Some goofy middle fork peak, try #3 -- success!
Yana and I parked near the big bridge over the Middle Fork and headed up a trail that starts a hundred feet south of the bridge. The trail meets the Granite Creek Road-Trail where the road crosses the north ridge of Mailbox Peak. From there we followed the road to the cabin on point 5124, then we followed the NW ridge to the 4440'+ pass between point 5124 and 4642. (There is a road that goes directly to this pass, but it is very brushy and hard to follow.)
From the pass we followed a logging road into the Gifford Lakes valley. At the second switchback (the road's northern-most point at around 4000') we left the road and traversed north toward Little Comrade. While traversing we stayed as high as we could without getting into the rock. After skirting above a dense forest of vine maple on the SE side of Little Comrade, we started gaining elevation, scrambling up two steep sections of 3rd class gully/meadow. Soon we dropped 15 feet into a gully (Carla and I tried climbing this gully in 2007) and continued traversing. After some nasty brush, we passed a gully mostly hidden by trees, then 30 feet later arrived at a gully that started with a mossy, smooth, slabby dihedral (I scoped out this gully with Lindsay in 2008). This was at about 3,700' on the NE side of the peak above a cliff band.
We soon gave up on the dihedral gully and went back to climb the hidden gully. After 4000'+ of gain and six hours we were finally climbing the peak itself! We climbed the steep duff gully with lots of help from huckleberry bushes and our ice axes, this would be the pattern for the next few hours.
At the top of the gully we roped up and climbed rest of the route with a mixture of belays and simul. I've made roped ascents of rock and glacier routes, but never of a duff route. Weird.
We made a rising westward traverse along steep slopes that alternated from brush to bare duff with constant exposure to cliffs below. Eventually we traversed to a wide gully, it was the first one that drained into the Middle Fork instead of the Gifford Lakes. At this point we headed left up the gully to a small col, from the col we traversed left, then there were only a few difficult duff moves (the first place I ever used a three-finger moss pocket for a hold) until we were on a friendly, moderate slope that soon led to the summit.
There was no indication a previous ascent at the top. I commented, "This is probably a first ascent." To which Yana replied, "And probably the last ascent". I dubbed the peak "Little Comrade" and placed a summit register. Yana teased me for optimistically putting four pages in the register, "Do you really think it needs that many?"
I'll never climb it again, but I'm very happy to have finally succeeded on this summit!
approx. 6,169 feet
Middle Fork Snoqualmie Drainage
16 hours 39 minutes
49 minutes driving there from 65th St P&R to the bridge over the Middle Fork
3 hours 39 minutes ascending from the bridge over the Middle Fork to 4440'+ pass south of point 4642
2 hours 2 minutes descending from 4440'+ pass south of point 4642 to NE side of Little Comrade
3 hours 11 minutes ascending from NE side of Little Comrade to summit of Little Comrade
2 hours 16 minutes descending from summit of Little Comrade to NE side of Little Comrade
2 hours 2 minutes ascending from NE side of Little Comrade to 4440'+ pass south of point 4642
44 minutes descending from 4440'+ pass south of point 4642 to Cabin
2 hours 11 minutes descending from Cabin to the bridge over the Middle Fork
Si, Teneriffe, Green
Mount Defiance from Thompson Point 5124
Cabin on Thompson Point 5124
Little Comrade and Russian Butte
On the logging road in the Gifford Lakes valley
Summit of Little Comrade
Rapping down the duff gully
Really, we're not rapping down a trail
Scrambling on the east side of Little Comrade
Meadow on east side of Little Comrade
Russian Butte and Little Comrade
Back at the cabin!
Only a couple more hours of hiking before the car
Copyright © 2004 Gabriel Deal.