Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
klenke

A BWR for an Obscure Peak

Recommended Posts

BWR for an Obscure Peak -- Sept. 21, 2003

 

OK, boys and girls and naked squirrels, let's play Name That Obscure Peak...

(Stefan can't play because he is employed by Ben-There-Done-That, Inc.)

THE ANSWER WILL BE PROVIDED ON WEDNESDAY IF NO ONE HAS GUESSED IT BY THEN.

 

BWR stands for "Bushwhack Report", by the way.

 

Because I would be in the SR-20 area with a non-climber friend to do the Skagit Boat Tour that morning, I needed something easy to do in the afternoon that could be done before dark. I had some other peaks in mind but this one won out because it supposedly would be a straightforward road and trail ascent with outstanding views at the top.

 

The peak is entirely in the Stillaguamish River drainage except for its namesake creek, which drains into another river. It is less than 5,100 ft in elevation and has a prominence of just about 1,650 ft. (I know, I know, this paltry elevation is already enough to bore most of you hardcore punks out of continuing on with the clues.) And yet, despite its moderate height, the summit massif of the long, thin ridge that makes up this peak is actually quite precipitous--especially on its West Face (note that I never really saw the east side of the summit massif). If it weren't for the mossiness of the crags, it could almost offer an excellent four or five pitch rock climb. The peak is also mentioned in green Beckey and 100 Hikes in the Glacier Peak Area. In the latter, the author complained of broken promises on the part of the Forest Disservice maintaining the trail up to the summit. Four miles had reduced to two miles and two miles had reduced to even less than that ATP.

 

There is much logging evidence in the valleys surrounding the peak but the peak itself is protected by the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Fortunately, it appears that the logging operations have ceased in the proximity of the peak. The approach road to the peak has even been back-burmed every 100 yards or so to keep vehicles out. Back-burming is my term for the use of a backhoe to create a motte-and-bailey type of barrier across a road. The frequency of the back-burms is such that even using a mountain bike on the old logging road would be frought with frowning. The burms are just too numerous to make for consistent rolling travel. Note: some of the barriers across the roads are not back-burms but washouts.

 

The trailhead "starts" across the valley from the peak at roughly 3,400 ft at the first back-burm in the road (this "trailhead" is about one mile WNW of the summit). To get to the peak it is necessary to travel the burmed road in a horseshoe to get over to the peak's side of the valley. From there, well, let me go into the BWR part of the post (read on if you care; if you don't care, well, go fly a kite):

 

Bushwhack Report:

At 2:30PM, my non-climber friend and I circled around the head of the valley rather easily. I thought about leaving the road when right under the peak but it looked formidably brushy up through the clearcuts just to get to the obvious upper talus basin. Instead, we continued on up the road as it began leading northward away from the peak. Moreover, the road kept getting more and more overgrown with alder with each passing yard. There were two or three spur roads that led back to the peak but they were also getting overgrown. Finally, I had had enough of the departure from the vicinity of the peak and took a spur back toward it. This spur had been back-dumped to take the flatness out of it (such as I've seen on the south side of Mt. Index). Sidehill road travel got us up to within a few hundred yards of the ridge crest but we were still in clearcut city. We would have to hoof it up the clear cut to the crest. However, my non-climber friend was too out of shape to make the crest so went back down again. I told my friend I'd carry on and meet up again at the car (I may even be first down if I'm quick). It was 4:15PM. If I had been solo, it would have been 3:30PM to here probably.

