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[TR] Tenpeak and Kololo- Witness to Vanishing Ice - Standards 09/01/2019

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Trip: Tenpeak and Kololo- Witness to Vanishing Ice - Standards

Trip Date: 09/01/2019

Trip Report:

The Cascades have become a bit of a gong show in recent years, and much more so on holiday weekends.  This was on full display the Saturday of Labor Day weekend as @therunningdog and I slogged up the North Fork Sauk trail en route to White Pass, passing no less than 50 (!) people bound for Glacier Peak the next day.  The overflowing parking area attested to the fact that many more were already up the trail, somewhere.  But, unsurprisingly, nobody was headed to Tenpeak or Kololo and we left them all behind as soon as we left the Foam Creek route for the character building traverse to the White River Glacier. 

An unforecasted rain squall was bearing down on us as we crested the moraine below the glacier and gazed out on a large lake that wasn't on our maps.  There was no way to cross the outlet (we had read) and the traverse around it looked tenuous at best with loose debris perched on steep slabs.  But the alternatives were even worse so we rock hopped and chossed our way around to the bare ice, barely making it to flat gravel as the heavens unleashed.  This is what we came for?  Camp "Grim" was christened as we soggily established camp where ice was just a few years before.

The weather cleared at dusk but the forecast for the next day was worse so we drowned our sorrows in whiskey and the Ron Burgundy podcast.  Did you know that your brain shrinks to 65% of its normal volume during deep sleep so cerebral spinal fluid can pump around and flush out toxins?  Ron didn't either.  Anyways, the next day dawned so-so as expected but we didn't have anything else to do so began the tedious and long slog around the Hive, over the shoulder of West Tenpeak, and around to the Standard route on Tenpeak.  While scenic, glacial recession in this area has made for rugged travel, sans snow.  Expect a full day return.

The regular route on Tenpeak is short, has a bit of fifth class, and is actually pretty decent.  Given the approach (White River isn't a lot better), nobody will be surprised that it only gets a party or so a year.  The register was placed in 1972 and appeared to have  scrap of paper with Fred's name signed to it.  This is probably the only register I've seen with that honor (if it is legit), as all others I've seen with him have been photocopies of the original entry.  After a long while admiring the view (the weather had cleared) and delaying the tedious descent/return to camp, we bid adieu and headed for Camp Grim.  On the way back we coined the acronymn "YOCO" to describe Tenpeak- as in a peak You Only Climb Once.  Still, I thought it was worth climbing....once.

Monday was clear and glorious as forecasted so we took our time climbing up to the col west of Kololo that would give us access to the what's left of the Whitechuck Glacier.  Dropping packs we went for a scenic ramble up to the summit of Kololo, a fantastic viewpoint of the surrounding area.  Nobody around for miles it seemed, but a short ways off we knew the masses were packing up and heading home.  By the time we crevasse hopped our way down the bare ice and joined the climber's path, we didn't run into anybody until some horsepackers on the Foam Creek path who were picking up USGS gear.  The hike out the NF Sauk was a lot quieter than on the way in, but enlivened by a few parties.  The most memorable of which had a member who had packed AT boots all the way to high camp because "they were the only boots that fit my crampons".  Wow! 

So, if the trails are going to be crowded, at least there's always the people watching.  Captions refer to the photo below .....

Hiking in on the NF Sauk:


Indian Head Peak:


Uh oh:


Camp at the toe of the White River Gl:





Honeycomb Gl. crusin':







West Tenpeak.  We didn't summit because we didn't want to break out the rope:


Snout of Honeycomb (L), Signing in on Tenpeak (R):






The magnificent desolation of the White River Gl.:



Treat your water people:



This is what we came here for!:


What's left of the Whitechuck Gl.:




Tenpeak is the dark tower:




Whitechuck crevasse hopping:



I've never seen a tarn like this, have you?:



The ultra classic Sloan:



I tend to forget what a nice valley the NF Sauk is:


Gear Notes:
half rope and light rack to 2" for Tenpeak. Ice axe and Al crampons. Helmet

Approach Notes:
Pick your poison. Long, rugged and scenic from NF Sauk or brushy and long from White River

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Stunning photos of mountain grandeur. Thank you for sharing. Our ice is disappearing. Rainier may be an iceless slag pile in my lifetime. Sobering.

This article from the Seattle Times yesterday shows some dramatic melting of the Bering Sea far more than I would have expected so soon. Bottom temps 12F  (!) higher than 9 years ago!

Edited by bargainhunter
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8 hours ago, Stefan said:

nice photo essay

Thanks @Stefan!  If you're the same Stefan I'm thinking you are, we put your annotated map to good use on this trip.  I'm amazed at all you got around to on your trip.

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WOW - things change.  I made it into this area the summer of 1981, first, 4th of July weekend when we skied everywhere in the area on perfect corn and once again in the fall when we approached from the Suiattle and up the Honeycomb. No skis this time but still plenty of snow and ice.  The glaciers looked huge and permanent - not so much I guess. Your photo of the Whitechuck looked like a whole different world than I remember. Saw no one until the return to Kennedy Hot Springs.  Thanks so much for posting this.

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