Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Grindstone, Snowgrass, Ladies & Cape Horn

Fabulous fall colors and gorgeous scrambling.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Xiaoli, Craig and I left from Chatter Creek Trailhead at 8:20am feeling slightly dismayed at theIMG_0671.jpg amount of smoke in the air (as none had been forecasted). Nonetheless we made fast progress along the trail up to the saddle which we reached at 11:30am in an attempt to beat the predicted afternoon rain. Gorgeous fall colors but the smoke was in full force, we couldn't see Cashmere at all in the distance.

We ate a few bites, stashed our overnight gear, and headed off to Grindstone, dropping off the South side of the saddle, traversing the bowl and then up and over the notch (check Sue Shih's excellent trip report for navigational details). It started raining soon after we left the saddle and we didn't IMG_0672.jpglook forward to going across the heather on the other side of the notch, but it wasn't actually that bad with poles. Lots of places to step on dirt. But gaiters recommended, plenty of brush to soak if it is at all wet. We hit the summit at 1:20pm, pressed our noses to the top, and then got the heck out of dodge as it was raining steadily and we were soaked. We found an alternate route down through a gulley instead of the slabs we went up , very choose your own adventure. IMG_0684.jpg

It luckily stopped raining briefly when we got back to our stashed gear, we repacked our packs and headed to Lake Edna on the trail (and took a LOT of IMG_0689.jpgpictures of a baby marmot on the way). It once again stopped raining briefly when we arrived at 4:30pm and we threw up our tents in an established campsite protected by a few trees. We quickly pumped water and started making dinner, at which point the rains and winds and clouds came down hard. After quickly eating our food we were in our tents at 6:30 for a wild ride of a night...I wasn't sure my tent would be standing but luckily it survived the winds and rains.

The next morning the winds remained but luckily the rain cleared away all the smoke and then IMG_0716.jpg departed itself so we were left with a stunningly brilliant day. We were on the trail 7am and quickly made our way to Ladies Pass by 7:45am. We followed Gimpilator's Summitpost route to Snowgrass, continuing up the ridge off trail toward Ladies and then at about 6900 ft dropping down to the East to traverse IMG_7403.JPGacross miles. Miles. Of Talus. Okay it wasn't miles, but on talus it felt like it. And okay, there was also some vegetation and boulders.The traversing was perfectly fine around 6800' of elevation for about a half mile, then gradually working our way up toward the summit. But a gorgeous day! We hit the summit at 10:20am and relaxed for a half hour for first lunch.

We retraced our steps most of the way back to the ridge above ladies pass where we had dropped down but then decided to try to work our way up to the ridge a bit higher up to try to cut off a bit ofIMG_0740.jpg backtracking. It became steeper than it looked from below and demanded careful stepping and boot edging but we made it to the ridge just fine and headed up towards Ladies (very straightforward class 2, head up the ridge). We were on top of Ladies at 2pm, had second lunch, then picked our way down (careful to accidentally wander off the wrong side of the ridge, oops).

IMG_7479.JPGWe descended to the trail, enjoyed the spectacular views, colors and easygoing terrain and after regaining Ladies Pass at about 2:45pm headed to the top of Cape Horn, it may be a scramble but there is basically a path the whole (short) way. The orange and red blueberry bushes contrasted with the sky and took our minds off tiring muscles. We hit the summit at 3:00, took a few pics, then headed back to pack up camp.

Back in camp at 3:30, packed to go by 4:30 and made it back to the trailhead (after taking moreIMG_0752.jpg photographs of the baby marmot) at about 7:30pm (it gets dark early!!). 

Maybe the most beautiful part of the state? No crowds. Highly recommend! Bring blue bags!