“Mr H meets the green hair lady and goes dumpster diving on St Patrick’s day””
Stonewall Ridge (5976', p1376')
Vanson Peak Quad, Peak 1560+ (1596', p686')
Mar 17, 2012
Stefan Feller, Greg Koenig, Paul Klenke, Eric Eames, Juan Lira, Martin Shetter, Eric Johnson
Weather: snow/rain, low visibility, snow level ~2500’, windy on summit
USGS: Hamilton Buttes, Packwook Lakes and Vanson Peak Quads (7.5min series)
Last week’s trip caught a little notice, over 18 miles and nearly 7800 vert in a day. A long day at that with the added of a ferry ride. This weekend Stefan again wanted to do a Ferry supported trip of ~18m, with less vertical. Plans morphed and the switch was to a closer (for Stefan) peak in the Randle area. Relatively few emails flung around. Up at 4am, carpool from Paul’s place. The group gathered at Stefan’s place down south and eight of us loaded in two cars headed to Randle. Given the cast of characters, this promised to be an entertaining trip regardless of weather, objective or if we made it/them or not.
Green hair and snow ridges
First stop was provisions in Randle. The gal at the check-stand was in a great mood and noticeable for her green hair. Oh yeah, it’s St Patrick’s Day. Re-grouped we headed east on Hwy 12 and a right onto FSRD 21. Into the valley the road was covered with a new thin layer of snow.
We parked at the end of the winter road at Middle Fork Johnson Creek (Johnson Creek Sno-park (don’t forget your snow park permit). Fay was waiting there for us, skis ready. That is when I heard the news of why the new/new car. I was glad I brought plastic boots with snow at the parking lot. I like warm and dry feet ; -) The first of the group was off up the untouched snow covered road (9:10a, c2344). Enough to add to the work, but not enough for floatation. Looked like Fay had it best gliding o her touring skis. About a third of a mile a right on FSRD 2130 to the turn at the north end of the north ridge of Stonewall. Again a re-grouping.
Fay kept on the road hoping to get to about 4000’. The rest of us headed south up the ridge in the woods (10:00, 1.6m, c2840). First off Stefan found a lightly covered hole between rocks as went down to his pack. Hmmm, reminds me of last week. Much zig-zagging in the second growth trees with 4-6” of snow coverage. A fairly steep pitch some logs to hop –not much else of interests.
The pitch eased and snow depth increased –time for snowshoes and a bite. A group this size, many opportunities for breaking trail. As the pitch and altitude increased the trees opened a bit. Now it was just a nice forest walk in the snow and ever steepening slope. Up, up and up. EricE was restless and would run ahead (uphill) –fast and a lot of energy.
Finally the ridge flattened and opened (11:44a, 2.7m, c5300). Is this peak going to be that fast? Nope! Into the open flat ridge ahead of us a vertical rock wall on the east and more up. The flat ridge was heavily corniced. Snow hard packed with light snow filling the tracks of a large four legged mammal (bear or cougar?). Snowing, windy and no views, even to the next ridge –guess this was going to be one of those trips.
We went back into the woods on the west side traversing under a few rock buttresses. Then up a steep section and angled back toward the ridge. Again opening to a thin rocky dead end (False summit, 12:25p, 3.3m, c5930).
The north false summit
We were still over a third of a mile from the summit, so no mistaking this was false. Also a big drop heading south, so backtracked and some joyous steep snowshoe descending. The pack was firm enough to go in reverse. The heck with that, it was time to de-shoe and plunge step down the steep firn and traverse a sidewalk under the ~50’ conglomerate rock outcrop we were a bit ago standing on top of.
Calf to knee deep we crossed a saddle, through smaller trees and traversed the wind swept summit ridge. Good care to stay away from the ridge top. The cornice was overhanging and below a vertical drop.
Greg on the summit
The summit was wind swept roll-over of rock (12:51p, 3.5m, c6026' (5980')). No views and none of us hung out long. We’d played with the idea of a loop, but I guess that was abandoned.
Summit Stonewall Ridge
The view east –the route not taken
A little celebration, some summit pics and we headed back north to the small trees for protection and lunch. Maybe while we waited Fay would catch us. We found out later her route was from the west and may have missed us even if timing was right.
