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Cowlitz Gap & Rocks (winter)

Winter scramble (private) of Cowlitz Rocks

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • We were surprised to see park snow crews had cleared the Paradise Valley Road down to asphalt all the way to 4th Crossing. We walked there to the start of the route (to ascend Mazama Ridge) and found a huge snow bank blocking access.  After trying a few things and deciding it was unsafe to try to climb it, we looked around for some options --then asked the plow driver to create a ramp for us, which he obligingly did.  From there we followed the "100 peaks" route--up until the final ascent to "the col"  at which point we decided to simply ascend the slope directly to the summit.  (we were breaking trail the entire way. Fresh snow ranged in depth. ) The final ascent and descent up and down the slope we used crampons; ascending in snowshoes possible but descending would have been very dicey.  Large cornices on the east side of summit ridge were not as apparent at first with this direct approach but we expected them and stayed well back from them.  Crossing over the Paradise River was not an issue; snow very deep --but there are some areas where cavernous holes have been created so cautious routefinding is in order.

Paradise Road all the way to the parking lot was bare and wet.  (check gate closing times; initially we thought it was 9 pm but realized it was 6 pm.  (we were out in plenty of time).

We knew we had a weather window but based on forecast thought weather would move in after 5-6 pm.  It came in around 3-4pm so that as we were descending back to Mazama Ridge visibility was decreasing quickly and it started snowing.  Another reminder of how quickly things change. the only reason for the 4 rating was that our views got obscured !

 

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