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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Barnes Creek to Aurora Peak Traverse

A gorgeous/strenuous scramble on remote ridges returning to wilderness, burgeoning with indigenous plant life. Rare glimpses of the heart of the Olympics with pristine valleys and the Olympus Snow Dome.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The Barnes Creek bridge is in.  Very brief snow patches (will be gone soon) near the tarns just north and below the Happy Lake ridge crest. Our traverse west on the Happy Lake ridge was half faint trail, and half honest scrambling, so this summer time route/place should definitely be a scramble S5 & T1-2 (owing to the navigational complexities of finding the easiest line, avoiding krummholz to make good time, and rediscovering what remains of the fading trail).

A gorgeous/strenuous scramble on remote ridges returning to wilderness, burgeoning with indigenous plant life. Rare glimpses of the heart of the Olympics with pristine valleys and the Olympus Snow Dome.  After placing 2 shuttle cars at our return trailhead (~2.6 miles west of Storm King Ranger Station turnout from highway 101) we headed out just before 10am (a Saturday trip is recommended allowing an earlier ferry and less return ferry contention in the evening). Crowds quickly faded as we headed up Barnes Creek, and after a few miles we saw no other parties for the entire day. Our traverse west on the Happy Lake ridge was half faint trail, and half honest scrambling, so this summer time route/place should definitely be a scramble S5 & T2-3 (owing to the navigational complexities of finding the easiest line, avoiding krummholz to make good time, and rediscovering what remains of the fading trail). A party size of 5 is recommended to simplify keeping the party together, affording a 2 car shuttle, and provide a more remote experience consistent with this venue. Although the ridge is mostly wooded, there were a number of beautiful meadows with breath taking vistas. A consistent trail returned a bit W of Aurora Peak, and the steep Aurora Creek Trail allowed a quick 1.5 hour descent to our cars at the Lake Crescent lakeshore. The total trip time was just under 9 hours for the ~17 miles and 5000' of elevation gain. My photos can be seen here.

 

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Tess Wendel
Tess Wendel says:
Mon, Jul 17, 2017 12:39 PM

Nice!