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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Who Knows?? - Mt. Sahale Climb

As one of the last main tests and challenges of our preparation for Mt. Rainier, we did a glacier climb of the Quien Sabe glacier on Mt. Sahale.   Mt. Sahale is located in the heart of cascade pass and nestle among some of the most beautiful and spactacular mountains in the North Cascades. The North Cascades is probably the most covetet mountaineering destination in the lower 48.  It doesn't have the same grandeuar as Mt. Rainier, but I would personally consider it an all around more magical place.   In my 6 years of mountaineering and leading trips I had been to the north cascades dozens of times, but never climb Mt. Sahale, so this was exciting to take the group up here.  

After settling in for the night at the trailhead, we watched the low clouds and fog settle in around us.  We left under much the same conditions at 5am.  The climbers trail follows a steep route through underbrush, and over snow melt drainage creeks.  It took about 6 hours to reach the upper basin.  By this time the fog had finally cleared, but huge fluffy clouds were threating from behind and looked poised to engulph us. 
At this point we roped up and went over some last minute details before ascending the glacier.  The views in the basin were spectacular as we watched the sunrise over the ridge and the crystal clear sky all around us.  At this point the clouds dispersed in various directions.

We ascended the glacier for the next 3 hours and covered over 2500' of gain.  This brought us to the summit ridge.  Having never been there before, I wasn't completely sure how to navigate the summit block.   After hearing some beta about the summit pinnacle, We made the decision to leave the summit for another day because the team wasn't equipped for the rappelling and additional mountaineering skills, which won't be necessary on Mt. Rainier.    We took our summit shot from the top and headed down.  At this point the clouds had rolled back in and we leaft the summit under complete white out. 

About a 1000' lower down the clouds again cleared and we were treated to more spectacular views on the way out.   This was certainly a challenging day with 5500' of gain in one day and for many, their first experience on glaciers navigating large crevasse fields.
With this last challenges every seems confident and ready for Mt. Rainier.

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