Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - Mount Ararat

A fun mellow Friday snow outing with a fantastic weather

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Mostly bare ground until 4700 or so, more ice on the trail past that requiring some traction, consistent snow past 4900, deep enough to require snowshoes sometime past 5000. Snow moslty frozen in the morning, softening in sunny spots near the summit. Occasional pinwheels spotted at the steep Southern slopes before the summit.

This was a mellow scramble on a day of what was guaranteed to be nice weather. Dry, calm, sunny blue skies, with temperatures slightly below freezing, around 26-29F throughout the day. Just what the doctor ordered.

I was slightly worried that my wooden calves after a Thursday hike would slow me down, but as it turned out, many of the participants had too many drinks with their Thanksgiving dinner, so most of us were handicapped in one way or other.

We met at Kautz Creek trailhead shortly before 8:30am. As expected, the ground at the base was frozen, but bare. While icy and slippery in places, it didn't initially require traction. We started at a brisk pace of about 1300 feet/hour.

Enjoying the frozen landscapes:



Took a break after an hour or so, still on bare ground. Having encountered consistent snow at around 4000 feet the day before, I was expecting the same on this route, but the bare ground would extend further up the trail. On occasion, we would see a patch or two, but few and far between.

The route we followed went up mostly by trail until right in fron the of Southern slopes of Ararat at around 5320 when we would veer off trail and do a clockwise scrambly circumnavigation. My terrain choice here was mostly dictated by wanting to minimize exposure to avy terrain, given the limited data available in the early season.

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Past about 4700 or so on the way up, icy snow patches on the trail would start to get tedious enough to want us to put traction on. We were all carrying crampons and showshoes, and initially opted to put on crampons. Consistent thick snow cover would begin shortly after, from around 4900. The snow was well-frozen, and we were able to initially walk without snowshoes without much postholing.

After a couple hundred feet, I think it may have been around 5200, we peeked out of the trees, the terrain opened up a little. We paused to put on sunscreen, and as the snow softened up there, we also transitioned to snowshoes at that time. Still on the trail.

The actual scramble section was pretty uneventful. We crossed one covered creek, passed through denser trees a couple times. Terrain was mostly mellow. Towards the end, we encountered a steeper slope, where we finally pulled out ice axes and put on helmets. We saw occasional pinwheels there on the steep South-facing slopes baking in the sun.

The actual summit is surrounded by trees, so we moved a bit further to bake in the full sun and get some views of Rainier:





Mandatory family picture at the top:


Some participants were initially not feeling confident and had reservations about descending the steep slope we took on the way up, but in the end, everyone managed with flying colors. The way down was pretty uneventful, and we made it back by sunset.

Back at the lot:


Overall, a very enjoyable outing and a good workout. Happy holidays!