 

Now, there's suppose to be a trail on the crest but there wasn't one in the logged out area except for faint hints at what might have once been. The hints were in no way an improvement over the BW2 conditions along the crest (lots of blowdowns, etc.). The other (east) side of the crest was a stark cliff that almost overhung in places. I yelled down to my friend to say there was no trail whatsoever on the ridge line. This was a white lie, for I did finally pick up the trail once I got into the forest (the only unlogged stretch of slope on the west side of this ridge). The trail was actually easy to follow for about 400 yards. I came upon an ancient, half-gone metal sign that said something to the effect of "Entering Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, ____ Point, 1 mile." Well, that seemed like good news. There was even some tagging around this sign. I followed the tagging downhill slightly but promptly lost the trail. I got out my map and looked to see what elevation I should contour at to maintain proximity to the trail (which is marked on the USGS map). The elevation is 4,600 ft but I was compelled to steadily climb up to 4,700 ft because of a damp duff. When I finally got to a clearing immediately northeast of the summit I could see I was 100 feet too high and so had to gingerly downscoot a steep, moist fern and ankle brush meadow to what looked like a bench cutting across just above the trees. This turned out to be the succumbing trail--a trail so overgrown that it starts to look like something natural, like a bench.

 

I was able to then take the trail all the way to the summit. From the bench, the trail goes around a small timbered corner, crosses a boulder field for about 50 yards, and then heads very steeply up the only vegetated cut in the rocky ridge. However, the trail is being grown upon by evergreens to the point that you constantly have to step around them on the downhill side to get past (not the funnest procedure in damp conditions). I lost the trail here and had to scrounge my way up the steep, damp cut with only weak-rooted weeds for my green belays. Shortly thereafter I relocated the trail (still being grown upon) and shortly thereafter I had made the summit (the trail finishes on the east side of the crest). It had taken me 70 minutes to go that 1.25 miles from where I left my friend.

 

The summit used to have a lookout on it but it has long since disappeared (I think it was removed in the 60's). There was a cairn but no register on the very flat summit, whose surface area was about 40 ft x 40 ft. A "Michael Hall" had left his Boeing business card in a plastic sleeve. I ripped a corner off my map and left my name on it in the plastic sleeve. From the summit I yelled as loud as I could down to my partner, who I could not see in the deep valley shadows, to say I would be about an hour to get down. An hour was about right. It took me 65 minutes.

 

From the summit at 5:40PM, I backtracked the trail to its boulderfield crossing then descended the field directly to its bottom--a mossy meadow with barely a creek for its outlet. This was the upper talus basin mentioned four paragraphs back. From the summit I had been able to see where I should go, so I was in no real danger of getting lost or swallowed up by BW5. From the outlet stream of the meadow, I simply plunged into the small pines and brush that you would expect, sans any control policy, to first take hold on a clear cut slope. It was dense going but, because I was going downhill through it, I was able to keep up a moderately fast pace. There were even some blueberry treats to enjoy. It would have been BW4 on the way up but was only BW3 for the descent. It seemed like it took a long time but it really didn't. Pretty soon I found myself at an old logging road. I would have to cut downhill to get to the main one we had walked up earlier. As I bushhacked BW2 down to the lower road I had to step through swathes of that long, head-high weed that disperses cottony seeds everywhere at this time of year. (I'll have to find out what this weed is called.) One touch of these stems and the cottony seeds (the same seeds you see floating about like eider down in the wind) jettison out into a floating miasma that one cannot help but walk head-first right in to. The damn seeds go up your nose, get in your eyes, and adhere to sweaty skin. Lame and tickly. An interesting experience, though one I don't want to experience again.

 

Once back to the road, I jogged it back to the car. My friend had assumed I would be two hours so was pleasantly surprised to see me jog up at 6:45PM. We took a different road back to civilization. The unpaved roads in this area are fantastic--hardly any potholes--making the night drive fun. We even saw a large owl fly to its perch. Well, owl about that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the summit to the car in 1 hour. Impressive!

 

First syllable has something to do with a fish.

Second syllable sounds something like an appendage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For your information.....on a different peak.

 

Big Gee also is less than 5100 feet but has over 3100 feet of prominence and is also in the same drainage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gee, Gee Point has got a lot of prominence hasn't it? I see the "saddle" in question. And so, Round Mountain's prominence, taken from the saddle at Darrington, must be about 4,800 ft. Now that's impressive!

