Strangely enough, we were granted another gorgeous and sunny day in the Cascades. Unheard of in November, although the temperature hover around 28 degrees. Doug, Lisa and I took advantage of the lack of ran and went back to the Mountain Loop Highway to climb Mt. Dickerman. This was my fourth time up the mountain, but first time in the snow.

The hike is 3800 feet of gain in 8.5 miles, thus making it a wonderful conditioner. It took us 5 hours round trip including a long stop on the summit. There were very few folks on the trail. The first section through the forest was in good condition with the except of one icy patch which we skirted around. The creek by the first waterfall switchback is cross able over rocks. The next switchback granted wonderful view of the frozen falls, though Ice did not look climbable (maybe later season). Beyond the here where the trail flattens out we encounters rivers of ice. We pout on our microspikes here. It is possible to do without them, but it made the going safer and swifter.

The ice eases to snow on the upper slopes of Dickerman. It is maybe 3 inches deep and well packed down on the trail. The clear day granted us sharp and spectacular views of the Cascade Range with good looks at Glacier Peak and Mt Baker.

Today was the coldest day in Washington since March. But is was a clear cold day; the perfect opportunity to head out to Mt Pilchuck. The previous three times I’d climbed this peak the summit was socked in with heavy mist and only offered patchy views at best. As Doug and I pulled into the parking lot at 3,000 feet the blue skies seemed to indicate that today I might finally see something other than clouds from the summit.

After starting out on the trail and then turning back once to make sure our lights were off Doug and I climbed at a steady pace to the talus. Here the trail resembled low angle waterfall ice. Heavy rain that had fallen over the weekend was frozen in thick slippery rivers over the trail. The going was tedious, but not impossible. I did not put on my microspikes and opted instead to tip toe from dry rock to dry rock poking out of the ice. Sometimes we detoured off the trail and walked around it. I would not consider this dangerous of folks are cautious and tread carefully. It was indeed cold, but the heavy winds that we were promised never transpired.

The views opened up revealing the Mountain Loop Highway Peaks and far off volcanoes. The window shutters on the fire tower were closed and a heavy board blocked the entrance. It was easy to lift it and get inside the little shelter for some lunch and conversation with some folks from the Marysville-Pilchuck High School. They had come to retrieve i flag they’d hung outside the shelter in honor of the recent school shooting.

Before descending I lets the winds carry Eric’s ashes away from the summit. Now he can enjoy the view too. We headed down the mountain running into many folks on the way up. It was veterans day and it seemed everyone was eager to take advantage of the good weather on their day off!

2300 ft elevation gain

5.4 miles




After briefly discussing the possibility of getting in a final weekend climbing on the east side before the freezing temperatures crept in Cody, Michael and I took advantage of a nice weekend weather window and headed out to Vantage for Halloween weekend. We were treated to brisk, dry weather and fewer crowds than usual. Cody got in some awesome leads at high grades… not bad for a gym climber whose only been outside once. Michael worked on endurance. I worked on climbing and leading in general. We arrived Friday night and tentatively drove through the campground road with my car in search of a campsite. The roads are in better condition, though still rocky. The toilet paper problem had definitely improved. We put up Michael massive four person tent… and explained to Cody which way to orient himself as he had never been camping before!

We began the next morning at Sunshine Wall and warmed up on Solar Therapy 5.7… we all found that route uninspiring. Plus the Sunshine Wall routes that we wanted to do afterwards were taken. So instead Michael led us over to the little climbed Moonshine Wall. We had the area to ourselves. We climbed XXX and White Lightning… both excellent 5.9 routes worthy of repeating. Cody also Led of Yo Mario 5.10A… I was unable to get over the crux move in the beginning. I was told that after that the grade eases dramatically though.

After having lunch beside Powerhouse Wall  which features gnarly routes (I left some of Eric’s ashes there so he could check them out and begin projecting) we walked over to the Feathers. Cody led up Arterial Bypass 5.8 and the classic Hardening of the Arteries 5.10A (apparently its has a massive pump factor!). I was over-gripping at this point due to memory flashbacks of Eric so I only did the 5.8 and called it good for the day.

The next day Michael led up Don Coyote 5.8… a awesome route with fun moves that is slightly overhung. Next I led one of my favorite sport routes Updrafts to Heaven 5.5 which begin as a fun chimney and finished on the face. A tight squeeze rappel though! Michael and Cody climbed Satan’s Wagon 5.10B (fun, but hard classic) and Blood Blister 5.10A on Satan’s Pillar. With them tired from the tough routes I took my turn and led up Feather in My Cap 5.5 (like a staircase and not much fun) and Ruffled Feathers 5.7 (much more fun). We finished the day on Desert Shield 5.9 led my Cody. He didn’t find it inspiring, but I loved the touch moves over the bulge. Content we packed up and headed home… driving right into the rain as we crossed onto the west side!