Little report from a fun time this weekend in the Howe Sound. Group of 8 of us went up to the Hat Hilton for Saturday night, and had a great time. Another group of 2 joined us as well which made for a fun and cozy night.
The hike up from the parking lot was not bad, and we quickly made it to the turnoff to Tunnel Bluffs. Didn't see a soul after this. We filled up some water at the spring, and then had lunch at the viewpoint at 1100 meters. Very little snow for this time of the year.
We ended up watching the sunset at the clearing, with beverages and good music. When the stars came out, we made a big fire which was awesome! Overall a great time. The next morning, Nick and I woke up at 6 AM to go hike to the summit. Armed with overnight bags, we packed up quick and headed over to the West Ridge trailhead. I have done Hat Mountain (or peak) before in the summer via Hat Pass, but I knew the west ridge would be easier to follow in the snow. The logging road ended pretty quickly, but it was a mess with taking on and off our snowshoes a few times before the snow pack became steady.
We followed some new mountain goat tracks at around 1250 meters elevation which was cool. The actual logging road portion after the turnoff was much shorter than I had assumed. Mike has done a great job with the trail, and it was decently easy to follow. At around 1300 meters, the snow was consistent, and the route flattened out for a bit. Very beautiful old growth forests filled with large, mature douglas firs and yellow cedars. Always cool to see what the area looked like before the 1960's.
We emerged from the forest canopy at 1400 meters, and started to climb some 40 degree slopes. Snow conditions were excellent, as it was only 9 AM and were following the north west ridge. We got up to 1500 meters, where the exposure and slope increased. We brought out the ice axe, and lost the snow shoes for this part. After some sinking, we finally managed to stay afloat. Near the top, we couldn't figure out where the route was supposed to go. I assume there was a better winter route to follow, because what we were on was very exposed and STEEP. At 1621 meters, I called it quits as the snow stability seemed questionable, and I wasn't ready to be another statistic this year. Any one have any incite on where the winter route goes? Maybe it just follows what we did, and you have to tough out the exposure for 20 more meters.
You can see my tracks heading up to left on Nick. Almost made it to the top!
We will be back to complete the ring of peaks from Fat Ass -> Wettin in the summer! Good to be back in the mountains, first big hike in 6 months!