“Mr H meets Crosby””
Crosby Mt (5540', p560')
Money Creek and south gulley
April 27, 2013
Weather: High clouds, to drizzle to heavily snowing, temps 40s?
(Note –the sunny slope is false advertising…)
What a mix of weather. Weather forecasters had as wet, wet and wet. Time to get online and research. Looking at the simulations a front was coming in from the north. The further south the long it would be drier through the day. A group heading to the Teanaway sounded inviting. Where I wanted to go looked to be in for high winds (gusts to 45) –and I was feeling lazy. Maybe something closer to home. No positive results on queries for other interested. That was okay, solo trips are nice. I had some ideas and would get up and figure it out…
Of my seven options, one was a miss a few years ago due to hot sun and sloppy snow. Matt has a trip report posted of a favorable route for a short day (“Not Liberty 5520”). Good thing since I woke late. I jotted down a few notes, made a few sandwiches and headed to Skykomish (area). The weather was looking decent with just overcast. Leaving Goldbar, I’d decided to give Crosby a go. Should be less than seven hours and forecast was I could summit before it got wet. Well, that was my thought at the moment.
Solo up Money Creek
A few text messages to let others know my whereabouts. Driving up the highway snow coverage was not to be seen. How high before I’d hit snow? Before the tunnel left the highway, across the bridge, over the railroad tracks, a right on Miller River Road and another on Money Creek road (8:37a). How far would the road be clear? When we did Bing (TR, photos), we stopped at the bridge over Money Creek. From there it’s about five miles to the hike start. Last time driving the road was for Lennox (TR, photos), and the road was washed out.
I hope I could get to at least there. A few miles and there was plowed snow on the side of the road. Then a “Traffic Revision” sign… That was it, end of the plowed road (8:44a, 2.4m from bridge over Money Creek).
End of the plowed Road, 2.4 miles from the bridge
It’s not the end of the plowing that surprised me, it’s that the road is even plowed. Why the effort on Money creek road maintenance and why with so many other road left abandoned, torn up or just literally washing away? Car parked, I decided to leave the skis and do this as a snowshoe. The road was covered in snow, but so dirty my bases of skins would not be happy with me.
9:00am, (c1633’) the snow started out about a foot thick on the road and non-existent elsewhere. The road is just a snow magnet. Soon a giant boulder with traffic cones and barricade, then the creek with a new crossing (was washed out before) (0.5m, c1972’).
I was sinking about 6-8+ inches and travel was noticeably slow. A few spots of non-snow felt like a turbo boost. After three quarters of a mile I lightened my pack and donned snowshoes. From here on the road was snow 18+ inches deep.
Good thing they mark this boulder, I might have missed seeing it 2.3+ miles each way of road with soft snow –doesn’t get much more fun (???)
Money creek itself is a beautiful creek. Wide as I pass the gap to head to Lennox, then narrowing again. Hard to figure what is a creek and what is a river in the mountains. It was deep and rapid enough that I’d not want to cross it. Ah, how to keep the mind from going bonkers walking up a road? I cutoff at the mostly snow covered creek to avoid the long switchback (9:53a, 1.9m, c2240’). Regained the road and in a few hundred feet left it again on the snow covered creek opening.
Money Creek a few nice waterfalls drop to the creek
Go figure! After walking for an hour and a half it would start to drizzle. Wait! Not yet, too early, the weather change is supposed to wait til 1pm. Now what? I was kinda’ thinking of not hiking in the rain. But, I hate road walks, and turning around without some good hiking fix wasn’t appealing.
Leaving the road at the first creek after the second switchback Mr. H’s favorite hitchhiking spot
Still in my thin shirt I kept going upward leaving the road at the next creek -as the drizzle came down (10:21a, 2.3m, c2500’). A short distance from the road an abandoned overgrown road. I crossed to east –there is a log to cross on if needed when the snow melts. I followed the creek bed less than 100’ then veered into woods. Snowshoes re-stashed in the pack, I started direct up through the woods. No underbrush to tease/taunt me, just a very steep, moss and needle covered floor. As I ascended the trees provided a canopy. I stayed drier with a little drizzle on the outside of my shirt than I boiling in a rain coat. This would have been a classic for an umbrella. Well, not bad at all, so save the umbrella the punishment. It was warm even as I started kick-stepping up snow. The zigs and zags of route finding over logs and around co-joined wells. Now leftish to avoid cliff areas. A snack and water break under a giant boulder that would be a good shelter if needed. My route was a little different from the description I had written down. I stayed creek right were the previous group had been left of creek then crossing at c3200.
Dry and bare in the woods Pokka Dot bark
Now onto snow and kick stepping Tree rings and old wood
The route up reminded me of many other trips. The protection from the wetness coming down gave me pause to take time to stop often and admire many of the finer details that seemed missed when with a group. When the weather socks in, I still like getting out. My perspective changes and I see things I might have missed on a beautiful sunny day with a group.
Mind wandering in a white world
Time to start traversing NW to the edge of the large trees. Okay, time for a rain coat. Outside ahead in the open field the large drops were noticeable. Jacket –check, gloves –darn, Where’s my gloves? Oops! A retrace to my break to find my right glove lonely at the break spot –sorry glove. I was amazed how easy the travel was back to the edge of the woods using my previous steps. Luckily the steps made for a quick return. Now donned in thin gloves and rain jacket I crossed the opening (11:37a, 3.0m, c3728’).
Narrow gulley heading toward summit –not my route.
