Mount Washington (Olympics) - Winter Direct, April 2007
Martin and I paired-up for what would be my first outing of the season. Going on Martin's suggestion, we set our sights on Mount Washington's Winter Direct - a Winter or Spring snow climb. The route itself featured mostly low to moderately angled snow, except for the last 200 feet which is steep snow and rock. Cloud and fog obscured the proper finish on the day we climbed the route, and we somehow ended up at a nearby notch on the Southeast Ridge instead (above Suprise Coulior).
To get there, we drove US 101 to Hoodsport and then turned left (west) on HWY119 towards Lake Cushman. We remained on this road until coming to a stop sign at the junction with FSR24. Turning right here, we continued on un-paved road following a sign directing us to Mt. Ellinor. Next, we turned left on FSR2419 and continued until stopped by snow shortly before the lower trailhead to Mt. Ellinor. We continued on foot, passing FSR014 on the left. We hiked along a somewhat rough section of road just before a waterfall at a sharp bend and continued just past the second branch of Big Creek before reaching the Jefferson Pass Trail (sign here). We hiked the trail to the timbered pass then turning left began booting up snow along the base of the East Ridge. We soon got cliffed-out and were forced to make two rappells to reach easier terrain in the basin between the East and Southeast Ridges.
After rapping, we booted up mushy snow into the upper basin, then turned left into a hidden bowl. The highpoint at center is where we topped out. The summit, however appears to be one of the points to the right. The fog returned just as we began the final ascent into the upper-bowl. Catching a brief glimpse of what lay ahead, we could see steep snow and a moat crossing beneath a snowy notch.
Steep, unappealing rock just west of the notch complicated the finish to Washington's summit. About six weeks later we would once again find ourselves contemplating this rock pitch. We tagged the point behind Martin and called it good just as more clouds rolled in. We could hear, and eventually see another party climbing up the coulior on the other side of the notch (Suprise Coulior). They too were duped into believing that this would lead to easy scrambling terrain.
After discussing with the other party, we decided to descend the Suprise Coulior rather than returning the way we came. The snow was notably firmer on this side of the mountain. We glissaded down low into the basin and then not locating the trail off to the right, proceeded to bushwhack our way along a water course back to the road. Satisfied with the day, Martin and I vowed to return and climb the Southeast Ridge someday.
Click here to view.