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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Red Mountain (Commonwealth Basin)

Moderately steep snow scramble on a sunny spring day. Five students worked hard to get snow scramble credit

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The Kendall Katwalk/PCT trailhead is still covered in snow so we parked at Summit West ski area

    The entire route within the Commonwealth Basin is covered in snow.  There is plenty of snow along the NW face with just a few rock patches visible.

Since the nearby peaks of Guye, Snoqualmie, Denny, and Kendall all had snow scrambles scheduled, I decided I would lead an exploratory trip up Red Mountain as a group of 9 including 5 students who needed snow credit for their scrambling courses.

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Met at Summit West parking lot at 7:30 and we were on the trail at 7:50.  We followed scrambler Xiulan Hu's track from her trip two days prior.  The route along the Commonwealth Basin had sufficiently firm snow but not icy.  A few of the scramblers used Microspikes, but it really was not necessary.  We continued along the west side of Commonwealth Creek up to 4,160 and then turned east, crossing the snow covered west fork of the creek and then up the northwest face of Red Mountain. 

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The NW side of Red  is pretty steep, but the snow was soft enough where we got good kick steps in.  We just headed straight up the mountain occasionally using a self belay.  We slowly made our way to the top where we enjoyed terrific views of the mountains around us.

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Coming down was a bit of an adventure.  I tried to glissade, but even in the softening snow, the mountain was too steep to continue safely.  So, we plunge stepped our way back to the base of the mountain.  Some of scramblers needed to self belay coming down in sections due to steepness.  Around the 4,600 ft level, we did find a chute where we could glissade back down towards the upper creek crossing.

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From there it was an easy walk out.  It was an 8.5 hour way car to car, about 7.7 miles round trip and 2,800 feet of elevation gain.

This is probably a bit more on the challenging side for students, but it was a lot of fun.  Our group had a good time, used their snow travel skills, and we all made it back safely.  It was a good day.