“Mr H sunny days of a Pink Moon on Silver Moon””
Silver Moon Peak (8252', p532')
Edar Creek and Lake 7141 Basin
April 28, 2013
Stefan Feller, Eric Eames, Tom Sjolseth and Franklin Bradshaw
Weather: warm sun (50s?), overcast. Summit cold and windy –and bright.
A wet weekend forecast seems to have scared most the usuals off. Others having domestic duties –house inspections, thesis papers… A good weekend for that stuff. I was coming out of a hike Saturday, wet and wondering about what to do Sunday. My wet phone chimed a new email. A note from Stefan titled, “wanna play tomorrow?” Hmmm, what would it be? Another sub 200’ dumpster or… he message started out, “going to do Silver Moon tomorrow…” Okay, high on my list, I’d thought of waiting for fall colors. Last time we heading on that way was wet, windy and cold. This weekend was brewing about the same. It did look earlier like the east side would be hit late. Give the forecast the eastside was the call. Well, I’m game to give it a go. I sent back, “perfect”.
Head East young men…
5am carpool, a quick drive heading east. Was to be three of us Stefan, Eric and I. I’d thought of a few others interested, but had spent the night drying pack and gear. By morning everything was still wet. Wet gear and three hours of sleep –hmmm, a typical hike? The skies were dark with clouds at Rainey Pass, Washington Pass we could see east that the day would be sunny –Yippee! Pulling into Cedar Creek we saw another car present. Someone else hiking early here? Eric made a comment of a surprise guest. And… out pops Tom! This would be a fast trip. With Eric and Tom, I’d be hanging on to keep in there tailwind. We loaded for whatever may come, Stefan had a full rope, and picket, Eric a picket and in my bag a rack of pro. 8:05am, packed, booted and maps passed out we started a brisk pace up the dry and snow-free Cedar Creek Trail.
A few miles dry and sunny and a few more snow covered (trail?)
A col waiting to be skied and the group “striking a pose”
Much windfall to detour and after a few miles the patches of snow became soft and deep enough for snowshoes. As the snow became more prevalent the trail was at times lost. No matter, we knew where to go. The snow was dirty, made for slow progress, more a workout and not the pretty winter covering I like most. Almost dismal compared to in an hour and three quarters we came to the first of the aspen. It was open, bright and sunny. The lines and shadows from the bright sun beautiful.
Oops, Head West…
Another half mile and in the open we could assess the valley we needed to go up. The access ridge was snow covered, the next ridge closer was bare rock.
From Larch to rock… good scrambling up
We headed up, crossing a creek and dodging pockets of trees, rock and mini ledges. It was nice being in the sun and having views.
Grand views east to the Gardners
Behind us the Gardners and Shelokum were inviting for skiing. In front I kept my eye open for where the group had gone. They took pity on my and waited til I was in range then off again. Yesterday workout was good and would catch up with me later, now I just kept chugging up. At c6800 we took stock of a preferred route. We went up a little more as the snow became solid (thin soft and full of deep posthole traps). Now time to traverse left to the lake basin.
Traversing to the lake Basin at c6800’
The lake is at 7141, but the lower angle of the basin is in the 6800’ range. Too high on this traverse gets into cliff bands requiring dropping down, so best to have altitude patience. Even with snowshoes on, we were sinking in deep. Spring snow was here. Snow and rock patch and tree stand dodging, up down around… we were now standing at the base of the larch filled Lake 7141/Silver Moon Basin. Flattish going we simply headed west.
Entering Lake 7141 Basin Stefan and three larch
The sunshine, smooth white snow and larch combined for textures and shades that were worth much shutter delay. With this crew it was work trying (just trying) to catch up after each pause. We passed a lower rocky peak on the left. Looking ahead it was not obvious the route up Silver Moon. I could see several gulleys going from right to left to a ridgeline. Then what? There was a narrow traverse between cliffs that lead to a horrendously steep face over a cliff. Gawd, I hope that’s not the route!
Looking across the basin to Silver Moon The gulley furthest up one that leads to a ridge notch on the left
Up from the flat the pitch began to steepen. We started up the right gulley directly below the ugly traverse area. At the base of the gulley proper it was time to stash the snowshoes and pole in place of an ice ax.
Stefan ready to head up the right gulley
Now boot stepping and snow chunks falling from above. Oh, above is that knarly traverse. So… we would have to cross it… Eric and Tom were breaking the way and Stefan and I in the tail. Many opportunities of nice scenery shots and steep snow shots of Stefan. Up the gulley then traverse right. The traverse went okay. Not as steep as it looked, yet airy. The postholes were deep, so precarious work moving from one to the next –keep looking up.
