Home > Trip Reports > March 17-19, Colonial Peak

March 17-19, Colonial Peak

Posted by sam18802 on 3/19/16 7:19am
As I sit on the Seattle-Bremerton ferry, it is both heartbreaking and exciting to write this trip report. Heartbreaking only in a sense that our immediate objective, climbing and riding Colonial Peak/Paul Bunyan's Stump, was not met. Exciting because I have learned from conditions and route planning what to prepare for next time. I set off from Bremerton after 4pm on Thursday afternoon and met up with Eve at the Pyramid Lake trail just after 9pm. To my utter surprise, there was already a car at the trailhead. Was someone else thinking about going for the same objective? Would we have a path to follow? The answer to both, I came to find, was  huge "No." The owner of the vehicle at the trailhead was doing the Isolation Traverse and there is absolutely no path to follow past Pyramid Lake, which I expected. Snow level began consistently after Eve and I camped near the lake from midnight to 4am, in hopes that a very early start Friday morning would increase chances of summiting and playing around in the Colonial Glacier area. We were met with route finding, extremely deep powder and post-holing waist deep in some places. It took the upwards of 6 hours to break above treeline onto the first Ridge, one of three that you must go up in order to claim Colonial. Our weather window was perfect; clear skies and unfortunately the only issue was the time necessary to achieve our goal. Popping above treeline just after 10am, we opted to take a break and skin the rest of the way. Varying snow conditions prohibited us from gaining the second Ridge with enormous overhanging cornices and inconsistent snowpack. We ultimately accepted defeat and set up camp on the Ridge and left our stuff behind in hopes that only an ice axe, camera and double plastics would lead us to the promise land. Two hours went by and we managed to gain the second Ridge and enjoyed beautiful views of the snowpack that I had dreamed of rejuvanitng the surrounding area. We ran out of time just before topping out on the final section of the Pyramid Ridgeline, physically exhausted from carting up skis, camping gear and glacier travel gear. Though this trip ended up without the epic line I had dreamed about, it was a great way to get an idea about conditions above 4,000 ft in the Cascades. Thing to do better next time:

Less weight! I think our biggest issue was roughly 55-60 lbs of gear alone for the hike in. Mostly because our objective originally was to tour Snowfield Peak first, which had a few unknown sections from past trip reports that may have been an issue without proper equipment. Colonial itself is a scramble and a very easy one at that; when I return it will either only be for snowboarding or only for climbing. Not both.

Descending the second Ridge

Good effort, it's great to see big goals, you'll get it next time!

Reply to this TR

2016-03-19 14:19:51