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Arrowhead Mountain (winter)

Arrowhead Mountain (winter)

  • Thu, Jan 1, 2015
  • Arrowhead Mountain
  • Scrambling
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles

12/31/14 Brilliant bluebird day, but extremely cold, and much more strenuous than typical due to deep unconsolidated dry powder snow.

Parking was not the greatest – we parked on the shoulder of the S side of the highway, directly across from the DOT station and next to the Nason Creek bridge.

Temp was 9F at the start of the day, and reached a max of 20F at the summit, making it difficult to fit in food breaks before getting chilled.

Snowpack was low – only 3” deep at the start of the trip. Of this, the bottom 2 inches were hard crust, and top 1” was dry powder, making for strenuous ascending – ice axes were useful. (This snow also made for very strenuous descending at end of day – microspikes would have been handy.)

We followed the RR tracks E until reaching a creek outlet, then headed nearly straight S to ascend and gain the NE ridge at ~4,600’. At this point the powder was ~8” deep and snowshoes were needed.

From here we followed the standard route up the ridge, and the powder got increasingly deeper with elevation, reaching a depth of about 2’ towards the summit (made for extremely slow and strenuous ascent). Total ascent time was 4:15 hrs.

The summit had no wind, and at 20F was the warmest spot on the trip. The air was crystal clear and made for astounding views of the freshly snowed-upon peaks. We only stayed 20 min at the summit due to the amount of time spent on the ascent and impending darkness on this day, just a week after winter solstice.

Darkness fell upon us at 4:15pm, but that was OK, as the routefinding on the descent is straightforward (go straight downhill till you reach the RR tracks).

I would recommend for safety, if parking on the highway shoulder, and returning to the cars after dark, to have the party wait off-highway until the drivers reached their cars and re-parked at the DOT station. (In hindsight, unpacking at the cars on the highway shoulder in the dark was not the greatest scheme.)

 

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