Across the traverse and up the ridge Spires on the ridge
After the traverse it got steeper. Then a ridge were it got even steeper. Eric and Tom had gone out on the slope right, while Stefan and I headed directly up. A look back at the basin was a test of vertigo.
Stefan heading around the ridge and up a steep section(s)
Up we went, the slope got steeper –yeah, go figure. A few spots the snow was rotted new rocks making for interesting going on getting up. Finally, to a ride Stefan went up some friction rock, while I skirted below, both getting to a more comfortable angled ridge line. Here on up was more a mix of rock and snow, still not a place to slip. Being careful to not break through the snow near rock. Around leftish we topped out on the mostly bare false summit.
Looking east to the Lake 7141 Basin and the Gardners
Great views all around. Even down, and it was a long way down in every direction.
Down climbing to the ridge to the summit
The steep wasn’t the crux, the rock, downclimb to the narrow span to the summit was the first. Then an up, not difficult, but airy with the ledge above being covered in a few inches of snow.
Stefan arrives at the summit Mr H on the summit cairn
2:15p, six hours ten minutes from the car and we all stood on the top of Silver Moon (8252’). Views were outstanding. Wisps of sun patches floating across the snow covered scenery. One side Silver Star and the Wine Spires, to its left Big Snagtooth and the Dog Tooth Spires. Behind that the Kangaroo area from last week and behind to the east the Gardners and Sawtooths. A lot of “tooths” and spires around here.
Close up of Big Snagtooth, Dogtooth Spires Lexington Tower, Concord Tower and Liberty Bell
Big Snagtooth, Dogtooth Spires Silver Star and Wine Spires
Below had been warm , but on the summit the wind was biting cold. Always seems cold at this elevation. We hung a while on the summit for food and signing Fay’s Register. Everyone since September 2010 fit on the first page of the tiny book. All great people. And for Tom, his second ascent.
Shortly we headed out. A nice rope safety for the lower and small up on the false summit. I didn’t trust my shoulder not being able to pull with my right arm (two torn ligaments and cartilage damage.
Eric striking a pose on the false sum (that Roy climbed last year) Stefan crawling up from the summit
The descent was airy looking out the steep pitch and the basin far below. Some spots the crust was firm and gave a wakeup call. Good plunge stepping we took our time playing it safe. Gathered snowshoes, a few glissade opportunities and at the lake level time for snowshoes again.
Time to descend more steep Tom at the narrow traverse
The bright sun had a while ago been masked by approaching clouds. From the summit we’d seen the new storm coming in from the west and already at Rainey Pass. Would we get out still dry? The last tie from here it’d taken three hours to get out on a mostly dry trail. The wet snow would make for slower travel. We went down the snow covered ridge skiers left from the lake (left of outlet). The snow was wet and sloppy. Too soft for boots ad too soft for any traction with floatation. A series of slips and glides and holes and zigging and zagging and… Rock patches became more prevalent and booting possible.
Great views took the mind momentarily off the down slog/slip
It seemed a long time to get back to the flat valley below. Water up at a creek and re-shoed, we followed the buried trail. Not much from here on out but mind numbing in the woods valley walking. About five miles of it, and it always seems twice as long going out. Several miles out tracks of a young bear walking out the trail. Also canine prints. Further along boot steps of someone heading out. The boot walker had not gone far in the snow. I assume the soft snow, extra effort and blowdown gave good cause to turn around.
Small bear print
We tried to take our mind off the walk with theories of relative miles. What factor is pack weight, heavy boots, soft snow, vertical postholing, technical steeps, early season extra love handles… The trailhead would be around the next bend, but the next bend never seemed to appear. Was this it? No, the next, no, now, no. Like kids in a car, are we there yet, are we… Yes, we were there! Wet boots off, warm puffy on, Stefan and Tom shared celebratory beverages.
This was a very good trip. Timing for weather and snow. Tom thought the route was more difficult with snow, but I enjoyed the booting up the steep snow more than hanging onto rock with a bad arm. After last time up Cedar Creek in the rain, I am happy to have sunny memories. For fall colors the Lake 7141 basin would be a great trip. An alternate route along the ridge would be a nice exploration.
Thanks Stefan for the last minute invite. And thank you all for setting a boot path.
Thanks for reading, and happy trails,
In: 6.5m, 6h10m
out: 6.5m, 3h30m
Miles on trail: 10+
Total: 13.1m, +/-5120vert, 10hrs
Gear: Snowshoes and ice axe. Took crampons, rack of pro, pitons, slings and rope.
Copyright 2013, FWB, all rights reserved