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Trip Report    

Spark Plug Mountain

  • Mon, Aug 25, 2014
  • Spark Plug Mountain
  • Scrambling

This Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 trip had a 7:00 AM show time.
Starting at the 2200' TH, our route followed the Surprise Creek Trail to 4508' Surprise Lake. We crossed the lake's outlet westward, then bushwhacked up the NE ridge through forest to the base of the talus at 5000'. From that point, 1.2 miles and 1300 vertical feet of Big Rocks stood between us and Spark Plug's summit.
But in a major navigational error, I turned us south too soon. Up a dead-end canyon, and atop a spur ridge at 5500' with a view of the upper mountain, the group decided to turn around*. It's big talus all the way! After lunch, I anchored our scramble rope and four of the participants used their harnesses, loops and 'biners for a protected ice ace dagger downclimb from the ridge over steep heather. Armando's GPS recorded 11.3 miles and 34,200+ feet of gain, although I question the second figure. 12 hours car-car included a Good Samaritan stop, a Conservation Northwest wildlife camera trap check, lunch and a swim.
Do this trip either with solid snow cover, or after the snow has completely melted. Because of the terrain, anything in between will be a disaster.
*Although we failed to reach the summit, our lone Scramble student gained and descended more than 1000' of challenging cross-country terrain, of which 500' was over steep, 3' - 15' talus blocks. She covered a lot more rock than one would on McClellan's Butte, or Teneriffe, or Hibox Mt, for example. In my view she earned credit for a Rock scramble on this trip.


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