Looking up a narrow gulley emptying into this mini basin. The other side was another beauty. Large and small cedars, cedars everywhere. The rich smell of them like a perfume when you walk through Nordstrom’s, but with this I wanted to stop and take deep breaths, check out the bark’s red hue and the elegance of this grove.
I dropped a little to stay below the cliffs on my right. Again the woods gave way to an opening of a snow filled gully (12:04p, 3.2m, c3860’). I hung a traverse left under large cedars. Another opening and time to access the route. My notes said right side, but left side looked better except the gulley across the way that had emptied itself into the creek gorge. Hey wait, it’s snowing! It’s warm and snowing –cool. I wanted to try the west side, but kept east, having heard it goes. But does it?
Tighter gulley, route up on right, down on left Passing next to the burn area
A tight steep snow ledge traverse over the creek, then up steepening slope to a newly burned section. I zigged up the large trees finding hollow posthole opportunities abundant. Maybe easier than the deep snow in the steeper opening to my right? Well, better overall route –I think. Off snow to wet rock. Then snow again topping off to look down and across a vast (all relative) white basin in full winter snowfall (12:38p, 3.4m, c4377’). The clouds now masked the upper ridge and peaks. I could only guess from the map to go up the basin and error right to the ridge.
Arriving at the c4380 upper basin soaked in and snowing –a look at the west ridges
Too lazy for putting on snowshoes, I postholed across the virgin white, past two avy debris piles and started heading up. With the time for posthole ascent my mind wanders. I was pondering and this came to mind:
When rain falls it is called rain. When snow falls it is called snow. When on the ground snow is still called snow, but rain is not…
My mind kept on with its thoughts as the pitch steepened and the snow deepened.
The west ridge The route to the western ridge saddle
Around 4800’ I started worked more right through a path of smaller trees (or tree tops). Saw the ridge on my left (1:25p, c5100’) and the pitch increased (measured at 50 degrees in one spot).
The summit gulley comes up from the saddle on the west Mr H, keeping things real
Small buttresses on left and right, then pitch laying back. Low visibility, but obvious I was topping out to the summit block. Left a taller block, I went right and up the shorter block for the view (1:48p, 3.8m, 5530’).
False south summit Crosby main summit
Well, not much of a view –just gray and white all around. The only object to view was of the summit block. Back down and to the summit. The base of the block was a nice area, with a wind berm and tastefully arranged trees –sound odd? It wasn’t.
Base of summit block
Now I noticed the strong icy wind that was at my back the way up. Easy walk up the west side of the block to the snow covered summit of Crosby (1:53p, 3.8m, 5540’). I poked and dug around a little, but could not find a cairn or register. I took an obligatory summit shot to see Mr. H show crawling up over the tallest rock. Ice axe in paw and covered in snow. Looks like he’d had a real work out. May have been a question in his head why hi buddy Mukmuk was at the Grand Canyon while he was freezing his sock monkey butt off on a small Cascade peak in a blizzard.
Mr H almost on the tallest summit rock
A hasty retreat
Mr. H in pocket I made my retreat. The steep gulley up was difficult to glissade with the deep snow. At the ridge I found shelter in a tree grove for a break and lunch (2:20p, 3.9, c5100’).
Sheltered lunch break
The decent in the 4350’ basin was a series of glissade “attempts”. The density and depth of the snow was not good for downhill post-holing or glissading. I descended the basic of my route up.
Heading back down to the upper basin
360 pano of the Upper Basin
After the burn I dropped into the gulley and crossed to the west of the creek. A steep gulley had emptied itself into the creek, I followed it, passing some deep holes and a careful snowbridge crossing well above where the creek narrows and drops.
The burn area seen from the west side of the creek -and now the snow has turned to wet (rain)
Back in the cedars, the smell was welcoming. I was imagining being in a hot sauna. I wish! A traverse east to the big woods (2:55p, 4.7m, c3800’) and a drop down.
Distorted wet cedar picture
Near the bottom I stayed further east, not as good as the ascent, just trying to avoid the über steep areas. I left the trees about 100’ east of the creek on the abandoned road. Down here it was raining. Now getting thoroughly wet I gained the road (3:22p, 5.2m, c2600) and after a bit did some cross-country in the woods to avoid some of the switchback. No new prints on the road, just mindless walking. Sinking about 6-8” I finally donned snowshoes. The walk in was nicer than the walk out. Just a long walk, checking out the river and after a mind numbing time (an hour?) the fixed creek crossing and boulder. Here there were steps and somebody with a high clearance vehicle had tried to bust through the snow. Back at the car, (4:23p, 7.6m, c1680) it was oh so nice to strip the wet clothes and put on dry. Today was a test of gear and GoreTex Pro Shell had lost. I think GoreTex works great as long as you don’t get it wet.
Seat heater cranked and heater blazing I drove off to check out some logging road access points. I was trying to decide where to go tomorrow. Pulling onto Miller River road a message popped up from Stefan, “wanna play tomorrow?”. Opening it I read, “going to do Silvermoon tomorrow…” Hmmm, sounds good, I replied with, “perfect… when leaving…” I hope tomorrow’s trip will be a tad drier…
Thanks for reading, and happy trails,
Mileage: 7.6m (4.7 road, 2.9 scramble)
Time: 7h26m (4h53 up, 2h23 down/ 2h22m road, 3h30m up/1h22m down scrambling)
Gear: Snowshoes, trek pole, ice ax and Rain gear.
Copyright 2013, FWB, all rights reserved