Heading back was just a reverse of the route up sans snowshoes. Eric, Eric and Greg were off first and we didn’t see them again til the car. Martin and I waited below the steep section south of the wide open flat ridge area for a re-group. On the way down we found some good vistas to stop and take in the increasing view (1:50p, 4.4m, c5250'). At one point we could look direct down to the parking area. No shortcuts heading east with the entire upper ridge’s east side being a cliff.
The pitch was almost steep enough with the increasing deeper light snow to do some deep woods glissading. Then careful hiking to avoid holes in the thin snowpack. Re-grouped at the road (FSRD2130) (3:12p, 5.4m, c2831') and followed our tracks back to the car and the awaiting Eric’s. (and Greg) (3:54p, 6.9m, c2293) Only one set of ski tracks, Fay was still in.
Stats: 6.9m, 3862vert, 3h54m
Stats: 6.9m, 3862vert, 3h54m
Vanson Peak Quad, Peak 1560+ (1596',
Vanson Peak Quad, Peak 1560+ (1596', p686')
Time to Dive
At the cars a little more celebrating as usual. It was early and this group liked the idea of an added dumpster Vanson Peak Quad, Peak 1560+ (c1596', p686') dive. At the highway Martin came back to inform Paul his headlamp was out. About 10 minutes later a Highway Patrolman also reminded Paul of his headlamp. Delayed from the other carload we wondered where to turn off the highway. Shortly our answer was clear with four hooligans along a spur road, jumping up and down and waving arms. I think we went south on Frost Creek Rd, almost immediate right on Glenoma Rd, almost to Riffe Lake and a left on Champion Haul Rd south along the lake. A left on Champion Haul/Conway Rd and the first logging road on the right. Hmmm, flat and under 900’ elevation.
Not sure how exciting this bump was going to be, and in the rain. Promises of a short trip, seven of us took the bait while EricJ stayed back to hold the fort. Most had changed to shoes and couple stayed in our heavy boots –not sure which would be best. The jovial walk started flat (5:12p, 730') for a half mile. Then switched back flat less than a half mile to a clear cut.
Paul pointing the way Not sure what was so interesting –I guess I missed it
Finally we started up –about time. The next mile was easy walking up the logging road heading back the opposite direction again (east this time). As we left the clearcut, three deer came barreling full speed down the road. Most comical as two put on the brakes and went back up the road. The third kept looking at us. Almost like he was trying to process what to do. Finally bailing south off the road into the small young trees. Not like we needed entertainment, but it added to the experience.
The road in the trees and Riffe Lake in the background
The road flattened after passing a highpoint with a road going up it –not the highest point. A flat wide area, another highpoint on the right and the road started down. I went up a deer path in the mud, to a couple uncut trees, underbrush and a spot discernible as the highpoint (6:00p, 2.0m, c1596'). We'd started a little earlier with the celebrations. Let's say this group gave a new definition to "summit party".
Dumpster Dive achieved! Peak 1560+ (c1596’)
The entire broad area and we all crammed into that small area –need I say more celebration ensued? With this group that goes un-said. I won’t elaborated, but everyone was in high spirits. Following the ridge in the young trees back west entailed crouching low. Coming out we noticed Juan had lost his hat. I returned to the “summit to look for it, but no luck. Just before I re-appeared, Juan dipped into the trees to look. I guess to the group is was very comical. Some frivolous games and cavorting in the high wind, rain and then it started snowing sideways. We were getting a prime dumpster experience.
Good thing it didn’t get wet out (Paul and Stefan) Getting darker and wetter –that is snow and rain streaks. What are they doing anyway?
Time to head out…
Back at the flat we dipped into the woods to avoid the long road walk in circles. One made a direct line, the rest veered a bit, but ended up at the road for a short walk to the yellow locked gate and cars (6:55p, 3.8m). As we left it was getting dark. Looked like we’d made the most of the day. Getting late we stopped for a bite on South Hill -not good food, so no repeat business for them.
So many highlights, but of all the dumpster dive peak was the highlight of the day.
Post note. We heard from Fay. She made the summit of Stonewall with some good skiing and was out before dark.
Looks like success for all today.
Thanks for reading, and happy trails,
Stonewall Ridge: 6.9m, 3862vert, 3h54m
Vanson Quad 1560+: 3.8m, 836vert, 1h43m
Total: 10.7m, +/-4698vert, 8h47m
Gear: Snowshoes, raingear, plastic boots
Stonewall Ridge map:
Vanson Quad, Peak 1560+ (1596’) map (USGS Vanson Peak Quad 7.5min)
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