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Kendall: Knobs, Lakes & Loops

Seattle Branch Intermediate Snowshoe to Kendall Peak Lakes, March 5. Trip originally scheduled for Artist Point but rerouted due to NWAC forecast of Considerable avy risk at and above treeline for entire state, especially on north facing aspects which includes much of the route to Artist Point. Kendall Peak Lakes was chosen because it lies entirely below treeline, where the NWAC forecast was Moderate, and because it was one of the few areas whose forecast did not include significant rain. One participant cancelled due to the reroute, leaving us a party of 11.

Conditions were warm with blue skies most of the day. Given that solar loading was one of the day’s avy problems we took the avy-conservative route along the road until the point at which the summer trail forks off the road at 4100’. By this point we had judged the snow to be stable and went off road to ascend to the area of First Lake at 4380’. Much of the off-road route ascended steeply, and the entire group took turns route finding and breaking trail. This and a second short but steep ascent to the 4480’ trip high point slightly East of the Second Lake put the technical aspect of this trip clearly in the Intermediate level, thereby ensuring this trip qualifies for Backcountry Snowshoe credit, an important secondary objective of the trip because for several participants this was their “graduation” trip for Seattle Backcountry Snowshoe course.

We had lunch atop a knoll on the SE shore of Second Lake, treated to full blue skies, warm temperatures, and calm air.

Some members of our party were uncomfortable descending down our steep ascent route, so we opted for a more gradual descent down the entirety of the FS road. We made a few attempts to quicken our descent by cutting some of the larger upper switchbacks but were turned back each time by terrain obstacles, and eventually we resigned ourselves to the slow descent of the road, but added spice by pretending that various incoming dogs were really bears.

The upper section of the road includes a switchback from about 4100’ to 4200’ that passes under a small but steep slope. Along this route we saw evidence of several recent small (R1 D1) loose wet slides on the SW-facing slope immediately above the road. Future trip leaders may want to avoid this section of the road on days when SW-facing slopes are a concern, including sunny afternoons when snow conditions are such that solar loading can be a problem. (This may be the same problem area mentioned in Manisha Power’s report of Jan 26, 2015.)

Approx round trip stats: 8 miles, 1800ft gain, 5.5 hours.

 

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