Micheal (meetup organizer) added me involuntarily to this training hike since I am on his climb for Eldorado. I didn’t have all the technical gear yet and when I asked Micheal about this, he generously offered to use his. I thought it was an usual practice hike and didn’t expect much other than the training part but like the most of the winter hikes this year, I was surprised and had amazing fun.
I took my car to the trailhead for the first time and it was full car with filled trunk for the first time. I think I felt the drag due to heavy load a bit while driving. The group had more than 25 people and we all started hiking and reached Annette lake without major breaks. My backpack was heavy and felt it throughout. The Sun broke out few times and the frozen lake looked beautiful amidst the mountains. After some snacking, we started for the ridge below the Silver Peak. It was almost 1500 feet of snowfield with an average of 30 deg+ slope. I broke the trail for sometime and the line of people on the snowfield looked soothing. I somehow like that sight a lot and the beautiful scenery behind me only encouraged the hike. I was excited at the thought of glissading while returning. Clouds were kind to us and blocked most of the sunlight on this section. Steadily, we reached the ridge and we were treated with breathtaking panoramic beauty for 270 deg and Silver peak’s ridge for the rest. My first meetup hike in Seattle was to Silver Peak and it was from south side. There was a bowl like shaped snowfield ahead of us and it looked perfect for snow travel training. There were some daring snowmobilers too going up and down the bowl.
We broke across rope teams and I had named our team Chaku (Knife = ಚಾಕು in kannada) because of the knife edge on Eldorado. We took some time gearing up and entered the bowl with 4 of us tied to a rope. While coming up we trained for falls and ice axe arrest and I called out multiple falls. Sometimes I simulated falling by tightening the rope without calling hoping that my team is ready for the arrest even without hearing sounds. It was a fun training exercise and my respect for Micheal and SOA meetup group only increased. Clouds were clearing up gradually and we could see most of the distant peaks, Kaleetan was obvious and famous one. The next part was the glissade and Micheal and others gave some very useful tips for a safe glissade. He also spoke about the snow conditions – the glissade section facing west was exposed to Sun and that made the snow slushy which aids in speed control on the way down. Due to a bad glissade on Mt Ellinor few weeks back I was scared but nonetheless I wanted to try. Multiple chutes were made to avoid exposing rocks and tailbone injury. The left most chute took the steepest route and with my new rain paints I went for it. I remembered Micheal’s words to use ice axe’s shaft as rudder and kept saying myself push, push in an effort to thrust the shaft into the snow to avoid speeding up. I looked at the mountains and Annette lake while glissading and it felt fantastic. The slushy snow really helped and it was safe to arrest in the end. We glissaded multiple times and there was one section where the chute went between two trees which was scary. We ended up glissading around 1400 feet and I think this was my longest glissade. From there on it was a normal hike to trailhead. Then we had dinner at Rajadhani. I had forgotten that Kaka was not a veggie eater and poor she couldn’t make the most of the buffet.
Never in my wildest dreams I thought of doing the stuff I am in PNW. From just jumping from the trees/roof, crossing streams and adventure rides to mountaineering is a big and proud development. I never thought I would spend my time with such amazing able people and would have fun alongside them. It certainly feels great and am just plain happy to be doing such stuff.