 

I remember Big Deer Peak (4,311 ft) being the most impressive peak out west. Despite its low altitude, it's still pretty rocky on the entire SW-to-SE side and has a prominent, alpine summit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

curse you prominence people. even bivouac.com has prominence on the brain these days. what a useless statistic. madgo_ron.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dru said:

curse you prominence people. even bivouac.com has prominence on the brain these days. what a useless statistic. madgo_ron.gif

 

I don't think its useless statistic. One of the reasons why I like to climb prominent peaks is for the views when you are on top. Generally speaking, the more the prominence the more the views......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prominence is relative. Robson is hugely prominent from most locations to the south but not so prominent when rising above Resplendant etc to the north.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are many definitions and reasons as to why a peak may or may not be worthy of distinction.

To list several:

1. summit elevation

2. overall prominence

3. overall projection (projection being explained here)

4. cragginess/cliffiness

5. views

6. aesthetics

7. obscurity

8. historical perspectives

9. technical climbing and/or routefinding requirements

10. classic routes that might be on it

11. its name alone (for instance, I have an odd goal to climb every Red Mountain in Washington)

12. other notables such as it being an old or current lookout site

 

Each of these has got its followers. I place none over the other for the general hiker/climber. I personally like things about all of the above. That is, I'll climb a peak for whatever reason compelled me to climb it.

 

Others may only do things on the above list they like and eschew others. The beauty of being an outdoor enthusiast is that you can do it for a myriad of reasons. I get pleasure out of doing different types of climbs. I get a lot of satisfaction out of having climbed an obscure peak just as much as I'm glad to tick off a peak everyone on a certain family's tree has climbed up.

 

BTW, Dru, elevation itself is relative. Everything is relative. Also, regarding Robson, it sounds like you're talking more about 'projection' in your last post, not prominence. The peak which most likely holds Robson's prominence is Waddington, though it could also be a peak in Wyoming or something up by Mt. St. Elias. To be sure, I'd have to consult a big map for a while (no thank you) and/or do some web research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the fact that you know the difference between projection and prominence itself scares me, and I'm a geographer. it gets REAL theoretical when you start talking about next higher peaks in totally different ranges hundreds of km away.... talk about meaningless statistics. it might have some relevance when you are talking about a tightly grouped range likethe Twin sisters or something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why would it be scary that someone would know the difference between prominence and projection or know what projection is at all for that matter? Do you think only "smart" geographers such as yourself should know such arcane orographical aspects? I take an active interest in orography and have known about prominence for a long time. I only came into knowing about projection about two years ago when someone clued me into the previous website link.

 

I would agree with you that projection is theoretical. I don't know that I would say it is REAL theoretical, though. The only thing making it theoretical is the choice of datum, but once the datum is set, it's no longer theoretical. It's fact.

 

And then to prominence: I hope you weren't saying that prominence is theoretical because it is not. It may be imprecise within the error bounds of a 7.5" map (+/-39 ft due to the minimum contour interval), but it is truth otherwise. That is to say, every peak on a land mass (be it continent, sub-continent, or island) with the exception of the highest of them all or some goofy anomalies on that land mass (such as, perhaps, peaks in the Great Basin of Nevada, which has no outlet to the sea), has some peak "hold" its prominence by virtue of the common divide between them (thank god water doesn't flow uphill). But you know this. What is cool about prominence and the associated divide previously mentioned is that it gives you a good sense of watersheds and drainages and where the dividing line is between them (example). Also, see here, here, and here. As the old saying/quote goes, "For those that like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like."

 

Obviously, prominence is fairly meaningless for peaks that are 1,000's of miles away from each other (or not within each other's visual range). I agree there. But prominence is not really meaningless for most of the peaks out there that are visually close to each other. This prominence is what gives a peak a stand-alone stature. Sometimes, it's what gives it its individual identity. Sahale Peak has no prominence next to Boston Peak, yet it is pretty high nonetheless.

