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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Lichtenberg Mountain

Scramble to Lichtenberg via the NE ridge, dropping just below the summit traversing to the saddle on the SE ridge for our final approach.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • From the Smithbrook Trailhead, there's a creek crossing that is very manageable - we were able to scout two locations to cross over a log that felt secure for everyone.  It's a bushwhack through the forest to intersect with a fisherman's trail at ~4,400' (approaching NE ridge on the N side of Lichtenwasser Lake).  Snow becomes intermittent by ~4,600' and then consistent by ~4,800' throughout the NE ridgeline and in the traverse to the saddle on the SE ridgeline.  An ice axe for this route was definitely needed; it will likely be another couple weeks before the snow melts entirely. The SE ridgeline itself is snow-free in the final approach to the summit, though, there is an old cornice melting in the bowl - it did not pose a threat due to our weather conditions but is worth keeping an eye on in future trips.

Our group met at the Stevens Pass parking lot to discuss the trip and select our route, which was smart due to the mosquitoes swarming the Smithbrook Trailhead (we were considering the Valhalla Lake / SW face approach or the Lichtenwasser Lake / NE ridge approach or a loop - each find the saddle along the SE ridge for the final approach to the summit - and we chose the Lichtenwasser Lake / NE ridge).

Based on a WTA trip report from the day prior we were hopeful there would be little to no bugs but we found them immediately as we exited the cars and put on our packs (major disappointment - personally, I look like I have the chicken pox from the aftermath of the mosquitoes that laid siege to our Mountaineers troop).  As we were situating to embark we heard a woodpecker nearby, the tinny peck-peck-peck let us know to find it on the trailhead's sign -- it was a beautiful pileated (or red-breasted sapsucker) woodpecker sending out a call!  For a moment, we forgot about the bugs and enjoyed the finer beauties of wilderness life.

On our approach via the NE ridge, we had to cross a creek and were able to find at least two viable options slightly SW of the parking lot via two logs.  We then bushwhacked our way to a fisherman's trail on the N ridge leading to Lichtenwasser Lake.  We found the trail at nearly ~4,600' and promised to use it to our advantage on the return trip to avoid some of the steep bushwhacking we encountered on the way up (another, smart choice).  Snow was consistently found by ~4,800' and ice axes were pulled out by ~5,000'.  At this point, we lost a majority of the bugs (thank goodness).

The NE ridge is easiest followed by staying along the ridge; however (as we found) it can be circumvented here and there for some boulder / rock scrambling too!  At ~5,600' we traversed to the saddle along the SE ridge.  The overcast fog made our elevation gain to 5,600' and traverse seem much shorter than anyone expected.  For our final approach and last couple hundred feet of elevation gain we had to confront a steep slope and cornice above....given the gloomy weather we had all day, the lack of sun we weren't as concerned it would give way but still removed risk by heading straight-up, off to the side to avoid travel / approach directly underneath.  Once above, we could see  it actually has a moat it's slowly melting in to - while we made the right choice it was also a relief to know it wasn't as looming as we had once thought.  The ridge itself to the final summit was snow-free and the summit itself felt a bit lackluster after all the scrambling we'd done day-long.  There were no views to be seen except some less dense foggy spots but one another's company kept us cheery it was no matter.

On the return trip we largely followed our footprints back with the exception of keeping to the ridgeline a bit more sternly than we had in our scramble up - it made our movement a bit more swift and introduced us to a few new scramble maneuvers in / around areas that cliff'd out for a quick bit.

For as many bugs as we each encountered, there was rarely an audible complaint; our group did wonderfully and I'd be happy to re-visit on a  sunnier day to see what we see and perhaps take a swim once the lake is entirely snow-free.