“Mr H meets a giant…”
Malachite Peak (6261’, p1261’)
Via WF Foss River and Trout Lake (FSTr 1064)
Dec 24, 2013
Teresa, Mr H and Franklin
Weather: Morning clouds to afternoon sunshine, high -low 30’s low -low 20’s.
I’ve been past Malachite a few times and never turned up for the peak or lake. First time past was early in Boy Scouts (c1973-4) on an overnight trip to Trout Lake. This time the river crossing and trail were much changed. A beautiful day, though a very late start. I changed locations to West Fork Foss River trail. A beautiful walk and with the low snow fall, perhaps we could make it to the TH by car. Two of us (plus Mr H) set off heading to Malachite Peak.
This was an alternate peak for the day, went up with no recent beta. Felt okay, because I had slipped a map in just in case. Oops, left the map in the entry hallway. Well, a backup of a (useless) Green Trails map (date on it is 1973) -no FINE detail to help. A GPS to log where I went, but not to navigate to it. Hmmm, I did read a tr of this peak a couple years ago, so I hoped maybe it'd come to mind as I go. I just remembered the summit block access from the west. Pretty basic. Turn up at the upper bridge and work up the south side… at the top, come at from the west. Loaded with ax, steel crampons, hand warmers, sandwich and a non-trail breaking sockmonkey that just wanted to stop and play in the snow...
TH WF Foss (tr1064) take a pic of the map at the TH… just in case
Up the Foss River…
So, trailhead at 11am, no map… 8”+ snow on the road, a little less on the trail. A reminder of the extra effort walking in snow. My worries eased when the trail passed the old river crossing and I could see a new bridge ahead (~05 miles). Most likely a repair after the 2006 trail flood damage.
In openings peak-a-boo views of the peaks far above with snow and wisps of clouds surrounding –like over 4400 vertical foot above!
0.9 miles from the TH we paused to admire what I had learned long ago as the “largest” Douglas Fir. And it is huge, worth showing to those that have never seen truly huge trees.
Mr H shown for reference of size Windfall across trail
The trail was crusty snow with some large(not huge) windfalls blocking the trail in three places. 1.9+ miles to Trout lake in less than an hour. Still some clouds, but bright sun reflecting off the partially snow covered lake. Beautiful and along the way, the only tracks we saw, were a set of coyote tracks.
Trout lake side note
Trout Lake is a great easy hike for those you want to walk with, and are not “hikers”. Less than two miles in and in the 4-500 foot vert range. Great views and gives the feel of the cascades forested lakes. (55 Hikes Around Stevens Pass: Wild Sky Country, Rick McGuire and Ira Spring, 102 Hikes in the Alpine Lakes… Ira Spring, 100 Hikes in Washington’s Alpine Lakes, Vicki & Ira Spring, p40).
Back to the program
A break, then off we went. Another 35 minutes and Teresa turned around at 2800’. Her recent cold had her lacking energy. I plodded on til with about 12” of snow on the trail donned snowshoes at c3150. Before the bridge (c3900’) looking uphill, it was way too steep. Just before the bridge I took an uphill turn (right) up the hill, not so steep. Well, that changed after a very short bit. The only reason I made it up was the traction of the spikes of the snowshoes.
My route up was obviously wrong, since I've not heard of others cliff climbing and über steep from the trail up to the boulder field. No way was I doing a descent of that in the dark, and with that, at least I knew I could get down (by daylight?). Well, sort of. A narrow 45-50 degree steep gulley lead up between cliffs.
Not going down this way
Topped out to relatively flat, then spat me out into a snow covered boulder field.
Boulder Field Silver Eagle Peak
I worked left and up, passed through tall trees and the top of small trees on the west side.
A wide open field extended steeply up to rocky ridge top. Impressive, but I assumed not the summit. I’d hover on the crust, then break through. I aimed upward and to the left of a rosy lit rock top. Finally in the sun (for a bit), the last 100 feet or so of snow was over a foot deep of grapple. No traction, like broken Styrofoam mini balls. Argh, so slow.
Adding to the Sunset series
Gaining the ridge south (c5800’) of the summit block I could see I had little time before sunset. My watch indicated sunset at 4:17 and it was almost 4:00.
5800’ south ridge of Malachite
By the time I’d taken photos, put on a coat, no feeling in hands or soaking wet feet… it was 4:10. Hmmm, add another to the list of those that didn't get Malachite first try... my reward was I got to watch the sunset. Stunning and beautiful.
Sunset over Turquoise Peak
To the southeast some impressive peaks. Man, I want to do them.
Summit Chief(s) Chimney Rock and far right the Lemahs
Looking a bit, I recognized them –Summit Chief (Stefan and Mike Trip), Chimney Rock (Climb with Susan), Lemah (hike with Matt, Carla and Eric)… Darn, done them. Well, to my left were more peaks a waiting.
Mists to the west
360 degree interactive summit pano.Click and drag in viewer -also zoom in (shift/scroll) and out (ctrl/scroll)
Sunset and I needed to get in gear to get past the cliffs before dark.
Long shadows, Mr H and I, celebrating Christmas Eve sunset Last light glow on Chimney Rock
The slope down offered a little glissading
On the way down, I looked down one of the gulleys I had come up and thought (out load). WTF! No Fing way! I searched and found a way around, dodging cliffs and ice to get to the trail with 15 minutes left before headlamp. Crazy climbers! A snow punch walk in 8" of crusty snow in the dark to the joys of finding a patch of ice. Dang glad I carry a padded pack to land on... lol. The rest of the way down went comfortably (now that hands and toes warmed up). I reached the car at 6:15p, dark, hungry and ready for heading home to nap before St Nick would grace us tonight.
It was my fourth time up the trail since 1973, but it's been a while I guess, trail has been rebuilt and moved -new bridge, switchbacks... , I always enjoy the "Largest Fir" and Trout Lake. The drive in the Foss river road was an adventure in itself.
Next time I'll avoid the cliff route and will start much earlier than lunch time ; -).
All in all a good day, great views and a great scramble. And sunset from the summit ridge was a great reward for the day.
Hungry and confused on which way to start
Thanks for reading, and happy snow trails,
In: 4+m, 4300vert, 4hrs
Mile High to Car: 6.9m, 2h05m.
Total: 8.1m, +/-4350vert, 6h15m
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