 

All the foregoing is meaningless if you're not into the numbers game, which is a lot of people out there. Most people don't care how high this peak or that peak is. Example: the guy giving the Skagit boat tour on Sunday said Colonial Peak is about 6,000 ft. Obviously (to me), this is not right at all. It is 7,771 ft to be exact. Is 6,000 ft close enough to 7,771 ft such that he need not be corrected of his errant information? In this case, his error I did not mention to him because 95% of the people he provides the info to won't care otherwise (they not being climbers). And yet, an error is an error is an error.

 

Unfortunately, I could not find what peak holds Robson's prominence. It's not a big deal but it would be trivial to know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Obviously, prominence is fairly meaningless for peaks that are 1,000's of miles away from each other (or not within each other's visual range). I agree there.

 

exactly... trying to claim prominence between waddington and robson, you would have to figure out the elevation of some hydrographic divide between the fraser river and homathko river, somewhere near redstone reserve.... a junction point where, nonetheless, you would either have to go DOWNHILL into the Fraser Basin, or take a detour of thousands of kilometers along a divide, to get to Robson from. anyways like you pointed out, the next highest point after robson is probably somewhere in the USA, Colorado or something.... and perhaps the two drainages are not even contiguous. i don't even want to know what you do then. please don't tell me. or calculate the prominence difference between everest and Olympus Mons. Geek_em8.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Based on that map I linked to in my last post, Robson's prominence is probably held by either the Grand Teton or Gannett Peak in Wyoming since both of these are over 13,000 ft and the first such peaks higher than Robson as you travel southward.

 

And that leads me to the following interesting thing about prominence that I did not mention before: it is a pretty good indicator of just how far one has to travel to find a peak higher than the one in question. In the Robson example, it is interesting to see just how far away the next-higher peak is. And yet, prominence is a strange thing. It is conceivable that two high peaks can be right next to each other on opposite sides of a deep valley but the higher of these could possibly not hold the prominence of the other (there being a third peak someplace else doing this).

 

Oh, and the prominence between Everest and Olympus Mons changes all the time. Right now, it's about as small as it's been in 65,000 years or something like that. Geek_em8.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

but since space is curved, did you consider that there is actually a "hill" between olympus mons and everest that is higher than either of them?? and no way to go around that "hill"??? shocked.gifGeek_em8.gif

 

i just spent 2 hours trying to measure all the passes on the Fraser watershed divide between Robson and Wadd. madgo_ron.gif

 

as to your mystery peak frown.gif I couldnt figure it out without using my Beckey guide. and we all know Beckey guides are aid grin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dru said:i just spent 2 hours trying to measure all the passes on the Fraser watershed divide between Robson and Wadd. madgo_ron.gif
For someone who thinks prominence is meaningless, that sure is a lot of time spent trying to figure out one peak's prominence.

 

Mystery Peak answer will be provided tomorrow morning, if anyone still cares by then. Don't worry, you've never heard of it...but it is in green Beckey. grin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
klenke said:

.

 

Mystery Peak answer will be provided tomorrow morning, if anyone still cares by then. Don't worry, you've never heard of it...but it is in green Beckey. grin.gif

 

From all the guesses so far I know we'll all be on the edges of our seats! wave.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I bushhacked BW2 down to the lower road I had to step through swathes of that long, head-high weed that disperses cottony seeds everywhere at this time of year. (I'll have to find out what this weed is called.) One touch of these stems and the cottony seeds (the same seeds you see floating about like eider down in the wind) jettison out into a floating miasma that one cannot help but walk head-first right in to. The damn seeds go up your nose, get in your eyes, and adhere to sweaty skin. Lame and tickly. An interesting experience, though one I don't want to experience again.

 

its called fireweed and the seeds are even worse when dewy or wet from rain cause they stick to you like glue and you get wave.gif the tarred and feathered look.

 

fireweed.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[chestbeating]i didn't have to look it up [/chestbeating] rolleyes.gif

 

makes good honey. laugh.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×