Mt. Ellinor

A three day weekend with a forecast for clouds and showers each day. What to do? Well, it turned out to be a very nice weekend but Bob, Kolleen, Suzanne, and David canceled a backpacking trip and settled on Mt. Ellinor instead. I had done Ellinor once before and had a great time with the long glissade on the winter route gully. I have still not done the real summer trail to the top but the winter route is such fun I'm sure I'll be back again.

I had done a total of 10 miles with 800' of elevation gain since spraining my knee four weeks earlier. It's not completely healed but was feeling much better. I chose to take a chance and tag along. I knew I would be slower but hoped to make the summit. We were out of Seattle at 7:00 AM and met Bob and Kolleen in Hoodsport and continued on to the near the trailhead.

I thought there would be a few other early parties on the mountain. I was surprised to see so many others. We made it to about a mile short of the summer route trailhead. There were more than half a dozen cars already there. We had to turn around and backtrack a short way to find parking. There were some large snow patches but most of the road to the trailhead was bare. Deeper snow started there. One lone Volvo made it to the lower trailhead.

The trail started off on dirt. We would our way up the ridge. There was one good sized blow down that we had to work our way around. Otherwise the trail is in good condition. The forecast was for mostly cloudy with some showers but the sky was bright blue. We were down to shorts and short sleeves before too long. Snow began all at once and began to deepen. Traction was good as it was firm but not icy. We followed footprints up then lost them.

Here we had a discussion and then found diamonds on trees. Careful study put us back on track again. We had passed a trail sign pointing to the upper trailhead. Later we found another one up higher. At the summit or winter route signs we headed right and this brought us to the base of the chute. Our altimeter watches confirmed that it is about 1100' up the gully to the ridge top. We could see the tiny black dots of hikers climbing up the chute.

Much sun screen was applied as it was getting very warm. We headed up and I quickly fell behind. Four weeks off took it's toll on my conditioning. It should not have been that much work. Still, I kept up a consistent pace as the gully route steepened. All the other climbers had put in a very nice set of steps. They were solid and secure. On my previous visit the snow was much softer and we were post holing much of the way. This day it was much easier.

As I climbed the chute the views improved rapidly. Lake Cushman was now right below us. There were some clouds over the Cascades but few above us. As always photos of the steepness make it seem much more gentle than it is. With the good snow and an ice axe it was not a difficult climb to the ridge top though. The glissade track was not very deep and all the climbers kept out of it.

There was one spot where the glissade track came near to to a big exposed rock and we all kept that fact in mind for the descent. With a little less energy than normal and a sore knee I was very happy to top out on the ridge top. I could see the rest of the group about 10 minutes ahead of me. I recalled that there were two more short climbs to the summit. On the earlier visit we entered clouds right at the ridge top. Visibility was pretty minimal. We just followed footprints until we ran out of uphill. This time I could see the route up.

I could also see Mt. Washington and numerous other peaks of the Olympic Mountains. What a beautiful spot on a beautiful day. It managed to get batter higher up. I climbed up the next slope and then saw the summit. One more climb and I was on top. The views were spectacular. So much better than the time before. I could see Mt. Olympus and tried to remember if I had ever seen it from a summit. On Ellinor we had no views. On the Brothers and Buckhorn it was the same. This may well be the only time I have seen it from a summit.

It was well passed noon and I was more than ready for lunch. We were joined by 9 others on the top. I sure did not expect 14 climbers on the summit. With all the work done it was time to enjoy the descent. Ellinor is well known for that 1100' glissade. We had the two short ones before the big one. David hooked his camera onto his shoulder then his ice axe to take movies of the glissading. Here is the movie he uploaded .

The first two were fun though short. The big one was a blast. You can't see over the edge of the ridge so we just waited a few minutes between starts. Kolleen went first then Suzanne and then me. It was fast though soft enough to check speed when necessary. It took me about 4 minutes to descend. I had to stop a few times until the track cleared but for the most part it was just high speed fun. The stream of climbers were only a few feet away from the track. They seemed envious of our descent.

Once at the bottom it was just a slog through the snow and then back on dirt trail. The snow had softened considerably and was slicker than earlier. I also had a few post holes to deal with. Back at the lower trailhead we found five vehicles. Another bare spot farther down had more cars. It was in the mid 70s by the time we reached the cars. A lousy forecast turned out to be a terrific day in the mountains.

I had great company and very nice snow conditions for this trip. It was much more crowded than I expected but on the other hand those folks did all the work of kicking the steps. I guess I should not complain. It was a great summit was views I did not see the time before. The glissade was just as much fun as I remembered. I'm sure I will be back for that glissade in a year of two.

Photos from the others can be found here: Nwhikers Report & Photos

Road Walk
Mt. Washington
Lower Trailead
Start Of Trail
Onto Snow
Summer/Winter Signs
On To The Chute
First Look At Chute
Starting Up Chute
Lake Cushman
Glissade Track
Big Rock
Getting Closer
Gentler Grade
Long Way Down
Last Push
Better Cushman View
Second Climb Ahead
Summit In Sight
Second Landing
View West
Puffy Clouds
More Views
Twin Spires
Mt. Olympus
Mt. Washington
Ready For Glissading
Here Comes David
Bob Slides By
Top Of The Chute
Mountain Goat
Bottom Of Chute
Ellinor Summit
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008