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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Hibox Mountain

Successful summit, steep snow, some scree,and great rock

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trail in good shape.  Snow started at around 6200'.  Used microspikes but moved to crampons as it was hard under 2 inches of slush.  Once we got to the summit block we stayed close to the rock and there was a nice moat section we used rather than traverse the steep snow.  Once on the SE side of the block, we rock scrambled to the top- rock was good and had  a few exposed moves, but nothing too sketch. Sunny warm day (barely any wind)- snow softened on the way down so we could do kick steps better.  We found it easier to stay closer to the climbers trail below the summit block (versus traversing climbers right below the trail to stay on the snow) and do more on rock versus trying to stay on the snow.  

With our party of five, we carpooled from Issaquah and were at the trailhead and hiking at 8am.  The gravel road was in good shape getting the trailhead and only a 3-4 cars in total before us (probably hikers as we first up to Hibox that day).  Lower trail was uneventful- no bugs and only a few snow patches left on the trail.  Spring flowers were out and our party enjoyed the nature views along the entire trip.  We missed the "X" on the tree to mark the start of the climbers trail so it took us a few minutes to find the trail.  The climbers trail is exactly as described on the internet- steep and a few times easy to lose if you're not paying attention.  It's fun with sometimes using hands on roots and rocks to ascend and is not a particularly fast trail.   We kept a comfortable pace knowing we had a great sunny day (no risk of t-storms, etc.) and more than 12 hours of solid daylight.

There was no snow until around 6200 feet, where we started with microspikes but then changed over to crampons as the snow was slushy only on the top 2 inches and it was hard to get consistent purchase on the snow.  The snow through this section is steep with an undesirable round out and is also a traverse around the summit block so it was  a slow go.  We stayed on snow until we saw the climber's trail above us on a melted out section so we went to it but had to go up on 50-100' of really slick scree (read:more slow go).  The trail was good and led us up against the summit block where it goes climber's right and we either had to go back on another steep snow traverse or stay in a nice secure snow moat (ignoring the gully and going to the standard SE approach route).  We chose the snow moat which was good (we popped out again for a short snow section before getting to the start of the final rock section to the summit).  The rock section was true to form-  a couple of steep sections but the rock was grippy and always had good handholds to use- no snow or ice.  Barely any wind at the summit and had a nice comfortable 45 minutes lunch break at the top enjoying gorgeous views of Glacier Peak, Daniel, Stuart, and Rainier.  A few parties came up as well as we were leaving  (I think  it was around 4 groups in total for the day). 

The snow had softened up more in the sun as we descended and so didn't use traction on the snow (just a lot of ice axe belay) and we followed closer to the climber's trail and stayed on rock more which was faster than the snow.  The climbers trail is easier to see going down and uneventful.  A long, but rewarding day! Car to car was clocked at 10 hours (including our lunch break).