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[TR] Mt. Skokomish- Lake of the Angels 8/10/2005

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Climb: Mt. Skokomish-Lake of the Angels


Date of Climb: 8/10/2005


Trip Report:

Last week, I planned to head into Olympic National Park via the Putvin Trail, climb Mt. Skokomish, descend the headwall above Lake of the Angels, traverse over Mt. Hopper to First Divide and climb Mt. Steel. My visits to the Olys, though, never seem to go quite as planned.

First, after seeing Mt. Pershing from Hwy 101 on my way up from Portland, I could not resist making my second (failed) attempt on that mountain. I fought the slide alder and devil’s club via the Jefferson Creek route up to the alpine and climbed to the top of the Pershing ridge in two places, but failed to find passage to the summit before I decided to run (stumble and thrash) down to get out of that jungle before dark. I would have stayed and bivied had there been any water up there.

I spent a half-day nursing my bushwacking wounds and resting my feet at Hamma Hamma Campground before heading out for my long trip.

As it turned out, thick Olympic fog turned me back on the ridge above Hagen Lake Thursday afternoon, but the weather was perfect on Wednesday for my scramble up Mt. Skokomish.

I hiked in late Tuesday and camped on the ridge northwest of Lake of the Angels, with great views of Mt. Steel, Mt. Duckabush and Mt. Rainier. I followed the Skokomish north ridge from my camp and followed the Olympic climber’s guide’s advice to veer southeast, through some pleasant alpine terrain. I went too far in that direction and climbed one of the sub-summits visible from the lake, then had to descend and traverse to the right, where I arrived at the top of the snowfield mentioned in the guide, just below a saddle. I found fresh bear tracks at the top of the snowfield, and four mountain goats wandered over to pay me a visit. I descended a bit further from the saddle, then did my “traverse to the southwest."

The rock lived up to its poor reputation -- very friable and loose. Exposure on Class 3 rock that wouldn’t be all that unsettling on more solid ground made me a bit nervous. I topped out to see two higher points to the south. I had climbed the north summit. Downclimbing was pretty sketchy: loose rock on small ledges underfoot, crumbling handholds -- classic Oly climbing, I guess.

By this time, it was warm, and I was out of water so I descended to the beautiful tarn in the basin below what would turn out to be the south summit to quench my thirst. There’s a great view of Mt. Cruiser from rocks near the tarn.

I climbed out of the basin, nearly back to the saddle, and began a tedious, rising traverse over steep scree and meadow. With the tarn to my left below, I headed up Class 2-3 rock toward the last visible high point, hoping that would be the summit. After some minor exposure, I scrambled around behind the summit rocks to climb above some stunted trees to the top. I topped out, pleased to see no point higher. The views, especially of Mt. Cruiser and Mt. Stone, were awesome.

I spent my second night at the “stone arrow” saddle that overlooks Hagen Lake and has a great view of Skokomish. After a brief sunny period Thursday morning, the Olympic fog rolled in. I hiked the ridge above Hagen Lake, but the fog showed no sign of clearing so I decided the traverse would wait for a day with better visibility and headed out.

I'd say Mt. Skokomish is Class 3, on par with Stone in overall difficulty. It would be a better climb with snow, I think, but the trip is worthwhile any time for the great views.





Gear Notes:


Poles helpful in the loose crap

Edited by PVD

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Nice. I have fond memories of the Lake of the Angels. Back in my scouting days we composed a 75 miles hike by winding around and connecting various trails in the Olympics. Lake of the Angeles was one of our last stops, and we ate a concoction we called "Rockie Mountain Spotted Frog". I think it was some mix of ramen noodles, leek soup, and some other stuff we had left over. Immediately after eating it, over 75% of the troop was out in the bushes spraying out of both ends. This continued for the rest of the night. Good times.

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Nice TR. Sounds like a typical olympic adventure. You should really give Pershing another shot, its got a pretty sweet payoff.

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