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[TR] North Gardener & Gardener Mountain - Wolf Creek Trail Approach 05/29/2021

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Trip: North Gardener & Gardener Mountain - Wolf Creek Trail Approach

Trip Date: 05/29/2021

Trip Report:


Climbed North Gardener (8956') & Gardener (8898') Mountains outside Winthrop, Wolf Creek  Approach. 


The weather was looking perfect on a long holiday weekend, time for another east side climb.  Texted DanO to see if he wanted to go, he was game.  We headed out Friday night, caught some Zs at the Trailhead and headed out early Saturday morning. 

We planned for 3 days for extra time if needed or wanted.  Wolf Creek trail to Gardener Meadows was nice, some blow downs to clear. A few snow patches on the trail, the meadow up to about 7000’ is snow free.  We decided to camp above the meadows about 500’ vertical.   We had the hillside to ourselves, the meadow had many groups camping.  We arrived early but not early enough to bag the summits and get back before dark, so we got plenty of sleep to prepare for Sunday. 

Sunday.  DanO decided to stay at camp and maybe try for Gardener later.  I headed out for Gardener at 5 am.  The snow was very firm and somewhat icy in the early am.  I decided not to bring crampons and was regretting that decision for about an hour.  I slowly made progress up to the rock above the snow.  Probably not the standard route but it got me off the icy snow.  The rock was a mix of 2nd and 3rd class with lots of loose rock.  Made it to the summit of Gardener before 8 am.  There was a peak right next to Gardener that looked to be the same height or possibly higher, so I climbed that too just to be safe.  Turns out the other more interesting looking peak was 40’ lower than Gardener, with 3rd class loose rock.  Next I headed for the ridge between Gardner and North Gardener.  I stayed high on the ridge and was met with loose Class 3 with some decent ledges to get around the vertical rock sections.  Took some navigation to find the ledges but they are there.  The connecting ridge was the most technically difficult part of the climb.  I summited North Gardener around noon.  Beautiful views and perfect weather.  Made it back to camp around 2pm.  We packed up and headed down the trail a ways to camp to make Monday's trip shorter.  Monday was uneventful, 4 hours out to the car. 

Snow started at around 7000’.  Last water was around snow level.  The ridges and peaks are mostly snow free depending on your route.  The bowl coming back down  from North Gardener was 75% snow.  The snow was perfect for plunge stepping on the way back.   Lots of wildlife around the area.  We saw two bears, a dozen or so deer and a porcupine over the trip. 

Overall this is a very nice early season climb with great views.  The snow made the climb much more interesting than anticipated.  Be ready for many other climbers on route, it is a very popular area.     

Some Tips and Notes:

1.       This is a popular area so plan accordingly. 

2.       Snow starts at 7000’

3.       The last running water was around 7000’

4.       The ridges and the summits are mostly snow free         

5.       Crampons, Ice Axe and Helmet would be a good idea to bring along


Travel Time for reference:

Saturday:  Car to Camp (6240’) 7.5 hours. 

Sunday:  Camp to Summits to 2nd Camp 12 hours

Monday:  2nd Camp to Car 4 hours


Abernathy Peak on the way to camp.


Gardener Mountain Summit.


Mystery summit off the side of Gardener.  40' lower than Gardener but much more fun to climb.


North Gardener from Gardener.


Connecting ridge rock.


Extra spicy section along the ridge traverse.


Views where better than a poke in the eye with a stick. 


Snow bowl coming down from North Gardener on the way back to camp.


DanO trying out his new porcupine mating call, the porcupine was unimpressed.

Gear Notes:
Gear used:   Whippet & Trekking Pole.  Didn’t bring crampons or a helmet but would have used both if available.

Approach Notes:
Wolf Creek Trail Approach. About 10-11 miles to Gardener Meadows.

Edited by Kuato
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