Trip Report    

Intermediate Snowshoe - Lane Peak/Zipper

mixed climb turned snowshoe with a great crew

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Impassable creek at the base of Lane, 1-2 feet deep and multiple fallen tree trunks wide.

The original plan was to get to the base of Zipper, assess the conditions, and climb it if we deem it safe enough to do so. We were expecting to find a mixed climb in challenging and interesting conditions while chasing after the clock to make it back to the cars before the 4pm gate closing at Longmire...

...or at least give it our best shot and learn from the experience while enjoying a mellow snowshoe in a great scenery, and feeling the sense of accomplishment from getting our lazy butts outside on this otherwise rather unproductive weekend. And in that, we have certainly succeeded.

We parked at Narada Falls, hit the trail 10am, and set out at a good pace as a group of 4, knowing that time was not on our side on this climb. Followed ski tracks to the Stevens Canyon Road and along the road, then dropped into free bushwhack downslope at the turn. Made it down to the Tatoosh Creek at the base of Lane by just around 11am while breaking trail in soft powder all the way from the road. The snow was light, unconsolidated, laborious to plow through, and dodging the tree trunks on the way down required some care given the thin early-season snow cover.

We were aware of the creek crossing at the base of Lane, but none of the past trip reports, some as early as November, made a big deal out of it. This time clearly was different.

We had several GPX tracks loaded and attempted crossing at every  point followed by a past party, as well as a few that seemed promising just by eyeballing.

We found the creek to be surprisingly wide. A couple of tree trunks would be crossable au cheval, but would only lead to a snow island in the middle of the creek (or perhaps we should rather call it a swamp, as it lacked a clearly defined boundary), escaping off of which to get to the other side would prove impossible. The creek was about 1-2 feet deep in most places.

Steve getting back from exploring one promising-looking snow island that unfortunately turned out to be a dead end:


We have spent about 1.5 hours probing various angles of attack. By midway through that, it was clear that we already blew our tight time window to climb Lane, so our priorities shifted into exploring the terrain and  finding the secret passage that would ensure success on the follow-up attempt a couple of weeks later.

We never did find the secret passage, but at least we made a maze of bootpacks all over the place to confuse the next party.

As noted, the creek lacked a definite  edge, and a couple of times we found ourselves crossing snow saturated with water. One of us postholed into that and ended up with water in his boot. Oops.

In the current conditions, Lane is not doable as a climb. The creek needs at least few more feet of snow to form strong enough snow bridges to make it crossable. Walking around the creek is not an option given that it surrounds the peak. And even if it were, it would take too long. We were back to the gate at Longmire by 2pm. The climb itself, including the descent, would have taken us about 3 hours. This does not leave any margin  for negotiating terrain obstacles on the approach.

All in all, it is a beautiful area, and we had a good time. We got to see Lane upclose from multiple angles, and we get to stay excited about climbing it. We'll be back in a month or two.

Gear notes: 4 x 10cm screws, a set of DMM offset nuts, three X4 cams, 2 pickets, 70m dry rope, and a pair of Nomics with dry picks. Got to use all of it for ballast.