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[TR] Axis Peak - South Gully 02/19/2022


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Trip: Axis Peak - South Gully

Trip Date: 02/19/2022

Trip Report:

@Albuquerque Fred and I were at it again. We really felt the need to climb Axis Peak this time, it just calls to you from every vantage... note the sarcasm. I was foolish enough to say "I'm up for anything". Fred thinks is cool to climb lists, I don't; but then I'm not opposed to it on principle either. So off we went on Friday night to TH bivy on Icicle Creek Road at the gated and snowed in 8-Mile road. Fortunately, Eminem was not present. 

We were up early but it was stupid warm in the morning (tomorrow would bring a fast moving cold front). We knew we had to get out early as a big storm was moving in and we didn't want to be in the mountains, plus we still had the drive back west over the pass. 

The road went easy but the Bellevue crowd had been slacking as the trail was super not packed out (I assume it is Instagram that causes the normal luge chute and not Leavenworth locals, correct me if I'm wrong, I don't travel here often). We skinned ice crust with occasional post holes and snowshoe crampon scratches to within 1/4 mile of Lake Stuart, then ascended the fan up the gully on the south side of Axis peak. I had a bad experience the previous weekend with ice crust skiing so I was adamant that skis were only for that approach today and we left them at the fan at around 5300'. It was super icy here with about half a dusting of snow from throughout the morning.

The gully was a dream, perfect secure cramponing on moderate slopes with some dirt and moss to remind you that you're in the cascades. The gully actually served to focus the sun and block the wind as well so it was amazingly pleasant. The weather called for intense ridgecrest winds. We tagged the summit, signed in, and bailed down a couple hundred feet out of the gale to eat lunch. 

The descent was amazing, but firm enough the I was still glad we ditched the skis. I got to try out my new skis on frozen avy debris, and sun crust, plus dirty, thin forest on the way out, so that's a plus. We only skied down to 4660' then skinned again, all the way to the road. At least I did, Fred insisted on shuffling in walk mode with no skins despite it obviously being slower and sketchier. Oh well, at least I was proven right. 




Oh yeah, in case you are not aware, Axis Peak is the next ridge north of Stuart.


Before you ask... North side of Dragontail.



Approach skinning:






Not the best coverage out there these days:



Up the gully, it's better than it looks:



There is no summit photo that doesn't look cheezy is there?


Gear Notes:
Axe, crampons, helmet, skis for the approach.

Approach Notes:
Road was easy, trail was terrible.
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