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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mount Catherine

A very enjoyable scramble on a nice day with good views. Students did well with challenging conditions (lots of unconsolidated snow on steep terrain).

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • There was enough fresh snow that even where the slopes had been groomed, we couldn't find a very good place to practice self-arrest.  Travel on the groomed roads wasn't bad, but the west ridge of Catherine had a mixture of unconsolidated snow and icy sections that slowed us down quite a bit.

We hiked up toward Mt. Hyak a few hundred vertical feet to try to do some self=arrest practice with less than ideal snow conditions, then practiced climbing in balance with switchback turns.  Then we looped around Mt. Hyak on the snow-covered road, taking the appropriate junctions to get across Mill Creek.  At that point we made the mistake of following earlier tracks that led up slope too soon which resulted in more strenuous sidehilling to get around to the west ridge than was necessary.  The west ridge itself was awkward in snowshoes, alternating between unconsolidated and icy snow; on the way down, we took the snowshoes off in the icier sections, but it was pretty easy to kick steps through the crust.  On the way back, we overcompensated for the navigational mistake we made on the way up, which resulted in a little more distance than necessary.  Students did very well on a trip with more difficult conditions than I was expecting.  It wound up being almost 11 hours car-to-car.

Weather was good.  It snowed on us a little bit, but it was sunny on the summit with decent views that improved later in the afternoon, especially across to Snoqualmie, Chikamin, etc.