Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Cowlitz Gap & Rocks (winter)

Excellent snow scramble with the Rocks thrown in for variety. A lucky window of decent weather before the rain began during our descent.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Walked down Paradise Road to several yards past fourth crossing and headed up on snow.  There were signs of old, mostly washed away tracks, but I and others used gps to keep us on route.  The snow was soft and good for booting.  We had opted to leave our snowshoes in the cars, and fortunately never needed them.  The snow got softer the higher we went.  We made our own tracks the whole way, but didn't sink in more than three or four inches.  Coming back, it was much softer but still very doable without snowshoes.  We went up the rocks on a traverse from the gap, no snow or ice.  The rocks are very loose and unstable, much care is needed both up and down.

No other parties were on our route, we were truly and wonderfully alone.  Except for the marmots!  We spotted several marmots apparently just coming out of hibernation as they seemed to be relaxing and lazy.  We traveled in and out of fog/cloud, high clouds allowed brief glimpses of blue sky, Little Tahoma.  The gap was windy and cold, but for the most part, temps were not bad.  A bit of white-out on the upper slopes.  Then the Tatoosh peaks were in full view on our trip down, as well as Mts. Adams and St. Helens.  Light rain began around 6500' during our descent and increased by the time we got to Paradise.

We all had crampons, but did not need them.  We did carry ice axes on the rock traverse in case we came across snow that was not visible from the gap.  Everyone in the group wore a helmet on the rocks.  This trip was a fun adventure with snow scrambling, rock scrambling, and route finding all thrown in.  Round trip time about 8 hours including breaks, marmot watching, photo ops, lunch.