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KaskadskyjKozak

[TR] Cowlitz Chimney - Standard 08/01/2020

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Posted (edited)

Trip: Cowltiz Chimney - Standard

Trip Date: 08/01/2020

Trip Report:

 

Seems like it's been nothing but a summer of Smootin'.  Save a solo trip in the Teanaway, I've strung together a contiguous streak of getting me lots of Smooty (and following in the footsteps of the Choss Dawg Millionaires).

 

This past weekend I set my sights on Cowlitz Chimney.  I attempted this scramble about 5 years ago on a weekend when weather looked "meh" pretty much everywhere that I looked except for MRNP.  Unfortunately, despite blue bird skies from the trailhead we hit fog between Summerland and Panhandle Gap - fog that never let up.  So, we settled for finding our way up Banshee and Middle Cowlitz Chimney on that trip.

While looking for recent beta I saw a comment that the Summerland TH parking lot was filling up by 6:30 am.  So, we timed it to arrive just shy of that time.  Despite that plan we arrived to a full lot and parked on the side of the road right across from the lot - the second car to do so.  Within 10 min another 5 cars or more followed suit.  The mountains are getting way too crowded!

We made good time up to Summerland and I made use of the toilet.  There was a ranger there with a shot gun as a last resort to ward off a bear family unit who is apparently frequenting the area.  We continued on towards Panhandle Gap and decided to pop over the col just shy of the proper trail.  I don't think we saved time doing that, but whatever.  Next we crossed glorious meadows with flowers in full bloom and only a few snow patches.  Soon we were on the summit of Banshee Peak with views of our objective.

Views from Summerland:

IMG_6171.thumb.JPG.2581d0dda464cec2b5368c432302b0d2.JPG

Views en route to Banshee Peak:

IMG_6177.thumb.JPG.844eac49a32b4da4d26df47da0c04b34.JPG

The objective:

IMG_6186.thumb.JPG.e03be8e912cb63d52a213c8026d3d951.JPG

By this time some fog appeared in surrounding meadows and some clouds looked like rain. WTF?  We began dropping into the basin below Main Cowlitz.   Right about when we got to our low point, fog came in.  Total whiteout.  We launched our peakbagger app and downloaded a track just in case we needed it.  Fortunately as we completed our traverse and were roughly below the "solitary tree" the fog blew out and we were golden.

We followed this guy's excellent route description:  http://ericsbasecamp.net/trips/CowlitzChimney/CowlitzChimney.htm.  The trip is 18 years old and evinces the utility of long-lived trip reports.  His came up in the first page of Google hits.   We found no problem finding the key landmarks:  the solitary tree, the fence of trees, the exposed traverse, and the class 4 slot.  For the latter two we had brought a rope.  I protected the traverse with two cams and plugged a third before topping out on the slot.  At the rap station we left our rope and pro and scrambled up.  There was scree, there were loose holds.  It was a Smoot.  We picked the obvious gully near the top which felt like class 4.  Definitely not a good place to fall.

Yep, that's a solitary tree.  Well, sort of:

IMG_6192.thumb.JPG.0fce4bf257c7dde7ebc3cb3d33670f02.JPG

Summit views were great!  Another Smoot in the books: #83

IMG_6200.thumb.JPG.ec3808b1145512020860cdb1ff183dcd.JPGIMG_6202.thumb.JPG.21d20bd392621a52f3be1b148d73c752.JPG

On the descent we retraced our steps, did a rappel to avoid downclimbing the slot and  traverse (60 m rope barely reached), and hiked out.  It was super hot by then and we felt the effects of sun.  So we slowed down and enjoyed the way out, stopping for one long water break before the final trail back to Panhandle Gap.

On rappel:

IMG_6204.thumb.JPG.7b44c6981a2efc9aeed1de94c046a6ea.JPG

Rainier as majestic as ever:

IMG_6213.thumb.JPG.014734c03cc75132a2d9b7be9291efef.JPG

Gear Notes:
60m rope, helmet, X4s .3 and .4, C4 .5

Approach Notes:
Mostly snow free. Wildflowers in full force.

Edited by KaskadskyjKozak
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You're on the other side of this, aren't you? Probably isn't any easier to approach via Owyhigh Lakes given the work to get around to the start. Out and about to less popular destinations sure seems like a good call this year! Thanks for the report and swell pictures.    <Edit> Oh never mind, that's Governor's Ridge, Cowlitz Chimneys are behind me! That's from the only time I've been up in that area about 5 years ago.

5f3fd9b5d1ae6_CowlitzChimneys.thumb.jpg.bc57eac28a6d98a3df2fd502c567a394.jpg

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On 8/21/2020 at 7:27 AM, Off_White said:

You're on the other side of this, aren't you? Probably isn't any easier to approach via Owyhigh Lakes given the work to get around to the start. Out and about to less popular destinations sure seems like a good call this year! Thanks for the report and swell pictures.    <Edit> Oh never mind, that's Governor's Ridge, Cowlitz Chimneys are behind me! That's from the only time I've been up in that area about 5 years ago.

5f3fd9b5d1ae6_CowlitzChimneys.thumb.jpg.bc57eac28a6d98a3df2fd502c567a394.jpg

Yeah we did a hike this way to Tamanos Mountain - just above and right of the pic above.  From there we actually were admiring Cowlitz Chimney and decided we'd try for it some day.  I think it can be approached from Owyhigh but is best with snow/in Spring.

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