In February 2005 I snowshoed up
and spent the night on the summit at 6500'. In April of 2006 Bob
and Kolleen joined me for a night at 6200' on the summit ridge of
. This year I wanted to return to Iron on a clear winter weekend. The
problem was that I could not get free on a clear weekend. There were precious
few sunny weekends. Good Friday is a holiday in my business and the forecast
was for sunny weather. Although nobody else was free I decided to go while
the weather allowed. The views from the summit are spectacular when all
the nearby peaks are still covered in winter white.
I had my first chance to use my one person Hilleberg Akto. It is
much smaller than the Hilleberg Nallo 3 I use on snow but also two pounds
lighter and less bulky. I added crampons and still came in with a 4 lb.
lighter pack than in 2005. I was out of town by 6:15 and to the end of
pavement on the NF Teanaway Road at 8:15. The Jungle Creek Road had snow
almost immediately but the Teanaway Road was bare. I drove up about 1/2
mile passing over several small snow patches. At that point the snow patches
were deeper and I chose to park off the road.
By 8:30 I was on the road/trail. The road is groomed for snowmobiles
and the snow was very consolidated and icy. It was hard enough to allow
walking without snowshoes. The road is still mostly snow covered. There
were several bare patches and the snow was about one to two feet deep.
I made very good time and reached the Beverly Creek Road turn off in only
63 minutes. I had covered over three miles but gained only 400'.
The Beverly Creek Road had only one small downed log part way across.
It too was snow covered with a few bare patches. My pace slowed down as
the grade steepened and the snow became softer. The Beverly road is used
by snowmobiles but not groomed. It took me 40 minutes to climb a mile to
the summer trailhead parking lot. There was still about two feet of snow
in the lot. The hiker bridge is almost snow free. Another 20 minutes of
slogging in softer snow brought me to Bean Creek.
Last year we planned to camp on Iron but the very high water caused
us to climb up the ridge to Earl instead. This time it was no problem.
I peeled down to shorts as it was already getting warm at 10:30. Bean Creek
is very wide at the summer ford. There are several channels. I found
that snow covered all but a five foot wide fast flowing channel. I was
able to climb down to the creek, step on a slick rock and jump across. I
climbed back up onto snow and walked the rest of the way across.
A short way up from the creek I found a short bare section of trail.
There was no more dirt from there up. Several logs have fallen across
the summer trail. It was easy to get around them on snow. The section
through forest is easy walking. When I came to an open talus slope and
meadow I put on snowhoes. Staying on route is not necessary. I popped out
of the trees near the creek right where the summer trail emerges.
Heading up the valley is easier on snow than on dirt. Instead of
switchbacks I just headed up along side the creek. Last year Suzanne
and I crossed much earlier than I had before and I decided to give it
a try once again. There was lots of snow and there was a good chance a
snow bridge could be found. Soon after I dropped near the creek I found
a good looking bridge. It was plenty solid and I scampered across.
Now I began a slow rising traverse. If I went up too fast I would
end up with steep side hilling. The forest is open enough to allow easy
travel. I crossed over one ridge and had a couple short steep climbs. This
bought me out under the summit. The ridge north of the summit is heavily
corniced. Farther north near where the summer trail crossed the ridge
it is lower with fewer cornices. There is one small spot on the summit ridge
with no cornices. This is where I usually ascend. It is much shorter than
continuing to the low spot on the ridge.
The cornices were as big as I have ever seen. There was sloughing
snow beneath them. The area with no cornice also had no sloughing at all.
Just steep smooth snow up to the ridge top. I continued to right below
the open spot and stopped. I changed snowshoes for crampons. In 2005
the snow was awful and I took an hour to climb straight up 500'. This
day the snow was much better.
I was able to climb straight up the slope. There was a couple inches
of soft snow on top of hard pack. In 30 minutes I was on the ridge top.
It was now 2:15 and I had another 6 hours of daylight. I walked a short
way to where I camped in 2005. I dropped my pack and continued a short
way to the summit. The register was visible on the rocks. I saw one old
ski track after Bean Creek but no signs of people on Iron Peak.
After I signed the register I went back to scope out a campsite.
There are only a few short trees on the west side of the ridge. There is
really not much of a wind break. I began to dig out a flat platform. Under
a few inches of soft snow was more well consolidated hard snow. I took
a full hour to dig out a platform. The Akto went up easily. It was cooling
but still comfortable in the sun at 6500'. I spent much time taking photos.
This really is a great spot.
What I was waiting for was sunset. As the sun sets over the Cascade
Crest the colors and alpenglow can be spectacular. While waiting I melted
snow to replenish my water and then had dinner. The sunset colors were
good but not as good as I had hoped for. Still it was well worth the effort
to get up there. I hoped the sunrise would be just as good. At my high
vantage point it did not get dark until about 8:30. As I went to bed the
wind began to blow.
The wind kept blowing all night long. Not really hard but 10-15
mph without a break all night. I woke up at 6:15 and it was just getting
light. I waited for the rising sun to heat up my tent. It did not happen.
When I finally poked my head out it was to see dark black clouds all around.
They were higher than the peaks but dark all around me. What happened to
my sunny Saturday? No first light photos this day.
It was cloudy, windy, and soon began to sleet on my tent. This was
not part of the plan. Should I wait to see if it cleared or get out before
it got worse? I chose the latter. I did find that the Akto with less than
half the interior space of my Nallo is much warmer. I was toasty all night
long. Cooking in that wind was not a good idea. I had melted snow for water
the night before. All I need to do was get packed up.
The sleet stopped and I began to pack. Any light item not weighted
down would go flying off the ridge. Fortunately I was able to get everything
packed up with minimal difficulty. One highlight of this trip is the glissade
off the summit. I hoped the early morning snow would not be too icy. It
was just about perfect. What took me 30 minutes to climb up I slid down
in 30 seconds. A very fast and easy 500' of elevation loss. The drop to
Beverly Creek went very fast. I chose to cross the creek higher up the valley
as it would be easier to find a snow bridge.
I did find a good bridge across the creek. As I headed down the
valley I found two sets of ski tracks. They were not there the day before.
It was only 9:15 so they must have come from the day before. I was able
to follow my tracks down. The skiers also followed my tracks up. I snowshoed
from the creek crossing down to the Teanaway Road. Below the summer trailhead
I met two skiers heading to Bean Creek Basin. Farther down the road I met
a lone skier and his dog. His brother and a friend made the tracks in
Beverly Basin. They were headed on to a ski ascent of Mt. Stuart.
The Teanaway Road was still hard enough to allow me to pack my snowshoes.
I took a few breaks along the river and still made it out by 1:00. Just
before reaching my car I met three folks. One of them was John Morrow.
I have read his ski reports for several years at Turns-All-Year. I had conversed
with him just a few days earlier on nwhikers.net. It really is a small
world. John told me that the lone skier I talked with earlier was Josh
Hummel. Jason Hummel was one of the Mt. Stuart skiers. That was the only
time I will ever be first up a trail ahead of Jason.
Friday turned out to be warm and sunny. I had a great day climbing
up Iron Peak and had some very good photo opportunities. Saturday was not
so great. Still it did make the trip more of an adventure than I expected.
In a few weeks the roads will be melting out and it will be easy to day
scramble up many of the Teanaway Peaks. It was fun to jump the gun and
get to a high peak to camp before the crowds arrive. Now I have to think
about what peak to camp on next winter.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Up Bean Creek
Stuart & Bill Pks
Fourth Ck Valley
Beverly Turnpike Pass
500' To Go
Very Big Cornice
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2007