At the next (E-W) notch, a rising traverse and some steep snow. Working our way over, finding a few cairns, we finally found the finger traverse, which is exposed but manageable; it was still under snow for probably half of it (I think?) so it might be harder once all that melts out. As it was, there was a nice moat for your feet for part of it. Then some more ridge walking, some steep snow traverses, then a descending traverse to the base of a gully in these crazy choss pinnacles. Ridge scrambling fun, then to the summit block -- spiral scramble staircase up the back, and then you're on top!

 

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I really should have brought my skis...

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Photo by Zorina
 

A pair of bald eagles soared on thermals for a good 3 or 4 minutes while we were up there. Spectacular summit views including Puget Sound and islands, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, The Brothers, Jupiter, and Olympus!

 

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Photo by Zorina

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Photo by Zorina

 

The descent was uneventful, with some down climbing and plunge stepping and boot skiing (both on snow and scree) and some glissading. The steep descent after the lake was not for the weak-kneed. Owch.

 

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Luckily, no one had broken into Zorina's car! A great ending.

 

Times: 

6ish hours up from lake, 3.5ish hours back to lake.

Gear Notes:
Light axe, light pons, 30m rope and a few nuts if you want to protect the finger traverse

Approach Notes:
Dosewallips River Road to road end; walk/bike road to well-signed turnoff for Lake Constance
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Excellent photos and TR, Constance is on my list.  I'm thinking this time of year might be optimal for less talus and more glissading?

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On 5/25/2019 at 5:03 PM, Alisse said:

The snafflehounds were out in full force, and it appears that one gnawed a hole through Zorina's water bladder (of course, right at the bottom...) :anger:

I find that putting everything in a big plastic bag at night seems to dissuade those little bastards.  I think they don't like chewing through the soft plastic of a bag?  Or maybe I've just been lucky?

Yes @curtveld@Alisse is right on the money.  This is the time of year when you want to go for Constance!  Also, check out the West Arete (photos broken in the cc.com db for the time being unfortunately) which is profiled in Kearney's excellent selected climbs guide.

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@JasonG Huh, well..her water bladder is soft plastic and they definitely didn't have a problem biting through it 😢

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11 hours ago, Alisse said:

her water bladder is soft plastic

Not like a thin plastic bag. I don't think it is a coincidence that nothing in my garbage bag has been chewed over the past 20 years while often things left outside have been.  I'm guessing it gums up the bastards' teeth or something?

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On 5/25/2019 at 5:03 PM, Alisse said:

really should have brought my skis...

For sure! Constance holds abundant good ski lines.

Thanks for the report, and nice work. That mountain's summit is a favorite, exposed and fantastic views all around.

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Sicko! Great TR and images... it looks like you two had *perfect* conditions up there. Such a beautiful climb on the ridge, with plenty of airy feelings and spectacular views. Well done!!

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