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Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - Cowlitz Gap & Rocks (winter)

Successful trip. Great conditions. 6 hrs car to car.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

We had a party size of 10 ranging in experience from climb leaders to recent grads. We drove up to Paradise from Longmire at 9am.  The road just opened for the first time this year and was in excellent condition, only 1-2 black ice patches so made good time to Paradise.  We had boots walking by 10:00.   Weather was sunny and felt much warmer than the forecast with little to no wind at Paradise.  We walked the road down to where we go offroad and donned snowshoes as we left the road and started up to Von Trump.  The route avoids avy slopes besides the last bit to the summit, but did see old avalance evidence (from December's storms?) coming off the west side on the route going thru the valley just before the climb up to the gap started.   Most of the snow was 2-4 inches deep as we walked on it, so easy snowshoeing up.  Without wind and getting solid sun, we stripped down to t-shirts as it was hot despite the forecast saying it would be in the upper 20s.  

We decided to take the west slope up (vs. the NW ridge) as the snow wasn't deep.   Due to the wind the day before, the final slope was wind scoured and iced and we had to change to crampons to gain the summit. As usual, huge cornices on the east side of Cowlitz, so made care no one went past the rocks on the summit.  Slightly cooler and just a hint of wind on the summit and we took a summit shot and then headed back down to the plateau to switch back to snowshoes.  Despite some skiers below, no one else made it out that far today so we had the place to ourselves.  Leaving there at 2pm, we easily made it back to the parking by 4pm giving us a comfortable time to get down before the Longmire gate closed for the day.  My gpx tracking says it was 7.6 miles and 2350 feet gain.  The snowshoeing was easy in the conditions, but folks should be comfortable using crampons for the final approach.