My Nemesis - Mt. Dickerman

Sometimes you have a burr you just can't get rid of. In the mountains it's often a peak that defeats the best laid plans. It may be an off trail route that draws its share of blood and still will not allow passage. It may be the West Ridge of Mt. Forbidden. It may be miles of slide alder protected by forests of devils club. Polarbear is still after a successful trip to South Cascade Lake via the Girl Scout route. For some it may be a high Himalayan peak. For me it is that Mountain Loop Peak of such overarching difficulty... Mt. Dickerman!

In truth, I have been on top of Dickerman more than half a dozen times. It's only recently that this seemingly easy peak has defeated me time, and time, and time, and yet another time again. It all began innocently enough. Suzanne and I headed up Dickerman on 10-31-04 (Failure #1) . Snow began at one mile and deepened as we hiked higher. About 400' below the top Evie the dog was having trouble in the snow. We chose to head on down before she had more problems. The top was maybe 10 minutes away.

On November 5, 2005 (Failure #2) Gary joined me for a hike up Dickerman after the first big snow storm of the year. The snow was the first layer over dirt so there was no avalanche danger. I was not expecting the snow to start at the 1920' parking lot. It was fun to slog through the first snow of the year. We had on snowshoes before we reached the waterfall. The snow was waist deep by the time we reached the winter route. The snow was way too soft to go up that way.

When we were ready to give up another snowshoer caught up. Higher we added two more. When we reached the ridge it became comical. Gary took 10 minutes to have lunch. The rest of us kept going. When he was done it took about 20 seconds to catch up with us. More than waist deep unconsolidated Cascade Concrete made progress nearly impossible. We figured at our rate of ascent we could cover the last mile in about 2 days. Chalk up another wipe out. Hey, one dog induced failure and one freak super deep snow dump. It could happen to anyone.

On November 11, 2006 (Failure #3) I headed up to redeem by sorry record. Suzanne, Bob, and Kolleen joined me. Not one to hog all the failure myself, I had lots of company on my attempts. The week before, there were major floods in western Washington. I expected that there would not be much snow left. Hmm... I was just a little bit way off. There was some snow in the parking lot. I wasn't expecting that. There was less than the year before as we motored up the trail.

It got deeper much faster than I expected. When we reached the winter route turn off it was as deep as the year before. We trudged on but ended up in a gully that had voids in the snow. I fell through shoulder deep in one spot. Just like the year before. Progress dropped to zilch. Swimming uphill proved to be pointless. This was the worst. We gained 2700' and failed to get near the previous years level. Oh damn!

Three straight failures! On Mt. Dickerman! This was now darn right embarrassing. Spring 2007 came around and I was determined to end this streak! On April 21, 2007 (Failure #4) Suzanne, Bob, Kolleen, Joe and Nikolai joined me for another attempt. The road had just opened so we would be among the first to head up this year. There was snow in the lot but we managed to pull in. The snow was consolidated. Much different than the last three tries.

The trail was bare up to 3200' and patchy for a few hundred feet more. The two groups ahead of us left the summer trail (hard to see it) and headed straight up. We traversed high above the trail and ended up way above the waterfall crossing. The snow was soft and our ice axes were about useless. With a steep climb down then a steeper climb up on crappy snow we chose not to press our luck. A steep but crummy climb would bring us onto easier terrain and on to the summit.

We debated a bit but chose to not take what looked to be an unreasonable chance. Down we went. At the end of that trip I vowed that I would get to the top of Dickerman before the year was out. I summited Snowking on my first try. Adams, first try.  Dickerman? Would I ever see the top again?

Which brings us up to today. I picked a sunny day. Not too hot. Not too cold. No chance of rain. Snow should all have melted away weeks ago. How could I fail. This is Dickerman, I could always find a way to fail.  I made sure I brought along enough equipment. I was on the trail by 9:00 am. There is only one log down across the trail. There is no mud. There was enough breeze to keep any bugs at bay. It was almost perfect.

I should have gone slow to make sure I didn't sprain an ankle. No more failures allowed. Instead I headed up fast. At least fast for me. There were no flowers down low but far more than I expected up higher. Tiger lilies, columbine, lupine, paintbrush, and aster were among them. The huckleberries are nowhere near ripe. Mostly still green. It will be another month at least. I passed 3 or 4 groups on the way up. Two hours and six minutes later I had that monkey off my back! Great views from the summit. Clouds were coming in but it was still mostly clear.

I forgot just how nice the view is. Baker had clouds at the very top but everything else was in the clear. I spent an hour and a quarter soaking up the scenery. The expected crowd began to arrive. At 12:20 I headed on down. The descent is 3800' of pounding but not really all that bad. 1:45 minutes later I was back at my car. Now I can head back to Dickerman after the first snow, fail, and at least the streak will be back at one in a row.

No Snow!
2' Of Snow?
Creek Crossing
Winter Route
Mt. Forgotten
Turn Around?
Stillaguamish Peak
Del Campo Peak
Big Four Mountain
Sperry & Vesper
Upper Slopes
Glacier Peak
Dome Peak
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2007