Here's where you peruse WACer trip reports and post your own for everyone to see. Remember: Never let the truth interfere with a good story!
|GuideBook||Beckey, Vol. II|
|Weather||Overcast to Sunny|
|TrailConditions||Ok to poor|
|Mailed to WacList|| |
Paul Gauatelli, Amy Benton and myself spent a relaxing weekend camped at Silver Lake and climbed Silver Tip Peak along the way. Pat Ragar and Jeff Grogan joined us for the day and walked into camp on Saturday before turning back in the afternoon.|
Silver Tip peak is located SW of the old mining townsite of Monte Cristo, where the Silver Tip trailhead starts. This rotten and poorly maintained trail rises for 1.8 miles and must be shared with snow melt and streams descending from Poodle Dog Pass above. A new trail is currently under construction but not yet available. Until then, be ready for some high steppin' on rocks and fallen tree trunks. But at least it's only 1.8 miles.
The trail is mostly snow free sans occasioanl patches, which are becoming thin. This provides an opportunity for one to punch through and examine the mud and muck underneath; Paul, Amy, and I siezed upon that opportunity numerous times. Shortly before Poodle Dog Pass and the end of the trail, spring snow pack completely obscures the trail but 1) a well beaten path of footprints shows the way and 2) you can see the pass and where you ought to be. From Poodle Dog Pass a very short walk takes you to Silver Lake, which Beckey describes as a "gem hidden in a glacial cirque beneath Silver Tip Peak" and I would agree. It's a beautiful area. The area around the lake is still snow covered as is the lake, though both are becoming thin; this took a couple of fisherman we ran into by suprise. Guess they didn't know early June at 4000+ feet in the Cascades is still ice fishing season. We made camp on dirt next to a tree where the snow had already melted and proceeded to bask in the afternoon sun. The camp spot looked out onto Silver Lake and Silver Tip Peak; the view could have made for an REI catalog cover photo. Also, while the surrounding peaks are not very tall, most just over 6000 feet, the reflief from the valley floors are great, 3000 to 4000 feet, giving it a very rugged alpine feel. This is especially true when looking over at Williams Peaks from Poodle Dog Pass.
I should note that our original destination was Columbia Peak. However, with just enough snow coverage to obscure the trail to Twin Lakes but to little to make for easy cross country travel (which we did attempt at first), the choice was easy. Hmmm...bash our way through brush, slide alder, and thin snow OR sit by this lake and read my book? Columbia peak is a good objective but should be put off for probably another month until the trail is in view; the exception is if you are in training for a Picket's trip, in which case have at it!
To ascend Silver Tip, we took the easy ridge rising from the left when viewing the peak from Poddle Dog Pass. The ridge continues to rise until it meets with the summit ridge. From here traverse right on moderate to steepish snow below the exposed rock and towards the summit. Scrambling along the rock is not recommended: the exposure off the other side is long and the rock is loose. How far one traverses before hooking back up with the summit ridge is probably going to be conditions dependent. We traversed only far enough to bypass the rock before ascending a short chute (a bit steeper snow here than than in the traverse) and continuing towards the summit block.
From the summit block, scramble 3rd class rock ledges and ramps up and to the left. Find short 4th class dihedral (8 feet) and climb it. From here the exposure is great and falling holds dire consequences if unroped, which I was. The top is about 6 feet above and a couple of easy moves away. The holds are good but I contemplated whether I would be able to reverse the moves when coming down. I decided I could and went to the top. The only tricky move on the descend is the first one from the top and is the most exposed. To assist, I untied a piece of rope left around a tree stump as a rap sling tied a couple of of overhand knots in the rope; these were jammed into a crack at the top. After paritally lowering myself (good holds available) I could hold onto the rope while lowering myself a bit further to reach stable ground. The rope is never fully weighted and even then just briefly. From here the downclimbing is easier and not exposed.
Beckey's guides says to rap from the top and that is a good recommendation; a half rope will suffice but bring a very long piece of webbing as the tree rap anchors are set back a bit from the edge. With a full rope you can rap all the way to the bottom.
The time from camp (Silver Lake) to the summit is a couple of hours. It makes for a short summit day and a short second day overall. Because of this, one can choose to leave camp later than usual and allow the snow to soften up a bit. This makes the traverse of the snowfield easier and doesn't compromise coming out late. Finally, a climb for those who like to sleep later! We left camp around 8am and were back at 1pm.
This is a great trip for this time of the season. The crummy trail and snow coverage keeps most people out of the area. Go there now while the crowds are not.
Note: while the trail to the lake is only 1.8 miles, there is the additional 4 miles along a closed road to Monte Cistro. One can bike this distance and leave the bikes at the trail head. Bike racks available for your use.