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Trip Report    

Red Mountain (Commonwealth Basin)

April 9, 2016. Party of seven met at 7:15 am, summited at 12:45 (TH to summit: 5.50 hours), ate lunch basking in sunshine and views, enjoying the company of two snowboarders, one of whom was flying a quadcopter drone with go-pro camera to film the other. After they descended, we pulled on over-pants and glissaded down in the wake of the boarders. Left summit approx. 1:45-2:00 am and reached TH at 4:30 (Summit to TH: 2.50-2.75 hours; total time not counting extended breaks: 8 to 8.35 hours).
We took the old Commonwealth basin trail, which was of course buried under plenteous snow. A semi-compacted trail had been tromped much of the way in, but we got slightly off route toward the upper basin as boot-paths intertwined and diverged. After putting on snowshoes, we ended up below the south face of Red. Avalanche danger was moderate, with no observed signs of slumping of self-starting rollers but, as we were beginning to encounter the outer perimeter of debris cones being shed off the lower slopes of Kendall, we exited the branch of the drainage that comes off the S/SE aspect of Red in a NW-ly to gain onto the steep SW ridge of Red.
The soft snow was crisscrossed by rock outcroppings and hidden moats that we wove among. We removed snow shoes for the final thousand feet of gain or so, merging with the boot tracks of the snowboarders for the last few hundred feet, while watching a solo skier skillfully descend and then hearing the buzz of the quadcopter as we tagged the summit, staying well back from the cornices projecting over the NE aspect of the summit ridge.
We descended the west face of the peak. The snow was soft but stable enough for glissading. We put snowshoes back on as we reached the creek bottom near the head of the Commonwealth drainage. Using some guidance from GPS, we regained the main boot/snowshoe path heading out the basin and regained the cars without issue.
The PCT/Commonwealth TH is not plowed out yet, but a wide spot has been plowed out along the Alpental road opposite the entrance to the TH. We hung tags just in case, and the cars remained unmolested during the day. Likewise, the FS outhouse at the end of the lower TH parking lot is too buried in snow to be serviced or used, so various trip members made use of the WSDOT facilities at Travelers' Rest.
If we don't get too much additional snow, the snowpack should continue to settle down and Red should be an inviting snow scramble destination on into May.