Abiel Peak is a fun scrambling peak off of I-90. I attempted this two ways – once in a failed attempt to see if we could finish an unusual route from Annette Lake, and one the easy way from the PCT.
Abiel from Annette Lake – The Hard Way (Sep 12)
On an overnight camping trip at the lake, a friend and I tried to scramble up the rugged, tree covered west ridge of Abiel by gaining a saddle in a talus-filled ravine southwest of the lake. We ambled around to the southwest edge of the lake, left the trail, and travelled on open talus to the steep treeline at the westerly of two saddle points on the ridge. This one looked more open and less forested than the east saddle point, but it turned out to be a bad move. The terrain was steep, loose dirt with very few hand and footholds. We found it too dangerous to continue and turned around. I bet the more easterly saddle marked on the map would go but we haven’t tried it; nonetheless, it was a fun adventure.
With a beautiful sunny weekend ahead, Ryan and I set out to do some spring snow climbing and chose a prominent summit in the Snoqualmie Pass area, Kaleetan Peak (meaning “Arrow” in the Chinook language). With the shockingly low snowpack this year, we weren’t exactly sure what sort of conditions we would encounter.
We opted for a lazy alpine start of 6am leaving from the Denny Creek trailhead in order to minimize the already-small risk of wet loose avalanches on the descent (in warm afternoon conditions, “solar” aspects can often become destabilized).
Our plan was to ascend the peak via an East facing couloir to access the normal scrambling route from there to the summit. We packed for non-technical snow climbing including ice axe and crampons, both of which turned out to be essential on this route in these conditions.
The Denny Creek trail to the pass is very pleasant – dense forest, waterfalls, and nice views down the valley as the trail gradually gains elevation to Hemlock Pass..
Intermittent ice and snow can be found just below Hemlock Pass but it should be gone fairly soon. Arriving at Melakwa Lake early in the morning, the air was cool enough to break out the gloves as we admired the thin glaze of ice on the water from the freeze the night before – a good sign that snow conditions would be nice and consolidated on the path ahead. Continue reading Kaleetan Peak→