Teanaway & Tarzan Buttes

In just over 20 years of hiking throughout the Teanaway River Valleys I have made it to the top of just about every named peak and most unnamed ones. One that I had never visited was Teanaway Butte. In the summer it's a road walk and a short one at that. In the winter it's a good ski trip via the Middle Fork Teanaway Road. Until the last half dozen years or so the North Fork Road was only plowed as as far as Lick Creek. That left a long snowmobile used road to the top. Now that the NF Road is plowed to 29 Pines it is a very reasonable snowshoe or ski trip. Matt did an interesting trip last year up Teanaway Butte and along the ridge to Tarzan Butte before dropping back down to 29 Pines. I was interested in giving it a try.

The last two weeks we had been following trips Matt had trip reported to lookouts or lookout sites. First was Red Top then Evergreen and now Teanaway Butte. After this trip we'll have to go back to planning our own trips. It was just going to be Suzanne, Barry, and I on this trip. The night before, Joe expressed interest then David and lastly Bob and Kolleen felt Silver Peak had too much avalanche danger and they asked about our trip. Three morphed into seven of us.

We all met at the end of plowing on the NF Teanaway Road at 29 Pines campgrounds at 8:45 AM. It was a brisk 25 degrees as we got ready to begin. The blue sky promised great views and warmer weather coming. We immediately went left on the Jungle Creek Road and crossed the Teanaway River. Almost immediately we came to another junction. Left on the Rye Creek Road were many snowmobile tracks. Right on the Jungle Creek Road there were none. This road is a skier and snowshoer only road. The road was not icy but the snow was firm. We kept our snowshoes on our backs. In fact, all the way around our loop we did not use our snowshoes.

We had Matt's GPS route and both David and Joe had entered routes in their GPSs. Along with maps we were set for the off road sections. The group set a very fast pace and it was hard to take many photos. Thirty seconds to snap a shot and everyone else was out of sight. We stopped for a a break after 70 minutes and had traveled 3 miles. Not bad on snow. The start was at about 2600'. The summit of Teanaway Butte is 4769'. It's about 5 1/2 miles up and most of the elevation gain is in the last mile.

We followed the nearly flat road which finally began to ascend gently. I looked but did not see either of the trailheads we passed. The road took a sharp left turn towards Liar's Prairie and soon after we made our exit. We headed off the right side of the road through forest. A gentle grade soon gave way to steeper slopes as we began to ascend in earnest. The snow was firm and even a little too hard in places.

Barry was kicking steps and they were better the farther back one was. We angled right to a ridge and followed it up. We left the road near 3500' and reached the false summit at about 4500'. The wind was blowing here and the forecast for 15 mph winds left us thinking about a short summit stay. From the false summit the route drops a little then makes a short steep climb to the true summit. There was a glissade trench with some fresh snow on the ridge up. It was frozen solid and we tended to stay off to the right to get some better traction. Barry and I went out ahead near the top.

We reached the top before noon. It took us about 3 hours to cover over 5 1/2 miles. Not bad at all for all snow travel. The views were much better than I was expecting. At less than 4800' there were many taller peaks around us. Still, we could see Mt. Rainier to the west and Many dozens of other peaks all around. Mt. Stuart was completely cloudless. Yellow Hill was across the Middle Fork Teanaway Valley. That ridge led on to Jolly Mountain. I could see Koppen, Hawkins, Fortune, Ingalls, Iron, Teanaway, Earl, Navaho, Three Brothers, and Miller Peaks clearly. Nearly all peaks that I have stoop atop at one time over the years.

Surprisingly, the wind was very gentle on the summit. We took time to enjoy the views and have part of our lunches. All too soon it was time to head on. The easy route would be just to follow our tracks back. This group is seldom up for easy when there is a bit of adventure to be had. We retraced our steps to the false summit and took a look at Tarzan Butte. Our route out would be nearly a straight line over the butte and back to the Jungle Creek Road very near the start.

We began by following a road to our right. This made for a fast descent. The road turned more toward Tarzan Butte and we continued on it. When it no longer went where we desired we left it and headed into open forest. There were trees but some meadows as well. We stopped several times to try to figure out just where we wanted to ascend Tarzan Butte. There was a ridge on the left and one on the right. Our route was something less than a straight line as we wove our way closer.

I thought Matt's route looked to be on the left but when we reached the 3500' level we were not at a low saddle. Instead the route dropped very steeply to our left. We chose to head right. We picked up some old snowshoe tracks here. After a little more descent we did reach a low point and the route headed up Tarzan. This in fact was very close to Matt's route. Things sometimes don't look the same standing in a forest with a map as they do at home looking at the same map.

The snow was a little hard in places on the ascent. I would not have minded my aluminum crampons at times. It was never overly steep though and kicking steps worked just fine. I took more photos here and Barry, Suzanne, Bob, and Kolleen moved out ahead. David and Joe were just a little behind me. We had about 850' of gain to the 4385' summit of the butte. Part way up I looked behind and had a very nice view back to Teanaway Butte. I was down to short sleeves and was still sweating as I neared the summit. The top is forested and while we had a few peek a boo views they were not much. We finished off most of the rest of our food on top.

From here we had a steep descent then a pretty gentle grade back out.  At first the route was very steep. If it was icy this would be crampons only. Instead the snow softened rapidly as we dropped. Forest gave way to open slopes and we had no trouble at all plunge stepping down the slope. A few of us even had a couple glissades. Slow but glissades none the less.

At the bottom we found the logging road just as hoped and had an easy route out. Still, by the time we reached the Jungle Creek Road I wa plenty tired. From there it was a short hike to the cars. We heard a few snowmobiles at the start but never did see any. The sleds were gone by the time we returned at 3:30. We did find Randy, Mike Collins, and Justus S waiting for Eric to return from their trip. They had a little more ambitious trip than us.

For the day we covered just over 11 miles per the GPS units and gained some 3400'. It was a good work out and with a good pace it only took 6 1/2 hours. It looks like I'm done hitting new Teanaway Peaks though I am far from done hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing the area. It was a good group, great weather, firm snow, and better than expected views. All in all a great early spring day in the mountains. On our drive home we found that there was avalanche control work being done west of Snoqualmie Pass and we ended up sitting for over an hour and a quarter along Lake Keechelus. No early return this day but a minor inconvenience on an otherwise nearly perfect day.

Suzanne's trip report is here:   Nwhikers Report & Photos

Teanaway River
Jungle Creek Road
Off Road
Starting Up
More Up
First View Of Stuart
Mt. Rainier
Summit Ridge
Koppen, Fortune, Ingalls
Stuart & Iron
Earl, 3 Brothers, Navaho
Group On Summit
Jolly Mountain
Yellow Hill
Heading Down
Hawkins Mountain
Old Snag
On A Road
Tarzan Butte
Earl Peak
Snowmobile Track
Heading Up Tarzan
Teanaway Butte
Tarzan Summit
Tarzan Descent
On Old Road
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008