This witter has been unseasonably dry and unseasonably warm. It had boded very tragically for the ski adventures in that there haven’t really been any in the Cascades. However, that does mean there is access to regions normally closed down by winter weather in other years. Having been busy with life through most of my January weekends I thought a trip to Mount Forgotten, an alpine scramble, would be perfect.

Forgotten is accessed by the Perry Creek Trail. The snowless trail first parallels the Mountain Loop Highway for a mile. It then reaches the road to the old trailhead. Turn right here and after about 1/4 mile the road turns into a trail. We followed Perry Creek through the valley on the flanks of Mt Dickerman. The foliage with golden brown and yellow, making it seem more like a late autumn day. It didn’t take us very long to reach Perry Falls were the trail crosses the creek. From here the flat walking ends and the elevation gain begins. We reached some snow spots at about 4,000ft, but it was hard packed and only in patchs. It was easy to regain the trail.

After two miles of switchbacks we reached Mt Forgotten Meadows which was full of hard packed snow. It was a bluebird with Glacier, Shuksan, Baker, Pugh and countless other peaks all in view. From this spot Mt Forgotten can be seen to the right just beyond a little hill. We ditched our snowshoes and traversed around the hill to get to the base of Forgotten. On the other side of the hill we were supposed to drop down 150 feet to get the the ridge. I read a recent trip report and it did not mention any concerns. However, the snow slopes that led down to the ridge were nearly vertical… and a fall would funnel you to chute down the mountain. Terrain trap. We checked again and again for an easy way down. No reports mentioned a rope, but I felt unsafe without having a belay, pickets or rappelling. In the end we concluded that although we’d probably be fine “probably” wasn’t good enough. The consequences of a fall were just to high for comfort. Instead we climbed the little hill and practiced some crampon techniques.

Still a glorious day in the mountains. But I suggest have a rope and some pickets to climb Forgotten.

12 miles (14 with summit)

3000 ft (4000 with summit)

The field trip portion of my AIRE class was scedruled to be held at the Mount Baker Ski area last weekend. I decided to come up early and snowshoe up the Artist Point on Friday. It’s a route I’ve always wanted to be and the weather forecasted was perfect. Clear sky’s and avalanche danger low. The Bagney Lakes Basin snowed evidence of avalanche debris from earlier in the week during the massive rain dump and crowns were everywhere in the gullies. I was happy that wasn’t there a few days earlier.

The route follows the cat track from the Heather Meadows Parking lot for the first 500ft of gain going over two steep sections. beware of inbound skiers and riders and stay on the right side of the track. There is a huge switchback that goes left and a sign warning about backcountry travel dangers. Stay right at this sign and cut across the ungroomed terrain. There was a pretty clean stomped down trail here. This leads to Austin Pass. The backcountry trail leads back to the road which is sided by steep slopes above. Due to the low danger of avalanches I decided to take a shortcut up the slopes to reach Artist Point. From here I followed a faint trail to the base of Table Mountain. I considered climbing it, but the sluffs of loose snow above made the going look sketchy. Instead I turned around and walked back to Artist Point. From here I followed the ridge to Huntoon Point and practiced self arrest.

Splendid views of Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan graced me the entire day as I explored the slopes. Conditions were good from snowshoeing as the snow was hard packed from the rain and there was minimal sinkage.