Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - Arthur Peak

As Charles Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”, just like this trip to Arthur Peak. A morning with perfect cold/dry conditions, followed by an afternoon of very wet type two fun.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Brought micro-spikes and snowshoes, but only used the micro-spikes on descent.  The afternoon warming trend made conditions particularly hazardous with rain turning the previously puffy/light snow into a slushy mess (especially when overlaying mossy rock).   In spite of impressively sized balls of ice/snow on the bottoms of our micro-spikes it seemed like the extra traction was worth the intermittent ice-axe tapping to make them fall off.  Added enjoyment was provided by schlepping our snowshoes the entire day ‘just-in-case’ they were needed near the summit (they weren’t ;).

An ominous forecast complicated the venue choice for this trip, along with the one-boat operations on so many of the cross sound ferry routes. A deciding factor was Arthur’s morning snow level of ~2000’ (just above our cars) rising to ~4000’ in the afternoon (along with high winds from the south and much precipitation).  The mitigating reasoning was as follows: we’d be comfortable on the way up (an oxymoron?), protected from the winds by the summit mass, and headed home when wet (soon back at the cars).

As we headed out from the cars at 7am (the Carbon River entrance) the conditions were great (calm and cold with no precipitation).


(By Jesse Bengtsson)

After leaving the Green Lake trail at ~3100’, we angled NW, then SW to gain Arthur’s NNE ridge crest at ~3800’.  Cold temperatures allowed us to make good time with light fluffy snow on the ground all the way up the ridge.  Only light snowfall at the talus clearing just below the summit (still cold)…


(By Jesse Bengtsson)

… but with ankle twisting voids between the boulders for the unwary.


(By Jesse Bengtsson)

We were soon on the summit, albeit with very high gusting winds (to ~30 mph, maybe higher) and sideways snow (you can see a video here).


Almost immediately after starting our descent (~12:30pm) conditions became much warmer with precipitation progressing from snow, wet snow,  rain, then to very heavy rain (yum ;) all the way to the cars.  It required a concerted effort to take our time on the steep/slippery/snow covered cross country terrain (to minimize inadvertent slips).  We appreciated our helmets on several steep sections, as well as for their insulating properties (we could feel the cold rain water relentlessly propagating through our various layers).

After rejoining the trail we really picked up the pace (I wonder why ;) with umbrellas replacing ice axes for the third of us fortunate enough to have brought them.  As we boogied homeward discussions drifted between the hazards of hypothermia, our remaining emergency gear (hopefully still dry), how long the emergency gear would stay dry (should we put them on), and the hot showers waiting at home.  As luck (or preparation with plastic trash bags) would have it, we retroactively discovered (at home) that our respective emergency gear (including our party’s sole synthetic sleeping bag) had stayed dry.

A great? day in the mountains with both type I and type II fun.  Averaging 5 stars for the morning, and 1 star for the wet exit, I’m going with 3 stars overall.  Our total time was just under 10 hours, spread equally between the ascent and descent.  Photos from this (and other trips) to this venue can be seen here.