Matthew Baldwin (false mullet), Adam Palmer (reality TV star), Kevin Longard (shock collar trigger owner), and yours truly (Encyclopedia Brown) set off for obscure Snazzy Peak on Saturday.
I'd never been to Snazzy before, or even up the Whatcom Trail for that matter, nor had Matt. Kevin had fished the Punch Bowl before. Adam had been up Snass around 5 years ago and found Snazzy to be quite desirable.
I had heard various things about Snazzy. There is little info online. Some said it was 5th class, others 3rd. The rock is sedimentary, which is almost always cause for concern around these parts, where even granite is sometimes crap. But Ed Klassen told me it was a "fun scramble" and I trust Ed implicitly.
We two-vehicled it out to the trailhead so that no one would have to sit sideways in the back of a truck cab with Sadie in their lap. At the TH we met a party that was headed for Dewdney. I wonder how that worked out? It looked to be snowfree all the way...
Once en route the trail was in good shape. I tried hard not to be too distracted by mushrooms but still mostly lagged behind the others. False morel, blonde, black, puffball...
There was pretty much no snow at all until right before the pass. All the flowers were out. The mountain beavers were snug in their burrows, and all of Sadie's sniffing and digging couldn't winkle them out.
We walked past a pile of bones. Adam said that the bones had been there for at least 5 years. Maybe it was a murder? An ancient burial ground? The Lost Mastadon Graveyard? A horribly cursed site where anyone sleeping overnight will surely perish? These are the types of things you have to consider for Reality TV.
We made it to the pass. The Punch Bowl still had a thin veil of ice and a larger berg. Imagine what it would be like to be a polar bear stranded on that. Speaking of bears, we found the tracks of a bear heading up a steep couloir on the north side of Snass. Obviously climbing leashless, whether claws should be considered as tools or crampons depends on how you look at ice climbing, I guess. Are paws hands or feet?
As we headed along below the north face of Snass we heard a rushing behind us. An avalanche? We whirled around to see, not falling snow, but a jet-black jet fighter. It came ripping through Punch Bowl Pass, banked sharply, screamed overhead and was lost to view, albeit not before I took a picture as it sped away. My picture does much to explain why it's so hard to photograph UFOs.
A little bit further on we found some sort of fossil. I won't even begin to try to explain this one. The picture will have to serve as both sign and signifier in one. Just past that was an odd cerulean pool where Adam and Kevin refilled their water bottles. Like the eye of a strange snowy monster...
Eventually, all bullshit aside, we got to the base of Snazzy. Now the work was over and the fun began. Or maybe the other way around. From the col between Snazzy and the next peaklet to the south the way ahead seemed obvious - climb up ledges and bushes to the crest of Snazzy's west ridge. Easy peasy. We did it.
Sadie had to get leashed to a bush here while the rest of us went ahead. The ridge was quite picturesque but had a couple of rotten notches. We worked our way along, up, down, up again, always traversing. Pushed onto the ridge crest by steep rock to either side, only to find a final sharp gap. The tower beyond actually overhung, but seemed to be the summit. Motivated by Ed's words "scramble.... on the south side" I worked my way down a gully, out onto ledges, around under the overhangs, circling up a ramp towards the upper northeast ridge, then easily to the summit. Like Lynn Hill said, "It goes, boys!"
From Adam: https://vimeo.com/129383066
From Matthew: https://youtu.be/EM3vFKAUhuE
The summit was covered with ladybugs. Clouds of them, crawling on the rocks, flying in circles, getting in our food, our clothes, our hair and our packs. A red carpet treatment indeed. It put me in mind of Tom Waits "Jockey Full of Bourbon".
There was a cairn on top, but it had no first ascent record when we took it apart, only more ladybugs. Maybe they ate it. Maybe first ascent records magically turn into bugs, the way Aristotle believed that mud can spontaneously generate small insects and worms. That would make an accurate guidebook that much harder to put together.
We climbed back down to the regular world and the dog one at a time. The same way that the Hopi say that the people climbed into the Fourth World. The ladybugs mostly stayed behind. Perhaps their choice was the correct one and ours was not?
From the west ridge we retraced our steps more or less exactly back to the car. It would have been nice to go up and over Snass - the NE ridge route looked to be in perfect shape - but that will have to wait for another time. Unlike the walk in, though, there were few paranormal occurrences. Just ordinary stuff. No bugs. Hot and dry. No more interesting mushrooms. Sadie did find a mother grouse and her chicks, but one beep from the collar had her heel, no feathers in mouth. Peep peep.
We were back at the car around 7. With the nice long days we had a leisurely drive back down the H-P and on to home. Matthew and I stopped in Hope for burgers and milkshakes along the way. You see, my body is a temple. A temple of Mammon. And after 11-odd hours, 19 km and 1600 m it seemed some sort of sacrifice was necessary!
It was a good day out. The scrambling was interesting, and the area, beautiful. I'm still scratching my head about some of the other stuff. Maybe a TV show will explain it one day. Until then, I'll just have to want to believe.