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[TR] Cashmere Mountain - Standard Rt. - Variation 4/15/2007


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Trip: Cashmere Mountain - Standard Rt. - Variation


Date: 4/15/2007


Trip Report:

Facing the prospect of dismal weather locally, and lured by the promise of better hiking conditions to the east, Erick Johnson and I once again returned to the Leavenworth area. Cashmere had been on my list of desirable summer day hikes for some time, but I somehow never managed to get around to it. Johnson, who I suspect is secretly working on Washington's Highest 100, also coveted the peak, and we both relished the additional challenge imposed by the lingering snowpack.

We left the car around 8:30 AM, quickly booted up the still-gated road section to the trailhead, pressed on to Eight-Mile Lake and then bore right up scree and snow fields to gain access to the valley to the north. A couple hours' slog across fairly firm snow brought us to the head of the main valley and the crest of the summer route ridge. The ridge walk was wonderful, with endless views across the valley to the Enchantments.




Most of the approach ridge was like this: moderate to flat snowslopes on perfect snow. The interesting climbing doesn't actually start until you're on Cashmere itself.




Excellent ridge walking in an incredibly scenic area...




Looking across the valley, we gained a new perspective on some of the routes we'd done in years past: Argonaut and Sherpa Peaks, Johnson's Sherpa and Ice Cliff Glacier routes on Stuart, several climbs on Dragontail, Colchuck, Little Annapurna, etc...




A quarter mile out, we wondered what the North Face and upper summit ridge would look like...




After a brief pause for snacks, Johnson and I made our way across the North Face slopes, shopping around for a way up. We traversed to a point just short of the East Ridge and ascended a couple hundred feet of gorgoeously consolidated snow which ran to about 50 degrees and which probably should have been protected owing to the horrible runout, but we'd brought only axes and crampons. Johnson, of course, fairly jogged up the thing, while I required and extra 20 minutes of careful step-kicking up the steepening and ocassionally thin snowpack just below the summit ridge.




The summit itself was a marvelous jumble of snow-dusted blocks, and We took turns scrambling to the cramped but spectacularly airy perch.




Traversing back along the North Face in the late afternoon sunshine...




To our astonishment, we discovered that all of the gullies on the south side of this peak are quite moderate. We hopped into one of them and lost a quick 500 feet with a glissade and a short traverse around the peak's southern flanks. We had no intention of retracing our longish approach route, favoring instead an exploratory hike-out via the nearest valley, which we hoped would take us to the original approach trail at a point fairly close to the road. Exactly two hours and one world-class bushwack later, we emerged slightly worse for wear at the exact spot we'd envisioned. At this point, a mile or so of dry trail and forty minutes' trudge down the gated road in the fading light of a fine Spring evening were all that stood between us and a stomach full of 76 station junk food--another perfect day in the hills.




Gear Notes:

Bring legs and lungs for this one, along with a stick and 'pons. Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen...I brought none, and as a consequence was forced to trudge along in my "sun suit:" hooded shell, gloves, pants, etc.


Approach Notes:

Road still gated due to largish washout. Trail to Eight-Mile Lake filled with punchy, miserable snow--catch it after a good freeze, though, and you're good.

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I don't know how we managed it, but we escaped without a single tick. Last weekend, after hiking in the same valley, two friends and I collected at least a dozen "passengers" between us. I don't know anything about the life cycle of the tick, but last weekend must have been special for them in some way...

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